CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Tuesday night, Charlotte City Council approved a major change to a Cotswold area Chick-fil-A, which nearby businesses say is causing traffic issues.
Council approved a recommendation from the city’s zoning committee, which unanimously approved a proposal from Chick-fil-A to make its location at Randolph Road a two-lane drive-thru only location.
The plans also call for a small walk-up and outdoor seating area.
The change would “increase[s] drive-thru capacity and functionality to improve issues with traffic blocking the sidewalk and backing up onto Randolph Road,” according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission.
The commission approved the petition recommendation 7-0 earlier this month. However, the planning commission’s recommendation said it was “inconsistent” with the city’s 2040 Policy Map.
Chick-fil-A can now move forward with the remodel.
The traffic mentioned in the petition is the same traffic nearby business owners say has been causing headaches and frustration with their customers for years.
Three businesses at a strip mall next to Chick-fil-A’s Randolph Road location say the line of cars trying to turn into Chick-fil-A at peak meal times can cause back-ups stretching through a nearby intersection.
“Customers actually have a problem coming down Randolph Road to the shop and have to swing out and go another block to get in here. Because, the right line of Randolph Road is blocked,” said Jerry Rhodes, a salon and barber shop owner.
Rhodes has been in the strip mall for 25 years at his Amity Barber Stylist shop and has seen Cotswold build around him. He says employees and customers often remark on the fast food traffic.
“If they would let people just come in this way and go out on Randolph it would help this situation. I don’t know how it would affect the Chick-fil-A itself,” Rhodes said Tuesday afternoon, referencing smaller roads behind and adjacent to the strip mall.
Two other businesses in the area say the traffic is at its worst in the early morning between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and then in the later afternoon, between 2 p.m. and dinner time.
An employee at one of the businesses joked all Chick-fil-A locations should be stand alone and have large lots to accommodate the chain’s popularity and high-demand with customers.
But, it is unclear if the double drive-through lane plan will ease traffic. None of the businesses Spectrum News 1 talked with on Tuesday, including Rhodes, said they were certain it would fix the issue entirely.
One customer at Rhodes’ salon said she planned her appointments to avoid traffic from the Chick-fil-A.
“I try to be mindful to come from a different direction,” said Carol Palmgren while getting her haircut. “Sharon Amity instead of coming up Randolph.”
Spectrum News 1 reached out to Chick-fil-A for comment on its plan for the Randolph Road location, as well as other locations in Charlotte and North Carolina that it has already transformed into double drive-thrus.