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Leading with Excellence:

How Our Relationship with Chick-fil-A has Evolved from Day One

Chick-fil-A sought to partner with an architecture firm that could provide a centralized prototype design, helping them save on costs and promote consistency across their restaurants nationwide. HFA was selected due to our change management process and experience handling large-scale projects with other major restaurants and retailers.

As our relationship grew and the scope of work increased, we became more heavily involved in the long-term planning and execution of Chick-fil-A restaurant projects. Unlike traditional client-architect relationships, HFA partners with Chick-fil-A as an extension of their internal team. We are regularly involved in corporate meetings to provide expert knowledge of both the Chick-fil-A restaurants and industry thought leadership.

Establishing a Lasting Partnership

We’re proud to be playing a pivotal role in Chick-fil-A's recent venture into industrialized construction. Chick-fil-A began initial discussions for volumetric modular construction, and after a few attempts to get the process ironed out, Chick-fil-A approached HFA with their idea and tasked us with finalizing and implementing a solution.  

"Our first thought as a team was, 'What is possible?' Pretty quickly, after being asked to help with this first modular project, we knew we needed to get on a plane and familiarize ourselves with the manufacturing facility. This way, we could meet the key players before embarking on the process together," said Steven Baker, AIA, NCARB, Team Lead.

During this tour and subsequent meetings with the manufacturing team, many questions came up. Questions about structural design, working collaboratively across the country, and industries and producing a design that could be built in a warehouse, shipped via interstate in pieces, and put together on-site. We knew it was possible, but to be successful, we needed to establish design and review processes while using our knowledge of the prototypes to inform our decisions. This ensured the overall design was not compromised and made sure this project fit in seamlessly with existing Chick-fil-A locations.

We took a prototypical plan that we had been closely working with for about two years at that point and looked at how we could modify it for volumetric modular construction. This first project was a scrape and rebuild, meaning it was a previously operating store with a set reopening date. This particular Chick-fil-A restaurant needed to be completed within 14 weeks of shutdown.

With a tight project timeline, the scope was updated from being a fully modular restaurant to solely a modular kitchen, allowing us to scale back our focus and ensure success. We met many of our goals with this first project and are continuing to pilot volumetric modular construction.

From One-Off to Prototype Development

As the Chick-fil-A team at HFA began taking on more volumetric modular projects, we knew we needed to lean into our manufacturing partner's expertise to make sure the process ran as smoothly as possible from start to finish. We quickly learned how to do modular submittals, how different the approval process was for modular projects, and how to disseminate responsibilities across the board to complete the projects. These additional pilot projects are slightly different than the first project as we are only manufacturing small building additions. The volumetric modular approach for building additions allows us to better guarantee project timelines and reopen restaurants on time.

Because of our previous experience developing Chick-fil-A prototypes, we decided the time had come for prototype development for these new modular building addition projects. Until then, we were working on a case-by-case basis but knew this would not translate well in the long run. We needed to turn this into a more efficient process that could be replicated many times over.

What's Next

Building on these successes with the Chick-fil-A team is essential as we work to continue providing innovative solutions to the opportunities they face in the marketplace today and in the future.

The partnership we have built with Chick-fil-A has been pivotal to the success of these industrialized construction projects. Their trust in our industry knowledge and management experience has allowed us to successfully adapt Chick-fil-A’s prototypes for industrialized construction and propel their restaurants into the future.

To learn more about this project or Industrialized Construction, contact Steven Baker, AIA, NCARB. You can contact him at steven.baker@hfa-ae.com


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