The home of the original chicken sandwich is coming to Jacksonville after the sale of the former library site was finalized last week.
City officials hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday morning to announce Chick-fil-A will be coming to the old Jacksonville Public Library spot, located at 502 S. Jackson St.
In honor of Jacksonville’s tomato connections, the new owners and city officials unveiled a concrete tomato with a Chick-fil-A logo to make the announcement.
Chick-fil-A Owner Marybeth Wade expects that 90 employees will be hired at the new location and recruitment will start the end of December or early January. The opening date for the restaurant is expected to be late spring or early summer next year, according to the city of Jacksonville.
Mayor Randy Gorham said during his time as mayor and a city councilman the question he got the most was when the city would get a Chick-fil-A.
“When we were presented with the possibility of an investor group purchasing that corner on South Jackson Street, we all agreed that unless it is a major national Tier 1 brand, we were probably not interested. I know it’s been a long time coming and has taken longer than we all expected, but I believe that it has been worth the wait,” Gorham said.
With help from the Jacksonville Industrial Foundation and the city of Jacksonville, it took 18 months to seal the deal on the new restaurant.
City Manager Greg Smith said the decision to sell the library was not easy, but that the location could be put to better use for the community.
“The city and residents will see the rewards of this transaction for years to come,” Smith said. “The opening of Chick-fil-A in our community will bring an influx of people to our city for dining, shopping and more. We look forward to working with Chick-fil-A and Wade as they become an integral part of our Jacksonville community.”
Wade has worked for Chick-fil-A for 21 years and said she’s looking forward to serving Jacksonville.
“My life dream has been to be an owner/operator of a Chick-fil-A in a small town with deep community roots. After meeting with City Manager, Greg Smith and JEDCO President, James Hubbard, I knew that Jacksonville was the perfect location for my family,” Wade said. “This has been a lengthy process, but one that has paid off to get a Tier 1 level establishment at this location.”
Jacksonville Economic Development Corporation President James Hubbard said the Chick-fil-A is an exciting project and it will likely create more development.
The library, once housed at the Jackson Street location, is set to reopen in the spring at the Norman Activity Center, located at 526 E. Commerce St. The city council made the choice to sell the library property in September.