The state’s lone chick



A large silver bus pulled down Wilson Blvd. and stopped at the end of the street to let out a lone representative with a single question. The man was David Brown, a member of the music faculty for Maranatha Baptist Bible College from Watertown, Wisc. Brown, who was traveling with nearly three dozen student choir singers and faculty members on a performing tour of Michigan, had received a text message from one of his students earlier, listing the address of the Oakland Center.

“Where’s the Chick-Fil-A?” Brown had asked.


Why Oakland?

Michigan has only one Chick-Fil-A restaurant, an “express” location in the Pioneer Food Court at Oakland University. Gerald Gatto, the resident district manager of Chartwells, said OU has a Chick-Fil-A not because of popularity, but because it was part of the original bid Chartwells made for university eateries.

“This was decided by the Oakland University evaluation team who worked through the contract bid process,” Gatto said. “The driving reason to bring the Chick-Fil-A brand to Oakland’s campus was to give the students a broader variety of menu choices in the food court.”


Starting to branch out

OU’s Chick-Fil-A opened in Sept. 2002. In the 10 years since its opening, there has been little menu expansion — the spicy chicken sandwich was introduced in 2010 — and additonal locations have not opened in Michigan.

Gatto said the lack of menu development is due to space constraints. There are no plans for future menu or square footage expansion at this time However, Michigan may see a new venue open within a few years.

“The Chick-Fil-A brand is starting to move into the Chicago market and my guess is we may start to see more Chick-Fil-A restaurants moving into Michigan within the next couple of years,” Gatto said.


A tasty appeal

The text message that brought the choir singers to OU was sent by Josh Knoedler, a sophomore at Maranatha. His reasons for choosing Chick-Fil-A are simple.

“The chicken is real,” Knoedler said.

The choir, which was traveling to Goodrich, Mich. on the first leg of their Michigan tour, drove 20 minutes out of the way just for Chick-Fil-A.

Despite the fact that they planned on having a meal provided to themin Goodrish, they still stopped at campus for the Chick-Fil-A.

Outside of OU, many people seek out the secluded Chick-Fil-A on the merit of its products.

“I know it’s good because when I lived in Texas, I worked there for two years … the fact that I can still eat there means it must be good,” said Shawn Dry, a history professor at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus, said.


Thumb on the pulse

According to Gatto, Chick-Fil-A advertisements around campus are the only ads for the restaurant in the state.

“We do internal advertisement to the campus community, but community advertisement is limited due to the small Chick-Fil-A market share in Michigan,” Gatto said.

Like many licensed, non-traditional outlet restaurants, OU’s Chick-Fil-A is evaluated periodically by its parent company.

“We receive monthly visits from a representative who goes over service and food quality standards set by the Chick-Fil-A brand,” Gatto said.


The best around

Gatto — who prefers the grilled chicken sandwich — said the best-selling items at OU’s Chick-Fil-A are the waffle fries, followed by the classic chicken sandwich.


Contact Staff Intern Mark McMillan via email at [email protected]