After 56 years, Chick-fil-A will cease operations at Greenbriar Mall in southwest Atlanta. 

The closing at the city’s first shopping mall and Chick-fil-A’s first location, doesn’t necessarily mean the declining mall is about to close. It’s more of a corporate strategy to move out declining malls across the country. 

With the growth of shopping malls starting in the late 1960s through the mid-90s, Chick-fil-A, who pioneered the fast food restaurant in malls, experienced tremendous growth during those years and became a household name in the southeast. 

When the restaurant opened its first store in 1967 at Greenbriar Mall the Ben Hill community was still predominantly white and was just at the beginning of the white flight to the suburbs. 

In less than a decade the demographics has changed over to mostly middle class blacks, that did not affect the sales of the store. The store continued to have respectful sales to this day.

Seeing the slowing growth of shopping malls during the decade of the 1980s, the company opened its first stand-alone store in 1986 on North Druid Hills in Atlanta. The advantages were immediate. 

Having free standing stores meant the company had more control over its hours. Most malls opened by 10 a.m. and closed by 9 p.m. except during the Christmas shopping season. Now the stores could open earlier for breakfast, stay open until 10 p.m. and they could add a drive-thru like their burger competitors – McDonald’s and Burger King. 

Greenbriar had shortened its hours after the pandemic to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Two weeks ago the store posted a sign letting customers know that after Saturday, May 20 the curtain comes down on this historic location. It asks its customers to either go to the location at Camp Creek Marketplace or on Cascade Road. 

The closing of the restaurant follows the closing of another long standing restaurant in Captain D’s which had a stand-alone store out front of the mall. 

The closure of the Greenbriar location will be followed with the opening of a new location at the busy intersection of Boulevard and Ponce de Leon Avenue, next door to the Popeye’s Chicken.

Chick-fil-A Milestones

(Source: Chick-fil-A)

1946 – Truett Cathy opens his original diner, the Dwarf Grill, in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville (later renamed Dwarf House®)

1964 – After testing out hundreds of recipes, Truett Cathy created the recipe for the original chicken sandwich with two pickles on a toasted butter bun in 1964.

1967 – Truett Cathy pioneers in-mall dining with the opening of the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Greenbriar Mall. 

1973 – Truett Cathy establishes the Team member Scholarship program to encourage employees to further their education.

1977 – Chick-filA introduces freshly squeezed lemonade.

1982 – Chick-fil-A becomes the first restaurant chain to sell chicken nuggets nationally.

1985 – Waffle Potato Fries are introduced. 

1986 – The first stand-alone restaurant opens on North Druid Hills Road in Atlanta.

The first breakfast item is introduced, the Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit. 

1989 – Chargrilled chicken sandwich is introduced. 

1995 – Chick-n-strips are introduced.

1996 – Chick-fil-A begins its longtime sponsorship of the Peach Bowl.

2006 – Handspun milkshakes and the spicy chicken sandwich are introduced.

2006 – System wide sales surpasses $2 billion. 

2014 – Founder Truett Cathy passes away at the age of 93.

2015 – The first and largest store opens in New York City’s Garment District.