Pour One Out For The First-Ever Chick-Fil-A – Because It's Officially Closing

Chick-fil-A is known for mouthwatering chicken sandwiches and long lines. It's not one to see locations shutting their doors — except on Sundays. This makes it all the more shocking that the original Chick-fil-A is slated to close after this Saturday, May 20 (via WSB-TV). Originally established in 1967, the Chick-fil-A of the Greenbriar Mall in Southwest Atlanta is significant for being the first restaurant to adopt the Chick-fil-A title. 

The origins of Chick-fil-A date back to 1946, when founder S. Truett Cathy opened a diner called "the Dwarf Grill," where he made a hit chicken sandwich. Later, he chose to open his first dedicated chicken sandwich restaurant at the Greenbriar Mall. Though the restaurant's roots are in America's malls, with the franchise expanding exclusively in food courts in the '70s and early '80s, the original location in the Greenbriar Mall was actually one of only around 200 remaining mall locations nationwide as of last year.

Aside from a plaque commemorating the restaurant's history, the Greenbriar restaurant was nondescript and didn't show any obvious signs of struggle. One baffled frequent customer told The Atlanta Journal the location was "never slow." Now listed as "permanently closed" on its official Facebook page, this Saturday will be the original location's last day, and they plan to serve the same chicken sandwich they've been serving for over 50 years. The sign posted outside the restaurant announced the closing and indicated that it will be open between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Behind closed doors

Chick-fil-A had a strong year in 2022, with sales increasing 13% and 100 locations added (via Restaurant Business). This same report indicated that mall restaurants generated an average of 2.7 million per year per location. This is less than a third of what a standalone (non-mall) Chick-fil-A makes. While there was an undeniable history attached to the Greenbriar location, it is likely a victim of a larger nationwide trend away from mall-concept dining.

The Greenbriar Mall has seen a steady wave of closures since the pandemic accelerated the move to online shopping (via Atlanta Magazine). First came the departures of large department stores like Macy's and Burlington, leaving the mall without its biggest draws. Though it was among the first indoor malls in the city, its historic Chick-fil-A became one of the mall's primary claims to fame. Now, many seem to view the closure of the Chick-fil-A as an omen for the fate of the mall. One Twitter user lamented, "The greenbriar chick fil a is closing! The mall itself is next!"

Atlanta residents who are less worried about the sentimental value than their cravings for Chick-fil-A can rest easy, other nearby locations remain open. Additionally, the city is still home to Dwarf House, where Chick-fil-A got its start all those years ago.