The opening of a Chick-fil-A restaurant this month and a Royal Farms convenience store at the end of summer 2012 have transformed part of Route 30 in York into what one business owner already has heard called “Chicken Alley.”
There are now three businesses known for chicken in close proximity on the south side of Route 30, or Loucks Road, between Fairlane Drive and Roosevelt Avenue.
The third is an existing restaurant building with a Kentucky Fried Chicken and Long John Silver's on the far eastern side of the highway section.
A hallmark of the Maryland-based convenience chain's food offerings is chicken, and each of the other two have their own various chicken offerings front and center right in the names.
"Competition is good for everybody," said Chuck Lambert, owner of the Chick-fil-A that opened April 11 on Loucks Road.
But his business isn't looking to steal anyone's customers; they all offer chicken, but each has its own niche, he said.
The property used to be a Lone Star Steakhouse before Chick-fil-A homed in on it for its first York-area standalone restaurant, Lambert said.
The availability of such great frontage along busy Route 30 was the main selling point. It just so happens that the other nearby businesses sell chicken, he said.
Some people have referred to the area to him as "Chicken Alley" and wonder why the new restaurant is there, Lambert said. But he's not worried about it.
"If we do what we know how to do right, we have no problem," Lambert said.
Harry Latshaw, KFC franchisee, said competition is good for business and keeps owners sharp.
The business has been doing its chicken in the area for quite a few years and has a good marketing plan, he said.
So Latshaw's not worried about the competition, whether it's other chicken offerings or burgers or whatever else might be out there.
Chicken isn't all that's going on in the vicinity.
Renovation work is occurring at the shopping centers between Chick-fil-A and Royal Farms, referred to as Maple Village I and Maple Village II.
Some of the features making the stretch appealing are the traffic count and the accessibility from two intersections with traffic signals, said Chad Stine, president and CEO of York-based Bennett Williams Realty Inc.
The firm is the leasing agent for the two Maple Village properties.
About 53,000 vehicles per day pass by the businesses on Route 30 alone, not including the north-south and Roosevelt Avenue, Stine said.
The businesses also are set close to the highway instead of having huge parking lots out front, creating great visibility for the retailers themselves, he said.
The smaller of the two Maple Village sites, Maple Village II, has had full occupancy in its roughly 20,000 square feet of space, Stine said. Most of the work is to renovate facades and have them stand higher for better visibility.
Work on the larger Maple Village I, which is about 30,000 square feet, includes similar facade work as well as some interior reconfiguration, Stine said. Passersby can expect new tenant signs to go up in the next 90 to 120 days.
The renovations on both sites began after the larger one was acquired last year, Stine said. They have similar ownership.
The big food names on the same side of the highway are great drivers of customer traffic, Stine said.
"They drive so much traffic, they really do, and between Chick-fil-A, KFC and Royal Farms, there is just so much activity on that stretch," he said.
Lambert started working for Chick-fil-A when he was 16 and owned the location in the West Manchester Mall in neighboring West Manchester Township.
It closed at the end of March in lieu of the new standalone site opening — but years after Chick-fil-A had planned to close it, Lambert said.
As Lambert was working his way up the Chick-fil-A system toward possible selection as a franchise owner, he was assigned several years ago as interim manager of the West Manchester Mall restaurant, he recalled.
His job was to get it ready to shut down in just a couple months, Lambert said. But instead, he saw the potential, convinced the company and spent the next several years turning the restaurant into a top performer.
It was, in part, a way of proving to Chick-fil-A that York would be a great place to open one of the limited number of new restaurants that roll out each year, Lambert said.
The April 11 opening was the culmination of that effort.
Work on the restaurant started last fall and included demolishing the former building on-site, Lambert said.
The Royal Farms opened Aug. 30 last year and chose the location because of the traffic count, demographics and because it has great exposure to the "morning side" of Route 30 as commuters drive east toward Interstate 83, Ed Stronski, the company's marketing manager, said in an email.
Royal Farms also is not concerned about the competition, which is everywhere, he said. Even so, the businesses have different options to offer.
For example, Royal Farms' comes with the chance to fuel a vehicle and get a car wash in addition to taking food home to the family, he said.