Chick-Fil-A in Russell Union now “Chick-Fil-A Express,” Starbucks expanded

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  • Students wait for their food in the dining area of Chick-Fil-A. 

  • Chick-Fil-A is now “Chick-Fil-A Express,” complete with new menu additions: Chick-n-Minis, cookies and yogurt parfaits.

  • Starbucks employees prepare drinks in front of the restaurant’s brand new bar.

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Brett Daniel

The changes

Over the summer, GS commissioned massive renovations in the Russell Union for both Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks.

Chick-Fil-A was remodeled and is now called “Chick-Fil-A Express,” and Starbucks has been expanded with more seating and standing space, new tables and chairs, and a lengthy bar.

Bob Hisey, assistant director of University Housing and Auxiliary Facilities, said Chick-Fil-A was “rebuilt, replaced and refurbished” to meet Chick-Fil-A’s current franchise standards.

“We did an entire gut-out of the kitchen, the customer service area and the dining area,” he said.

This “gut-out” includes changes to Chick-Fil-A’s menu as well as new flooring, kitchen equipment and point-of-sale systems.

Jamie Ellis, Chick-Fil-A’s assistant manager, said the new menu includes Chick-n-Minis, cookies and yogurt parfaits. Some menu items were removed, however, including chicken soup, gravy, chicken salad sandwiches and biscuits containing eggs.

Starbucks was also updated to meet new franchise standards. Similar to Chick-Fil-A, the restaurant was also “completely gutted out,” according to Hisey.

“Everything you see in there is new,” he said. “We knocked down walls and increased seating space.”

In addition to more seating and standing space, Hisey said the renovated Starbucks also includes more preparation and customer service space, as well as new wall art and flooring.

Hisey added that the renovations were done completely by staff from University Housing and Auxiliary Services. He said doing it this way saved GS “quite a bit of money” because the university didn’t have to hire outside contractors.

Student responses

Ashlinn Watford, senior mechanical engineering major, said Chick-Fil-A’s lines are still long, but that she understands why because they get so busy. Despite this, Watford seemed to enjoy the visual changes made to the restaurant.

“It looks nice,” Watford said. “It looks a little bit more organized.”

Madison Teaster, a junior writing and linguistics major who frequents Starbucks, is a transfer student from Valdosta State University, where she says the Starbucks there is tiny compared to the new Starbucks in the Union.

“I walked in and I was like, ‘What happened?’” Teaster said. “They opened it up a lot more. It’s really nice.”

Other changes

Aside from Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks, GS also commissioned two other changes to the Union over the summer.

Sandi Wilkinson, who oversaw the renovations project, said new air-conditioning units have been installed.

In addition, the ATMs that used to be located across from Starbucks have been moved to Landrum Dining Commons.