I tried KFC’s new sauces and compared them with Chick-fil-A’s to see which comes out on top

KFC New sauces
KFC’s new lineup of sauces features a brand new “KFC sauce,” as well as revamped versions of its barbecue, ranch, and honey mustard sauces.

  • Kentucky Fried Chicken launched its new “KFC Sauce” along with revamped versions of its core condiment lineup in the fall.
  • The “KFC Sauce” features a sweet and smokey flavor, a strikingly similar mix of flavors to Chick-fil-A’s signature sauce.
  • I tried KFC’s new line of sauces and compared it with Chick-fil-A’s to see whose lineup was the best.
  • While KFC’s are still dunk-worthy, Chick-fil-A is still the reigning champion of sauces.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Chicken tenders are great, but the real superstars to any fast food cuisine are the dipping sauces.

In recognition of the importance of sauces, Kentucky Fried Chicken launched a new suite of condiments, including a never-before-seen, “KFC Sauce.”

The restaurant chain describes its new sauce as “tangy and sweet, with a bit of smokiness.”

For chicken-aficionados out there, you’ll notice KFC Sauce’s flavor profile is similar to Chick-fil-A Sauce, which the company describes as, “honey mustard and a smoky tang.”

KFC’s effort to create a competing sauce against Chick-fil-A is no small feat, but it is vital as the Georgia-based company continues to expand.

Chick-fil-A was the third-largest restaurant chain in the US in 2019, garnering a whopping $11.3 billion and earning more than Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Burger King.

And Chick-fil-A isn’t slowing down anytime soon as the company plans to continue expanding outside of the south.

That could spell trouble for KFC, who is already competing with the growing chain for dining dollars.

So who is saucy enough to reign supreme? I dipped in and compared KFC’s new line of sauces against Chick-fil-A’s lineup to see who is the best.

KFC sent me its line of new sauces in anticipation of its launch at all US restaurants on October 12.

KFC Sauce

I ordered a four-pack of the chain’s extra crispy tenders to dunk into the dipping sauces.

Chicken Tenders

I also ordered four-piece chicken strips from Chick-fil-A.

Chick fil A

To kick things off, I tried KFC’s new “Honey BBQ” sauce.

KFC

The sauce was sweet and lived up to the “honey” in its name. It tasted fine, but the flavor was pretty tame.

KFC

Next, I tried Chick-fil-A’s barbecue sauce.

Chick-fil-A

This was closer to a traditional barbecue sauce found at a grill out.

CHICK FIL A

The flavor was less sweet and relied more on savory-smokey tones. But it was still pretty muted and didn’t have any spice or pepperiness to it.

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Between KFC and Chick-fil-A, the barbecue sauces were tied. Picking one just depends on whether you’re in the mood for sweet or savory.

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For my second round of sauces, I went for KFC’s honey mustard.

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KFC’s honey mustard had a tiny hint of sharpness.

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But mostly, it was a watery-consistency and didn’t taste out of the ordinary.

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Chick-fil-A’s honey mustard was sweeter in comparison to KFC’s version of the sauce.

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It had a brownish-yellow tone and a vinegary-consistency.

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Still, it was nothing out of the ordinary. They were both just okay.

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Up next was KFC’s “classic” ranch.

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The sauce hit all the checkpoints I look for in a homemade ranch.

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The consistency was buttery and thick.

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There was a slight lactic-milk taste, but the herb mix was strong enough to contrast it with an oniony-kick.

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Overall, it met my Midwestern obsession for high-quality ranch.

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I cracked open Chick-fil-A’s “Garden Herb Ranch,” and while it was good, it didn’t live up to the KFC version.

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It still had a nice, herby-zing to it, but the sauce was thinner.

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If I brought KFC’s ranch to a Super Bowl party, people would be thanking me.

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Finally, I popped open KFC’s new house sauce.

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The KFC sauce tasted similar to a honey mustard with subtle hints of a smokey barbecue sauce.

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KFC Sauce isn’t thick, but it’s still packed with contrasting flavors that made each dip delightful.

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I enjoyed it more than the other KFC sauces and expect it to become a popular addition for tender dippers everywhere.

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Next up, I compared it to the iconic Chick-fil-A sauce.

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Both Chick-fil-A Sauce and KFC Sauce have a similar taste profile: Sweet, yet smokey. Tangy, but sharp. They were also similar in color.

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Chick-fil-A sauce was a tad bit sweeter, but the flavor was bolder than KFC’s offering.

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It also tasted like a sweet barbecue sauce mixed with sharp mustard.

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Its satisfyingly thick consistency and sweet, honey taste made Chick-fil-A Sauce absolutely addictive and superior to KFC Sauce.

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Overall, the honey mustard and barbecue sauces from both chains were on par with each other.

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KFC’s creamy ranch was definitely superior to Chick-fil-A’s offering.

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But if you put Chick-fil-A Sauce and KFC Sauce head-to-head, there is no doubt the beloved yellow sauce packet is still at the top of the pecking order.

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The sauce’s unique honey mustard and barbecue blend made me want to dunk my pizza into it, or maybe even drizzle it on a salad.

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But while KFC’s attempt to match its growing rival fell short, all of the new sauces, including KFC Sauce, are still dunk-worthy.

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How wearable pods designed to keep spectators dry at sporting events came to be used by drive-thru workers at Chick-fil-A and Dunkin’

cfa distance
  • Under the Weather produces weatherproof pods.
  • Most customers were sports fans and festival goers, but it pivoted to fit around COVID changes.
  • Drive-thru and curbside workers at Dunkin, Chick-fil-A, and Olive Garden have used them.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

You might have seen them on your most recent trip through the Chick-fil-A drive-thru, on a plane, or at a kid’s sporting event. Under the Weather Pods are weather-resistant, screened-in structure that can be worn or sat in.

Rick Pescovitz designed the first pod in 2010 after he got the idea from an experience he had sheltering in a Porta Potty from bad weather during his daughter’s soccer game. The Porta Potty inspired the shape of the original pod, which was made based on a laundry basket with a steel wire structure, Pescovitz told Insider.

nevada soccer

The pods, which now come in more than 30 variations, were originally a big hit with parents like Pescovitz, and tailgaters, he said. Under the Weather began reaching out to crossing guards and ticket takers too, and business picked up in 2014. Since those early days, the company has sold a few hundred thousand pods according to Pescovitz

Read more: Chick-fil-A’s out-of-control drive-thru lines have it facing off against local businesses and battling lawsuits

When COVID hit the US in March 2020, it could have been disastrous for the niche company. Before the pandemic, 90% of customers were sports fans and music festival attendees, Pescovitz, said, and February through May was the busiest season. COVID essentially shut down all of the company’s usual business, and they were forced to pivot.

IntubationPodMinn

Peskovitz saw the need for PPE on the news and he thought, “we could do something like that.” Within four weeks Under the Weather had come up with a concept, samples, and the final product of the intubation pod, which provides extra protection for healthcare workers during one of the most potentially contagious procedures. Under the Weather donated and sold these pods to hospitals and EMTs.

Under the weather pods
Under the Weather Pods.

The wearable line has been the most popular since the start of the pandemic due to the rise of curbside pickup, Peskovitz told Insider. He says 25 to 30,000 sales can be directly attributed to COVID. Some Chick-fil-a locations use the walking pods for drive-thru and curbside employees, a deal that Peskovitz says has been “really good for us.”

Many people are “uncomfortable or too prideful,” to wear the pods, one Indiana Chick-fil-A employee told Insider. However, he likes them, saying “it keeps us dry, keeps iPads dry, blocks out the wind, and makes it more tolerable.”

NJ covid test

As drive-thru and curbside pickup continues to grow in importance, other brands are testing out the pods. Dunkin’ and Dutch Bros. Coffee have rolled them out, and they’re being tested at Portillos, Olive Garden, and Outback Steakhouse.

In the future, Peskovitz says he wants Under the Weather to grow sales to businesses and work with corporate chains directly, rather than finding interested franchisees to sell to separately. Private buyers can purchase pods directly from Under the Weather, or from Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or Walmart.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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Starbucks fired an employee over a TikTok video made at work as brands become increasingly wary of workers’ social media

starbucks barista
  • Starbucks fired an Indiana employee for a TikTok about demanding customers.
  • Workers at Chick-fil-A, Sherwin-Williams, and other companies have been fired after viral TikToks.
  • An analyst told Insider that companies are wary of anything that might damage the brand online.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A 19-year-old Starbucks barista says he was fired for posting a TikTok about work, Buzzfeed News reported.

Eli Servais posted a since-deleted video on TikTok in September showing ways he and his coworkers wish they could respond to demanding customers. “There were no customers there. We were closed or about to be closed, so we were just having fun. Nothing was broken or vandalized,” he told Buzzfeed.

Read more: Chick-fil-A’s out-of-control drive-thru lines have it facing off against local businesses and battling lawsuits

A Starbucks spokesperson told Buzzfeed that “there is an expectation that partners create a respectful, safe and welcoming environment.”

As TikTok’s popularity has grown, companies have struggled with how to deal with posts from employees. In July, an Ohio college student was fired by Sherman-Williams for his viral paint-mixing videos. Four airport employees in Fresno, California were fired last year after making videos of dance trends using airport equipment as props. A California Chick-fil-A worker said she was fired after posting a video of a menu-hack that gained millions of views.

These are just a few cases that have gained attention as companies decide how to police social media posts on the job. Nurses and cops are frequent offenders too, sometimes getting into trouble with managers, Fast Company reported.

Employees tend to feel that they’re giving companies positive attention.

“I personally don’t believe it is fair for employees to be fired over viral videos,” fired Chick-fil-A employee Ana told Insider in August. “I’m sure I gave Chick-fil-A a bunch of free publicity and don’t believe I should have been fired.”

In the case of the Fresno airport service agents, comments were almost entirely positive and commenters said that they shouldn’t have been fired. One of the workers, Tommy Chan, said that the head of airport social media told them “Nice video.”

The firing decisions can also be confusing to people outside the company. There are thousands of TikToks seemingly made by Starbucks baristas at work, and most don’t make the news. Law professor Elizabeth C. Tippett wrote that “even the most innocuous videos likely violate standard corporate social media policies.

Employees are often bound by social media policies that prohibit speaking on behalf of the company and using the brand without permission. Starbucks declined to share any further details about this specific case with Insider.

Until relatively recently, there were few ways for a young, low-level employee to create something about business viewed by millions, Kalinowski Equity Research founder Mark Kalinowski told Insider. Now it’s easy thanks to social media, most recently TikTok, and “ultimately any large company wants their brand to become more valuable over time, so they want to control their image,” Kalinowski said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Chick-fil-A is bringing its beloved sauces to more grocery stores. Walmart, Publix, HEB, and grocers in all states will get bottles this spring.

chick fil a sauce
  • Chick-fil-A is bringing 16-ounce sauces to stores across the US this spring.
  • Ten more states will have access to Chick-fil-A and Polynesian sauces by the end of March.
  • Restaurants also sell 8-ounce containers of all sauces.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Chick-fil-A’s popular sauces will soon be available at more locations than ever, the company confirmed to Insider.

16-ounce bottles of Chick-fil-A and Polynesian sauce will be available in ten states beginning later in March, Chick-fil-A said. Customers will be able to purchase the sauces in Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

Food Lion, Harris Teeter, HEB, Publix, Walmart, and Winn-Dixie will carry them, the company told Insider.

The full-sized sauces will be available across the US “later this spring.”

Read more: Chick-fil-A’s out-of-control drive-thru lines have it facing off against local businesses and battling lawsuits

Chick-fil-A first introduced bottled sauces in 2020 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. The company doesn’t release sales numbers, but it’s safe to say the sauces are popular given the number of copycat recipes around the internet.

Participating Chick-fil-A locations also sell eight ounce bottles of Chick-fil-A sauces, including Barbeque, Honey Mustard and Garden Herb Ranch.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Chick-fil-A customers across the US faced chaos – and free chicken – when the chain’s payments system crashed

chick fil a drive thru worker
Chick-fil-A customers received free food in the face of a system outage.

  • Chick-fil-A was unable to process payments for roughly an hour on Friday. 
  • The outage was tied to the chain’s third-party payment system. 
  • Many Chick-fil-A customers ended up getting free food when they were unable to pay.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Many Chick-fil-A customers faced an unexpected disruption on Friday. 

A representative for Chick-fil-A confirmed to Insider that the chain’s third-party payment vendor experienced an outage across many businesses that they serve on Friday. For roughly an hour, Chick-fil-A locations’ payment systems were unable to process payments. 

The problem has been resolved, and restaurants are once again processing payments as normal as of 1:45 pm ET on Friday, the representative said. 

For some customers however, there was a silver lining. Many Chick-fil-A locations started handing out free meals during the outage. 

Chick-fil-A has some of the longest drive-thru lines in fast food due to its immense popularity. The lengthy lines can create disruption even without an outage creating further confusion. 

Insider recently reported that Chick-fil-A is facing three separate lawsuits from local businesses who allege the chain’s drive-thru lines are causing problems. The chain is working to speed up drive-thru lines by having workers take orders on iPads, as well as rolling out new drive-thru designs and opening more locations. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Chick-fil-A is still the chicken sandwich king among people ordering delivery

Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich
  • Chick-fil-A is the most popular delivery choice among chicken sandwich sellers.
  • The chain had a 45% market share in December, with Popeyes in a distant second.
  • The crowded chicken sandwich world continues to grow as more brands introduce menu items.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

In the ongoing chicken sandwich wars, Chick-fil-A is easily the delivery winner with 45% of the market share.

Fast food brands have been competing in the red-hot chicken sandwich segment since August 2019, when Popeyes introduced a fried chicken sandwich. Online spats and snarky tweets quickly created a rivalry between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A in the months since. 

But despite the ongoing competition between the two top chicken sandwich chains, Chick-fil-A has been the nearly undisputed winner in online orders for nearly two years. The chain’s streak was only broken briefly in January 2020, when Popeyes overtook it in market share, according to data from Edison Trends.

In December 2020, the most recent month Edison has data for, Chick-fil-A was the clear winner with 45% of online order market share. Popeyes was a distant second with 17%, only barely beating McDonald’s 16%.

chicken sandwich wars feb 2021 chart 1

The top four restaurants, Chick-fil-A, Popeyes, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s, have all maintained their rankings since February 2020, but the introduction of several new chicken sandwich menu items has the potential to shake up the market in 2021.

The chicken sandwich fast food space is already crowded and growing, but there seems to be an appetite among consumers. Online spending on chicken sandwiches grew 420% between January 2019 and December 2020, according to Edison Trends.

Insider has reported that several chains gearing up to introduce competitors to Chick-fil-A and Popeyes, both of which sell crispy chicken sandwiches with pickles. In January, KFC introduced a crispy chicken sandwich at nine locations, available across the country by the end of February, and Jimmy John’s dropped its own version of the chicken sandwich in a Super Bowl ad. Burger King announced a new chicken sandwich coming later this year, and McDonald’s is bringing its own entry this month. Shake Shack is launching a limited-edition chicken sandwich collab in Houston, and even Taco Bell announced a chicken sandwich taco coming later this year.

Read the original article on Business Insider

6 ways Chick-fil-A is speeding up its massive drive-thru lines, from workers FaceTime-ing drivers to ghost kitchens

chick fil a drive thru worker
  • Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru lines are longer than ever during the pandemic, creating problems.
  • The chain has workers taking orders via iPad, and has introduced canopies and coats for outdoor employees.
  • Chick-fil-A is taking the pressure off drive-thrus with delivery, new locations, and ghost kitchens.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Chick-fil-A is an undisputed drive-thru expert. 

The chicken chain’s prowess is so well-known that, when a South Carolina town was facing a drive-thru  COVID-19 vaccine site disaster, authorities called the manager at the local Chick-fil-A. 

However, Chick-fil-A is dealing with more and more pressure to keep the crowds moving. The chain faced four lawsuits in 2020 over its massive drive-thru lines, Insider found. Average wait times reached eight minutes and eight seconds, minutes longer than competitors like McDonald’s and KFC. 

Still, Chick-fil-A is working hard to match new challenges with fresh innovation. The company said in a statement to Insider that it has “teams dedicated to constantly innovating and testing new ways to elevate the guest and Team Member experience and improve efficiency in the drive-thru.”

“Because we are always investing in this work, our local franchise Operators were able to act quickly at the onset of the pandemic to adapt to the pressures caused by closing our dining rooms,” the statement continued. 

Here are six techniques the chicken chain is using to stay on top of the drive-thru game. 

Workers with iPads

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Chick-fil-A employees take and delivery orders to cars directly.

The classic drive-thru involves customers pulling up to a speaker, ordering, then pulling up to a second window to collect food. 

Not so at Chick-fil-A. The chain stands out from the drive-thru crowd in large part thanks to its workers with iPads who take orders from cars even before they reach the window. At Chick-fil-A, ordering and delivery are “zones,” not set locations. 

However, these changes can make workers’ jobs harder.

“I’ve been out 3.5 hours on meal delivery when it was 10 degrees or less,” one 21-year-old employee at a Chick-fil-A in the Midwest told Insider. “We couldn’t see the end of our parking lot because of how thick this storm was. I had literal chunks of ice in my hair.”

New uniforms for workers in the heat and the snow

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At Chick-fil-A headquarters in 2019, modeling a uniform parka.

Chick-fil-A is doing everything it can to make these workers more comfortable, while keeping drive-thrus running smoothly. 

The company provides workers with different uniforms for various conditions, including a sunhat for bright Georgia summers and a winter coat for chilly Michigan winters. This winter, the chain rolled out new winter apparel, including gloves and weatherproof boots.   

Weather pods

CFA Weather pod.
A weather pod.

Sometimes, a new uniform is not enough. That’s when the weather pod comes in — a neon yellow and look almost like a combination of a small tent and a crossing guard’s vest.

Many people are “uncomfortable or too prideful,” to wear the pods, according to an Indiana Chick-fil-A employee. However, he said it has some advantages. 

“It keeps us dry, keeps iPads dry, blocks out the wind, and makes it more tolerable,” the employee told Insider. 

Employees taking customers’ orders via FaceTime

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The viral TikTok caused people to wonder if the Chick-fil-A employee was working from home.

Recently, a TikTok went viral showing what appeared to be a Chick-fil-A employee “working from home.” (In fact, the company said, she was inside the Chick-fil-A location’s office.)

The video shows customers placing orders with a Chick-fil-A worker, who is speaking with them virtually via tablet. 

Chick-fil-A confirmed to Insider that this is essentially a tech-savvy twist on having workers walk out to take orders. The tablet allows customers to see workers face-to-face, without having to wait for them to reach the actual building. 

“Some restaurants are using this during extreme weather as another measure to protect Team Members and/or for additional social distancing during COVID,” Chick-fil-A said in a statement. “It allows the Team Member to stay inside, while still offering guests the friendly customer experience of a smiling Team Member.” 

Heated canopies and shelters

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This Chick-fil-A features a heated canopy.

Some restaurants in areas with more extreme weather have heated canopies or other shelters, providing workers with protection from the cold, heat, and rain. 

“Our local franchise Operators are committed to caring for their Team Members and taking measures to keep them safe, including: offering frequent breaks, providing PPE, wellness checks and hand-washing stations throughout the pandemic as well as parkas, gloves and boots in cold weather and UV-protected clothing, sun-shades and misters in warm weather,” Chick-fil-A said in a statement. 

New stores and more ways to order

Kitchen United Conveyor
Ghost kitchens could help Chick-fil-A speed up drive-thrus by taking the pressure off of existing locations.

Chick-fil-A has rolled out mobile order and pay, which can reduce time in the drive-thru line. Curbside pickup can also alleviate crowds. Delivery is now widely available nationwide through third-party delivery partners such as Uber Eats and — at several hundred restaurants — Chick-fil-A restaurant workers, according to the company. 

Credit Suisse analyst Lauren Silberman said that one way Chick-fil-A can address the crowds is simply by building more locations nearby, or providing new ways to order food. 

That includes ghost kitchens, or kitchens that exclusively make Chick-fil-A for delivery customers. A few years ago, Chick-fil-A quietly started working with ghost kitchen startup Kitchen United to fulfill these orders. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

How Chick-fil-A is trying to keep drive-thru workers safe as long lines force employees to face harsh weather this winter

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  • Chick-fil-A relies on employees to work outside at drive-thrus, even in intense weather conditions.
  • The chain has introduced winter coats and heated canopies to keep employees safe and comfortable.
  • Four employees told Insider about what it’s really like at the beloved fast-food franchise.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Chick-fil-A is known for friendly employees and good service. But things aren’t always so cheery for some workers behind the scenes. 

“I’ve been out 3.5 hours on meal delivery when it was 10 degrees or less,” one 21-year-old employee at a Chick-fil-A in the Midwest told Insider. “We couldn’t see the end of our parking lot because of how thick this storm was. I had literal chunks of ice in my hair.”

The worker said that she has worked outside in snow, rain, and hail. Chick-fil-A told Insider that it prioritizes worker safety and employees get frequent breaks.

Chick-fil-A has long been hailed as a drive-thru success story, with customers happy to wait in line for an average of more than eight minutes – the longest in the fast food – to get their chicken sandwiches. 

However, with Chick-fil-A’s drive-thru business booming in the pandemic, some workers are dealing with more pressure than ever before. Insider spoke with four Chick-fil-A employees, in four different states, about working the chain’s drive-thru lines.

Employees describe working outside in freezing weather, as the chain sends employees directly to cars to speed up drive-thrus. At the same time, workers said that Chick-fil-A is rolling out new strategies to keep them safe and comfortable, from winter jackets to the polarizing “pod.” 

Some Chick-fil-A workers say they struggle to stay warm, as the chain depends on them working outside

In recent years, it has become an increasingly common practice for Chick-fil-A workers to walk up to cars to personally take orders, in an effort to speed up the line. 

“They’ll put their employees out in that drive-thru line to take your order, in some instances, very far away from the actual physical store,” Kalinowski Equity Research founder Mark Kalinowski told Insider.

“For the massive lines that a lot of them have, I do think that helps speed things up,” Kalinowski continued. “It helps give people confidence that even when they’re entering a big, long line of cars, that it’s going to be worth the wait and the wait is not going to be all that tremendously bad.” 

While having employees take orders on tablets can speed up business, it also requires employees to spend time outside in some less-than-ideal conditions, as the four employees Insider spoke to shared.

An Indiana Chick-fil-A employee said his restaurant policy meant that workers get assigned to work outside at the drive-thru at temperatures of 25 degrees or above, regardless of wind chill. When temperatures drop below 25 degrees, workers 17 and younger are swapped out in 15-minute intervals, or an employee over 18 takes over, according to the policy at his Indiana location.

During cold shifts, the employee in Indiana told Insider that the general rule is to stay outside “as long as you can.” He says employees who ask for a replacement typically get one within ten to fifteen minutes. A Minnesota employee told Insider that at his location, drive-thru workers are allowed to go inside for breaks when they need to, and outdoor workers are brought inside by 6:45 at this time of year. 

An employee in another location in the Midwest said that at her store the policy is not to make anyone go outside once it feels likes 25 degrees, although this is not strictly enforced.

Chick-fil-A said that operations vary by restaurants, and that that locations have the authority to pause curbside delivery when necessary, especially in the case of inclement weather and darkness. 

“Our restaurant teams have worked tirelessly to share a smile through their masks and deliver a seamless, contactless experience, primarily through our drive-thru and curbside service as most dining rooms remain closed,” the company said in a statement. 

CFA Henrietta

Chick-fil-A is creating new fixes for employees working outside

According to the Indiana employee, workers take multiple steps to deal with frigid temperatures. 

On colder days, the Indiana employee usually wears a “hoodie, gloves, light jacket, and parka,” he said. The Midwestern employee wears a fleece jacket, winter jacket, and snow pants along with boots, a hat, and gloves on the coldest days. A 16-year-old employee in a Minnesota location confirmed that the company provides warm weather gear necessary for working cold shifts, though he is responsible for some pieces, like boots and thermal underwear. 

Chick-fil-A provides employees with a light jacket and a parka, and they can wear anything underneath as long as the uniform pieces are on top.

The company told Insider that it released new winter apparel this year which restaurant operators can order for employees. The new gear includes gloves, base layers, boots, and a jacket designer to keep the wearer warm in sub-zero temperatures. However, the company said workers would not be outside in temperatures that low. 

CFA Weather pod.
Weatherpod.

The other weather protection gear provided by Chick-fil-A is more controversial among employees.

Weather pods are neon yellow and look almost like a combination of a small tent and a crossing guard’s vest. Many people are “uncomfortable or too prideful,” to wear the pods, the Indiana employee told Insider. However, he likes them, saying “it keeps us dry, keeps iPads dry, blocks out the wind, and makes it more tolerable.”

“Restaurant Team Members embody the spirit of Chick-fil-A and there is nothing more important than their safety,” the company said in a statement to Insider. 

Chick-fil-A said that as the company adjusted its drive-thrus strategies during the pandemic, safety was fundamental, whether that be protection from the weather or from COVID-19. 

“We recognize our Operators’ Team Members are working extra hard to accommodate an increase in drive-thru and delivery orders while most restaurant dining rooms remain closed during this time, and we are grateful for their commitment to providing guests with our signature service and hospitality despite the many challenges of the past year,” the statement continued. 

The chain is also testing some high-tech solutions. Recently, a TikTok went viral showing a Chick-fil-A taking an order via FaceTime, allowing the employee to stay safe and warm inside. 

Chick-fil-A said in a statement to Insider that the TikTok showed essentially the “same ‘face-to-face’ ordering you’ve likely seen in the drive-thru, just done virtually.”

“Some restaurants are using this during extreme weather as another measure to protect Team Members and/or for additional social distancing during COVID,” Chick-fil-A continued. “It allows the Team Member to stay inside, while still offering guests the friendly customer experience of a smiling Team Member.”

Chick-fil-A’s long lines are giving workers some new problems to handle 

Drive-thrus give employees other problems to handle besides harsh weather.

Insider found that Chick-fil-A has faced at least four lawsuits from local businesses and customers related to its drive-thru lanes since the pandemic began. Other business owners told Insider that out-of-control drive-thru lines are hurting their businesses, trapping in cars and driving away customers.

Often, it’s up to these employees to handle the angry customers and business owners. The Indiana employee said he has encountered customers who have become “aggressive” over enforcing mask policies, leading to arguments. 

CFA Henrietta

The Indiana Chick-fil-A worker said a nearby local Applebee’s escalated drive-thru complaints to the authorities. According to the employee, the city ordered Chick-fil-A to reroute the drive-thru, which often goes down a main street and blocks traffic.

“We get overwhelmed and have nowhere else to put it,” the 17-year-old supervisor told Insider.

The location finally reached an agreement with the city that requires the chain to speed up work on a remodeled drive-thru, which will have two lanes to cut down on traffic.

The remodel comes with other perks for workers, too. An overhang over the drive-thru lanes will block out rain and sun. They will also come equipped with fans and heaters, all of which could make outdoor shifts easier on employees.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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Chick-fil-A will stop selling bagels and decaf coffee this spring. Here are all the menu changes coming soon.

chick fil a coffee
  • Chick-fil-A is eliminating bagels and hot decaf coffee from menus this spring.
  • The chain will also consolidate sizing options on other parts of the menu.
  • Many fast food chains have slimmed down menus in the last year to keep wait times short and deal with supply issues.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Chick-fil-A is slimming down its menu this spring, the chain has confirmed to Insider. 

Two items – bagels and decaf hot coffee – are being totally removed from the chain’s menus in coming months along with other size changes to consolidate its offerings and make way for new items.

The four and six-piece kids’ nugget meals will replaced with a five-piece meal, while milkshake, coffee, and ice cream cone sizes will also be narrowed. The company reportedly tested some of these changes in 2020 in some Arizona and North Carolina locations.

“Later this spring, we will remove two items from the national menu, the bagel and decaf hot coffee, as well as consolidate several of our size offerings,” a Chick-fil-A spokesperson said in an email. “Streamlining our menu will allow for us to continue providing our customers the quality food and service they’ve come to expect, as well as make room for new future menu items.”

Other fast food chains have cut menus since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to keep up with supply chain changes, customer desires, and to make drive-thru waits shorter. McDonald’s discontinued breakfast all day, salads, grilled chicken sandwiches, and chicken tenders in March to “simplify operations in our kitchens and for our crew,” Insider reported last spring.

Taco Bell cut more than a dozen items in 2020, including fan favorites like the seven-layer burrito and Mexican pizza. Despite outcry from fans last year, the leaner menu proved to be a smart decision as the chain shifted to more drive-thru orders, and sales grew 5% in the quarter following the menu change.

Chick-fil-A is consistently selected as the preferred drive-thru among customers based on QSR’s annual study, despite also have the longest waits. A slightly slimmer menu might alleviate some of that wait time.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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Popeyes is launching a a new fish sandwich nationwide

popeyes fish
  • Popeyes is releasing a flounder sandwich on February 11.
  • The chain is still feeling the success of the chicken sandwich over rivals.
  • The fish sandwich release right before Lent might be a bid for Catholic customers.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Popeyes is releasing a new sandwich, but this time it isn’t chicken. The chain is launching the Cajun Flounder Sandwich beginning on Thursday, February 11 across the US.

The sandwich consists of flaky Pacific flounder with Cajun seasoning on a toasted brioche bun with tartar sauce and the fan-favorite pickles from Popeyes’ chicken sandwich. It will retail for $4.49.

As an added perk, the restaurant is offering “sandwich insurance” to customers who try the new offering. For an extra 15 cents on launch day, customers ordering through the Popeyes app can purchase insurance guaranteeing that the chain will replace the fish sandwich with chicken if you don’t like it.

Read more: Inside McDonald’s reckoning on race amid billion-dollar lawsuits and unprecedented new efforts

Popeyes joins many other fast-food chains in offering a fish sandwich, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and Arby’s. Rival Chick-fil-A doesn’t currently have a fish sandwich on the menu, but it sold one in 2019 during Lent when chains often compete to win Catholic customers with non-meat options. Popeyes announcement comes only a week before the start of Lent, so the chain might be making a similar move.

Popeyes famously released a chicken sandwich in 2019 that became the fast food item of the year, leading to record sales and chicken sandwich wars between major face food brands. The competition is still ongoing, after KFC just released a new chicken sandwich and McDonald’s plans to roll out three new chicken sandwiches in late February, and Burger King was spotted testing out a chicken sandwich in October. Wendy’s also released a new “classic chicken sandwich” in October, replacing the older “homestyle chicken sandwich.”

The success of Popeyes’ chicken sandwich has likely kept sales strong as the pandemic led to decreasing sales across the industry. In the third quarter of 2020, Popeyes owner Restaurant Brands International reported sales were up 17.4%, even as sales declines at sibling brands Tim Hortons and Burger King.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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