A few days after my curious wife read (in horror) my confessional I Hate Cooking rant on Hamster Patrol, she subsequently “banned” me from the kitchen. I am abiding by her domestic proclamation, but under duress as I am not even allowed to do anything besides boil water in this “older” pan to make my Suddenly Salad. Otherwise, I am not trusted to perform any slicing, frying, baking, mixing — or even using spices — for any reason.
Seems a little extreme if you ask me.
That’s fine, though. I’ve had to go out to eat a little more often during the past few weeks, and I was looking for more variety than the typical fast food options. Coincidentally, one of the first Chick-fil-A stores in the Milwaukee area just opened near me in Oak Creek’s new Drexel Town Square. All sorts of weird shit is being built here like some drive-in podiatry lab and a strange liquid vitamin outlet.
To be honest, I don’t know anything about the Chick-fil-A franchise, nor should I have to. The other day, I saw about fifteen people, replete with Coleman tents and portable toilets, camped out in the rain near the restaurant’s doors. I thought they might be there for early job interviews or something. But no. I heard on the radio people were actually waiting in line to be among the first to taste Chick-fil-A’s opening-day eats. Well, that better be some pretty fucking good chicken if that’s the case.
So, here I am driving to the new Chick-fil-A; the landscape is still under construction. (In the foreground, you can see what I am assuming to be a makeshift fence and new feed grass which will soon pen their free-range chickens.)
When I arrived around 6:00 P.M. on a weekday, the “after work crowd” was definitely packing the parking lot. My interest had been peaked…
I finally got my ass inside the building, and it was very white and big — the look of the store, I mean. The staff was very nice, and the customers were patient for what could have been an uncoordinated bustle for rarefied poultry. But people must really love this damn chicken! The restaurant was still under construction with live wires hanging from the ceiling, exposed plumbing, clouds of sheet rock dust floating about, and sleeve-less construction workers urinating in a rusty trough in the corner, yet people were still eating here in droves!
I did not realize Chick-fil-A only made and sold chicken products; I thought perhaps it was just their specialty. There wasn’t a single pork or beef dish in sight. They had chicken nuggets, chicken salads, and chicken fries; and they even had chicken-based deserts like the Shake-a-Leg Malt, BreastNut Sundae, and the popular Cherries n’ Chicken Cobbler Parfait. Surprising.
I experienced some consternation over deciding what kind of bird to order; I wanted to make my first time at Chick-fil-A a memorable, flavorific experience. I opted for some kind of grilled chicken and bacon sandwich with waffle fries. My total was about eight “bucks,” and I did not get a drink with that because I’m that “cheep, cheep, cheep.”
Here’s something bad that happened: As I was asking annoying questions about the menu, two women got so excited over this fucking chicken and a free drink refill, one of them forcefully grabbed a soda from the cashier and it exploded all over the place. Only a dash of Mellow Yellow hit my leg, lucky me. Dangerous, slippery ice littered the floor, but it did not deter this hungry patron from standing right in this shit to order some food.
There also was sticky soda all over the counter and card reader. Before they even started clearing the mess, the wonderful staff already provided the spasmodic woman a new drink.
Anyway, I ordered, paid, and tried to find a booth…
What is the deal with these plastic lantern things? What are the holes for? Chick-fil-A places your receipt inside this big red square cup, and they told me to put it on my table. I don’t know why I thought they were going to fill it will miniature chocolate chip cookies so you can eat a snack while you’re waiting for your order. One of the workers told me it was so they would know where to deliver food to customers. But how would they know from a distance what I had coming without a displayed number, kind of like how Culver’s does it?
The waiter-person must have “guessed” correctly, and my food had finally arrived. Everything looked and smelled normal, just like any other chicken sandwich and fried potatoes.
I became distracted reading the “Great Ideas” tray paper. I did not know Chick-fil-A was so concerned about how much cherries, Kale, and Brocolini (?) I got in my diet as well as the details of my sleeping patterns. My advice: Don’t write yourself out of the will, Chick-fil-A. If you don’t serve it, don’t mention it. They really should be trying to upsell me on some cookies on this sheet instead of giving me health tips.
The food was fresh, not very greasy, and it tasted pretty good. The chicken filet itself was scrumptious and flavorful. I wouldn’t say it’s worth camping out in the rain for, but it was much better than chicken sandwiches from McDonald’s, Burger King, or Culver’s. I also liked the little “Dip & Squeeze” ketchup containers. They’re much more convenient and less explosive than the traditional ketchup packets.
So, I ate everything and got ready to leave.
Then I noticed one last thing — the black and white art/poster above my booth. I don’t know why these young ladies are laughing so intensely, or why the one on the right is carrying a basket of ostrich eggs, but it’s all quite disturbing. The one in the middle looks like she’s reading some subliminally encoded fortune cookie message that suddenly triggered some latent insanity. It’s all very weird.
Some final thoughts…
My trip reminded me of when the first Culver’s in our area opened in the early 1990’s — coincidentally just across the street from this Chick-fil-A. People were temporarily obsessed with Culver’s solely because it was new and not because it was necessarily better than other restaurants. For many years in Wisconsin, we already had some of the best frozen custard and burger shops in America like the famous Leon’s, Gilles, and Kopp’s, but everyone suddenly wanted to join a long line for Culver’s custard and a “butter burger.” Aren’t people weird?
Although, I don’t think the same thing is happening here with Chick-fil-A. We don’t have many chicken-only restaurants that I know of except KFC, and that’s more of a chicken-in-a-bucket takeout place. So, yes, I think Chick-fil-A is a good food alternative and deserves its prime spot in the fashionable Drexel Town Square. Now, if they could also attract that new Pig-o-Rama franchise, it would draw pork-loving people and their money from three counties.
In the near future, I would like to return to Chick-fil-A for a more formal nugget-to-nugget comparison. Thank you for reading!