- Chick-fil-A is facing complaints from businesses and customers over its massive drive-thru lines.
- Four lawsuits linked to drive-thru lines have been filed since the pandemic began.
- Chick-fil-A is trying to address complaints with new jobs and updated designs.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Chick-fil-A’s massive drive-thru lines are the stuff of fast-food legend. Recently, when a South Carolina drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic became snarled with traffic, the local mayor called Chick-fil-A for advice.
But for Mario Kiezi, the chicken chain’s success story has become a nightmare. In 2017, Kiezi bought a vacant shopping center in Toledo, Ohio. As he renovated the property and prepared for businesses to move in, a new Chick-fil-A opened its doors just yards away.
Then, when the pandemic forced the Chick-fil-A’s dining room to close, drive-thru traffic skyrocketed. To alleviate the congestion, a Chick-fil-A property-management representative emailed Kiezi to ask whether the location could temporarily extend its drive-thru line into the shopping center’s parking lot.
Kiezi said he did not respond. Chick-fil-A proceeded with its plans, adding signs that sent lines of cars winding through the lot and blocking parking spaces.
“Customers have a hard time getting in,” Kiezi told Insider. “Customers have a hard time leaving. In some instances, customers are trapped in their parking spots. We have had instances where people that are parked in handicap spaces are not able to back out of their space.”
As businesses started opening in the shopping center, customers struggled to find parking and exit the lot. Kiezi said he tried to get Chick-fil-A to fix the problem. Both Chick-fil-A and the location’s landlord, Mone Real Estate, refused, Kiezi said.
Finally, in November, Kiezi’s company filed a lawsuit against Chick-fil-A and Mone, seeking to halt what it described as a parasitic drive-thru.
Soon after, he spotted Jonathan Winn, the Chick-fil-A owner, in the parking lot. The pair had been friendly in the past, Kiezi said, and he wanted to apologize and tell Winn the suit was his last resort to protect his business.
“Essentially his response to me was, you have a zero percent chance of winning the lawsuit,” Kiezi said. “He essentially said that a lawsuit is very costly and you’re going to get drowned in legal fees.”
Kiezi is not alone. Insider spoke with 10 business owners, government employees, and Chick-fil-A workers who, along with local news reports, indicate that this…