ASHLAND - Ashlanders better get ready to "Eat Mor Chikin."
A Chick-fil-A food truck is slated to make weekly stops in Ashland on Tuesdays starting next week, Mayor Matt Miller told Ashland Source.
Miller made his announcement on Facebook Tuesday, two days after Ashland Area Economic Development Executive Director Kathy Goon shared a similar post.
Along with several other local leaders, both Miller and Goon were involved in discussions that helped seal the deal for the popular fast food restaurant chain's move into Ashland. But both agree it was Ashland residents who paved the way for the truck to roll i from the chain's Strongsville location.
"Our community members who love Chick-fil-A have been going there and kind of promoting the city and the county for us," Goon said.
Brian Wellman, owner and operator of the Strongsville Chick-fil-A, told local leaders that rarely a week goes by when he doesn't receive a request from an Ashland resident asking him to open a location in Ashland.
So when Wellman recently applied for and received one of only six Chick-fil-A food trucks in the country, he knew Ashland needed to be one of the truck's regular stops. The new Strongsville food truck is the only one of its kind in the Midwest.
"They'll stop in other places around the region too, of course, but they're planning for Tuesdays to be their day in Ashland," Miller said.
Though the exact location for the food truck has not been finalized, Miller said, the truck will likely be somewhere downtown next Tuesday and will rotate to other locations in and around Ashland on Tuesdays in the future.
In addition to Goon and Miller, representatives from the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce, Ashland Convention and Visitors Bureau, Ashland Main Street and the City of Loudonville all met with Chick-fil-A executives before the decision was finalized.
Goon said she sent Chick-fil-A a letter detailing recent developments in Ashland and laying out a case for why Ashland would be a good location for the chain to explore. Local leaders also provided a list of local events, and Chick-fil-A has expressed interest in having the truck on hand for community events.
The various community entities involved in the team that helped bring the truck to Ashland will work together to help spread the word about the truck's location each time it is in town, Goon said. The best way to receive updates may be to follow those entities, or the Strongsville Chick-fil-A, on Facebook.
Goon said the company has promised the food truck will provide the restaurants "most-craveable" products, including their signature chicken sandwiches and spicy chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, salads and sides.
If the food truck has a successful run in Ashland, Goon hopes the restaurant chain will consider opening a brick-and-mortar store in the city.
But no plans for such a restaurant are currently in the works.
"At this point, they're focused on the food truck," Miller said.
According to Goon, Chick-fll-A franchise owners cannot operate more than a couple of stores.
"They want the owners to be present and available and they feel like if they own more than two, they can't be there and have the excellent customer service and good quality they need," Goon said.
Because of this rule, Goon believes Chick-fil-A would look for a new franchise owner if it did consider adding an Ashland store in the future.
Both Miller and Goon are excited about the food truck's arrival, and judging by the comments on their Facebook posts, they are not alone. Goon's post was shared 38 times, and Miller's was shared more than 650 times in just two hours.
"The story here in my opinion is that this was a community effort, and this shows all of us can play a role in economic development," Miller said. "The reason we were so high on the priority list for this owner and operator is because so many folks from Ashland had visited his restaurant and mentioned that we'd love to have one in Ashland. I think that's pretty neat."