Proposed Fairfield Chick-Fil-A raises more traffic concerns

The former Joe's American Bar & Grill property on the Post Rd. in Fairfield, Conn. Aug. 12,2021. A new Chick-fil-A restaurant is proposed for the property.

The former Joe’s American Bar & Grill property on the Post Rd. in Fairfield, Conn. Aug. 12,2021. A new Chick-fil-A restaurant is proposed for the property.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — Traffic concerns continue to loom around the proposed Chick-fil-A set to be built at 750 Post Road.

Attorney Joel Green, who represents several businesses near the proposed location, took aim at the application Tuesday night, calling it “sparse” and saying it lacked data.

“In my view, the traffic reporting on this has been embarrassing,” Green said at the Town Plan and Zoning meeting.

Green said Chick-fil-A operated nearly 2,700 restaurants, making it a sophisticated operator and a sophisticated franchise with s vast amount of data and experience.

“I can tell you that Chick-fil-A can tell you with reasonable certainty what the town of Fairfield can expect at 750 Post Road in terms of the volume of business, in terms of the number of customers and in terms of the distribution of customers,” Green said. “The point is Chick-fil-A has this information and they are not being forthright with it.”

Chick-fil-A’s proposed location is the former site for Joe’s American Bar & Grill, which closed down nearly two years ago. The property was sold in 2020 for $3.9 million, according to a news release from Angel Commercial LLC who represented both the buyer and seller in the transaction. It also includes the adjacent Colonial Unisex Hair Cutters barbershop, a family-owned business that has been on Post Road since 1970.

Back in August, Attorney John Knuff, who represents the applicant, said he believes the 1.9 acre lot is big enough to maintain the customer demand that will occur in Fairfield. He said the size of the site itself, is far larger than any other Chick-fil-A in the state.

“It was important to my client and for Chick-fil-A to have a site with sufficient size that easily absorbed customer traffic with no backups on the adjacent roadway network,” Knuff said at the time.

The possible Fairfield site has frequently been compared to the current Norwalk location.

Learning from the mistakes of Norwalk, Chick-Fil-A has planned to increase the drive-thru line to adjust to the demand. The Fairfield drive thru can accommodate 36 cars, with the opportunity to add an extra eight vehicles.

Fairfield will also have a surplus of 23 parking spaces which offers flexibility in terms of parking and facilitating easy access throughout the site. Knuff said in August that the traffic analysis also shows that with “significant improvements” the chain won’t have more of an impact on the area roads compared to just renting out the Joe’s American building to a new tenant.

This week, Green took issue with the statement and the traffic report.

“This is a very attractive site for Chick-Fil-A,” Green said. “These sites are not chosen casually and there is a high level of analysis.”

Green said with nearly 2,700 restaurants, he would think Chick-fil-A could share their experience in terms of opening these types of restaurants and opening these sorts of facilities.”

“The data is sparse based on the rich amount of data that Chick-fil-A holds,” he added.

Green also said the traffic could be much more than projected because it didn’t factor in other towns coming to Fairfield’s proposed Chick-fil-A. Green said he often sees advertisements on I-95 all the way in West Haven for the Chick-fil-A in Norwalk

“I had never been to a Chick-fil-A before and I was curious about the data,” Green said. “I had the opportunity to visit the Norwalk Chick-fil-A that had been discussed. I visited at 1 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon and I can tell you that the traffic on the site is chaotic.”

“I understand experts provide opinions, but opinions are based on data and the data is sparse,” he added.

The public hearing is now closed. The applicant will have a chance to present a rebuttal before the commission votes in the coming weeks.