On Wednesday, January 17, a group of nearly 30 CEOs and civic leaders came together on Atlanta's Westside to discuss how they can help restore and uplift the historic community. The setting? Chick-fil-A's new restaurant on the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard in Vine City.
As Chick-fil-A's first Westside location, the structure signals both a continued revitalization of the corridor as well as an outward expression of Chick-fil-A's ongoing commitment to the children and families in the surrounding neighborhoods. Chick-fil-A at Vine City has already provided 90 jobs, with 70 percent of those going to Westside residents. The restaurant also includes a conference room intended to host community meetings.
"It is our hope the restaurant will help foster community within the neighborhood and offer an environment where families will share meals, business people can meet, and neighbors experence genuine, heartfelt hospitality," says Chick-fil-A Chairman and CEO Dan Cathy.
The restaurant is operated by Quincy Springs, a military veteran raised in Buchanan, Va., who now calls Atlanta home. Quincy saw a need for leadership in the community while serving as general manager of the Wal-Mart, and sees his Chick-fil-A (located next-door to his former Wal-Mart) as a place to create community and help educate youth about the civil rights heroes who once were neighborhood fixtures.
"When it comes to the historic Westside, the whole is greater than the sum total of its parts," he says. "The amount of love, pride of place, and genuine caring for others has made it feel like home to me."
Despite snow and record cold temperatures, Dan and leaders from companies like Coca-Cola, SunTrust Bank and Cox Communications – even the new Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms – joined nearly 100 local residents for an evening of games and fellowship, followed by a campout in the restaurant's parking lot (a time-honored Chick-fil-A tradition).
As part of the evening's festivities, Dan urged his fellow CEOs to join Chick-fil-A, Chick-fil-A Foundation, Arthur M. Blank Foundation and Westside Future Fund in their collective efforts to revitalize the community while keeping local residents at the heart of everything they do.
"This was a special evening of fellowship, hope and inspiration," says Rodney Bullard, Vice President of Community Affairs for Chick-fil-A, Inc., and Executive Director of Chick-fil-A Foundation. "Together with the residents of the Westside, our Atlanta business and civic leaders have the power to uplift these neighborhoods so they can have the same access, services and opportunities as residents in other parts of Atlanta. I'm encouraged by the conversations, and excited to see how they translate to further commitment and investment in this historic community."