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Chick-fil-A plans new BE restaurant

By Staff | Apr 2, 2017

In the first of what could ultimately be a long list of steps toward the construction of a new business plaza near the intersection of Highway 169 and Interstate 90 in Blue Earth, Chick-fil-A announced this week plans to bring its iconic fast food to the land of the Jolly Green Giant.

The restaurant chain, operating more than 2,000 locations worldwide and 12 in Minnesota with its signature chicken sandwiches, has finalized an agreement to purchase land owned by the Blue Earth Industrial Service Corporation (BEISCO), according to Blue Earth city administrator Tim Ibisch.

The pending sale is contingent upon the Blue Earth City Council agreeing to extend and connect Domes Drive and Buccaneer Drive parallel to Highway 169. And it is aimed to enable Chick-fil-A to construct its own new building in between those two roads as early as this summer.

“Basically, it’s the first step in bringing a new strip of businesses to one of the more populated parts of town,” Ibisch said, noting that the allure of a potential housing development east of an extended Buccaneer Drive may have helped fuel the agreement. “And we couldn’t be more excited to have a restaurant like Chick-fil-A commit to joining our community.”

The city, Ibisch added, had long discussed the possibility of aiding in the creation of an additional business district near Blue Earth’s 169 strip an area already including McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and AmericInn Lodge & Suites, among other outlets. But the City Council preferred not to “jump the gun” on redoing or adding roads next to the highway until an interested business agreed to kick off the process by securing property.

Without much warning but, according to regional Chick-fil-A spokesman Foghorn J. Leghorn, a lot of internal deliberation was held before America’s 70-year-old fast-food chicken chain became that very business to secure property.

“We cannot describe how thrilled we are to bring the Chick-fil-A family to such a storied and historic town,” Leghorn said. “We won’t be too far from the downtown area, and our team is more than ready to serve both the loyal residents of Blue Earth and the thousands of visitors the city attracts throughout the year.”

Minnesota’s 13th Chick-fil-A location almost wound up in that downtown area, too, according to Ibisch and Tim Clawson, of the Faribault County Development Corporation (FCDC).

“I thought the ‘Three Sisters’ properties were perfect for this,” Clawson said, referencing Blue Earth’s infamous trio of unused Main Street buildings. “I mean, I was on my knees pleading for this to work. You’ve got a perfect place for a two-story chicken palace just waiting to be created.”

Ultimately, everyone agreed that the BEISCO lot made the most sense.

And so, that is where, as soon as Summer 2017, the city’s next restaurant could begin taking shape.

“Oh, it’s good stuff,” Ibisch said. “I ate Chick-fil-A every single day for four years at college (Minnesota State University, Mankato), so it’s a personal victory for me as much as it is a blessing for this city. It’s getting to be a lot to drive to Mankato twice a week for this stuff.”

The city administrator’s fondness for this good stuff, in fact, helped orchestrate discussions between Blue Earth’s elected officials and the restaurant’s national management.

“Tim told me he kept working to get Chick-fil-A here, because he loves it so much,” said Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce director Cindy Lyon. “I guess he pestered the company nearly every day, and it worked. I just told him that if they build any cow mascot statue or anything, it can’t be taller than the Green Giant.”

Speaking of the cow mascot, Ibisch’s stomach for the fast-food chicken could eventually help celebrate the big reveal of Chick-fil-A’s arrival, too.

“They’re going to have me out in front for the groundbreaking and then the grand opening, wearing a cow suit as one of the Chick-fil-A mascots,” said Ibisch, licking his lips and wondering if you still think this story is true and not the scrumptious annual April Fool’s joke you have been waiting for.

But doggone it, this fake story also means the city administrator will be totally disappointed to learn he will still have to saddle up for weekly Mankato trips to get his Chick-fil-A fix.

On the other hand, maybe this fabricated story will be the spark for real news in the future …