By Anna Harvey
MOREHEAD CITY — The staff and owners of the Chick-fil-A restaurant here are working hard to earn the Symbol of Success Award from the company’s headquarters that would result in them earning a catering truck.
Patrick and Laura Conneely opened the restaurant here six and a half years ago and now are in the running to be in the top 1 percent of sales growth over last year’s sales figures of the company’s 1,700 franchisee restaurants nationwide. They are calling their goal “Mission: Possible.”
“The bigger picture is, we’ve got this award that was created by the founder, called the Symbol of Success, for our little Carteret County Chick-fil-A to (have the opportunity to) be in the top 1 percent,” said Mr. Conneely.
The restaurant has through Thursday, Dec. 31, to continue to boost its sales to win the award.
In October, several events will be held to attract more clients to the restaurant while supporting the community.
“We’re just trying to do some things that are compelling,” said Mr. Conneelly. “If people are Chick-fil-A fans, and they want to join us in this mission, we want to give them a good reason to (do so).”
On Tuesday, Oct. 20, all of the lemonade and ice cream will be turned pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and a dollar from every meal sold will go to the Carteret Health Care Cancer Center.
On Tuesday, Oct. 27, cancer survivors can come into the restaurant and receive a free sandwich.
For every Tuesday this month, if someone comes into the restaurant wearing pink, they will get a free dessert.
The Chick-fil-A mission statement is, “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”
This statement translates through to the restaurant’s attention to detail and willingness to help those in need. Mr. Conneely said there are numerous nonprofits in the county that have held fundraisers through his franchise store. “Part of the brand is just being generous,” he said.
“Our hope is for the restaurant is to be a well in the city … where people congregate to,” said Mr. Conneely as he looked around his packed restaurant Thursday afternoon. “A thousand years ago, everyone congregated at the well.”
He said the restaurant is already a popular place for friends, families and groups to meet throughout the day. He said there are large groups of teenagers who come in the morning to eat breakfast together before school or to meet for Bible studies. He said the restaurant is also popular with sports teams and appeals to people of all ages.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Mr. Conneely said about the restaurant’s success. “We’ve had close to 200 high schoolers work here (since we opened.) We’ve had 20 kids receive $1,000 scholarships in 6.5 years. It’s amazing.”
Currently, the store employs 65 people, ranging from high school and college age, to those who wanted a second career.
“I own this restaurant, but I know my team members; they are like family,” said Mr. Conneely. Nearby, his wife sat with two employees and discussed the restaurant’s social media pages. “We have 65 team members here, and I know them all very well … this is our little family.”
The restaurant averages about 1,200 transactions a day and serves an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 customers daily.
All of the food is prepared on site, which keeps the employees busy. For example, the salads are made by hand, six at a time, and the restaurant usually sells around 150 salads a day.
Mr. Conneely said the restaurant appeals to customers because he thinks the company has done a good job of noticing the “real food” movement. The restaurant’s signature chicken sandwiches are made with chicken that is antibiotic free, he said.
Although the Conneely family and its staff is currently focused on earning the Symbol of Success Award, there is the possibility other Chick-fil-A restaurants could come to the county in the future.
Mr. Conneely said he would consider another restaurant in Beaufort or Cape Carteret but said the company is very deliberate in only introducing less than 100 stores per year, so it may be a while before the company expands in Carteret County.
Information about the store and coming fundraisers are at its Facebook page,www.facebook.com/Chick.Fil.A.moreheadcity.