Brandon Hurst runs one of the busiest Chick-fil-As in the country. As we stand outside together during the lunch rush at his four-year-old establishment, he trails off mid-sentence. Hurtling toward him on the sidewalk is a fat-tired moped. “Nuh-uh! We are not doing this,” he yells to the food-delivery worker, who is now gaining on two pedestrians. The worker looks back at Hurst briefly, then speeds off.
Hurst—a 35-year-old transplant from Atlanta who previously managed restaurant openings nationwide—runs the only Chick-fil-A in Brooklyn, New York. It’s across the street from the Barclays Center on a bustling stretch of Flatbush Avenue.
This restaurant doesn’t have a drive-through, patio, or even much of a dining room—just eight two-tops and a counter with stools. Nevertheless, it ranks among America’s highest-grossing Chick-fil-As. Seventy percent of the sales come through mobile orders and digital sales channels like Uber Eats. Hurst has taken me out through a side exit so I can bear witness to the delivery-worker boomtown proliferating outside: at least three dozen bikes and escooters. (A DoorDash worker recently posted TikTok videos showing what he estimated were 100 workers queued near the food-pickup zone.) Over the past few years, Hurst tells me, this space “has been everything from an impromptu barbershop to a hookah lounge, a mechanic’s shop, and a lawn party with folding chairs and a boom box.”
Hurst, a member of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, spent months lobbying officials to create a bike lane to relieve the congestion. For now, the city has established a buffer zone, and he is simply plying delivery workers—who number 65,000 in New York City, are not well paid or well resourced, and are often unprepared for the elements—with free sandwiches so that they’ll consider dismounting before reaching the sidewalk.
Congestion like this is now routine outside restaurants across the city. Chick-fil-A is at least trying to do something about it. Last winter, the company temporarily converted a storefront on the Upper East Side into something called the Brake Room—a delivery-worker hangout space with leather couches, bathrooms, and free coffee and bottled water—that could be used by any delivery worker who needed it. It was the first program of its kind in the city.
For more on how Chick-fil-A is evolving to meet the times, read the full story, “Is it okay to like Chick-fil-A,” from the Winter issue of Fast Company.