SOURCE: Chick-fil-A

October 18, 2007 05:00 ET

Chick-fil-A Celebrates Grand Re-Opening of Oakwood Center Restaurant Oct. 19

Owner/Operator Nick Perniciaro Returning Chick-fil-A Menu and Team Members to Re-Built Gretna Mall

NEW ORLEANS, LA--(Marketwire - October 18, 2007) - Chick-fil-A, marking its 40th anniversary this year, will have another reason to celebrate on Oct. 19, when the chain re-opens its long-time restaurant at the re-built Oakwood Center mall in Gretna.

"We can't wait to welcome our customers back to Chick-fil-A," said Nick Perniciaro, the owner/operator of the restaurant at Oakwood Center at 197 Westbank Expressway. "It's hard to put into words just how important and exciting the re-opening of this mall is to the people of New Orleans. It's the heartbeat of the recovery, another symbol that New Orleans is coming back stronger than ever."

Oakwood Center became a painful symbol of the destruction that followed Hurricane Katrina in September 2005 when it was partially burned to the ground in the chaos that followed the hurricane and subsequent levy failures. More than two years later, Chick-fil-A will celebrate with the rest of the mall tenants, reopening at 10 a.m. on Oct. 19 with festivities planned throughout the opening weekend.

Perniciaro said customers will find the same high-quality food and customer service along with Chick-fil-A's newest interior and counter design when they visit the restaurant. They'll also find some familiar faces; several of the Chick-fil-A team members working there when Hurricane Katrina struck are returning to the restaurant after working at other area Chick-fil-A locations in the interim.

For Perniciaro and his family, the grand opening will be a personal and professional victory. Owning the Oakwood Center Chick-fil-A for just three months when the hurricane struck, Perniciaro and his family fled to Houston hours before 13 feet of water inundated their St. Bernard Parish home. In a Houston hotel, he watched on television as Oakwood Center burned and local emergency crews battled the flames.

"My heart just sunk. I was devastated," said Perniciaro, who lost everything in his home. "My house was destroyed, my business was gone. I didn't know what I was going to do."

Committed to Chick-fil-A, which had moved quickly to assist him and his family, Perniciaro and his family moved in with relatives and relocated to operate the Chick-fil-A restaurant at The Esplanade in Metairie while Oakwood Center was being rebuilt. Many other employees from Oakwood Center, along with customers, made their way to The Esplanade.

"There isn't a day that goes by that someone from Oakwood Center doesn't stop by our restaurant at The Esplanade to say, 'Please tell me you're going back to the mall,'" he said. "We love the people of the area. We love New Orleans and we are coming back."

Chick-fil-A opened in the mall more than 20 years ago and will be in the same location as it was before the fire. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Consumers, who recently participated in Zagat's first fast food survey, scored Chick-fil-A the highest in the chicken restaurant category and also in the service category. QSR magazine released its 2006 scores for the Best Drive-Thru in America Survey with the Chick-fil-A chain's overall composite scores placing it in the lead -- making it four out of the past five years that the chain has earned top rankings.

Consumers indicated that accuracy and speed were some of the most important performance areas. Chick-fil-A was number one in the accuracy category with a 98 percent score; and despite Chick-fil-A adding four flavors of handspun milkshakes to its menu in May 2006, the chain continued to show strong individual speeds in the drive-thru with an average time of 44 seconds.

Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy marked several milestones in 2006, including the 60th anniversary of the opening of his first restaurant, the Dwarf Grill in Hapeville, Ga. Also, the third generation entered the Chick-fil-A business with two Cathy grandsons becoming restaurant Operators.

About Chick-fil-A, Inc.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, Inc., is the nation's second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain (based on sales), with more than 1,340 locations. In 2006, Chick-fil-A produced record sales of $2.275 billion -- a 15.16 percent overall increase and an 8.52 percent same-store sales gain that helped extend the chain's streak of consecutive sales gains to 39 years.

Credited with inventing the boneless breast of chicken sandwich and first introducing the chicken nugget concept, Chick-fil-A serves nutritious and freshly prepared food products in mall locations, stand-alone restaurants, drive-thru-only restaurants, Chick-fil-A Dwarf House® and Truett's Grill® full-service restaurants, and through licensed outlets in college campuses, hospitals, airports, businesses and industrial sites. More information about Chick-fil-A is available on the chain's websites, located at www.chick-fil-a.com, www.chick-fil-apressroom.com or www.truettcathy.com.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Brenda Green
    Chick-fil-A, Inc.
    Email Contact
    404-765-8064
    404-272-9381 (cell)

    Lindsay Ables
    CP Communications Inc.
    Email Contact
    843-452-1865 (cell)