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How to navigate the Billings Chick-fil-A's opening

Traffic plan maps below
Billings Chick-fil-A ribbon cutting
Posted at 4:30 PM, Jan 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-18 19:38:39-05

BILLINGS — After months of anticipation, Billings' first Chick-fil-A restaurant will open its doors to the public at 6:30 a.m. Thursday. The restaurant held a ribbon cutting and small test run for a select group of community members Wednesday.

If you plan on going anytime in the first two weeks, pay attention: there’s a very specific plan to follow that's been months in the making.

"Our request for the public: Be patient," said Billings city engineer Mac Fogelsong. "Try to operate under the plan."

Fogelsong knows Thursday is going to be a busy one near 24th Street West and King Avenue.

"I think there’s going to be challenges, but some things in life you just have to attack as they come," Fogelsong said.

But that doesn’t mean Fogelsong and Chick-fil-A’s team of engineers are just winging this. They've developed a traffic plan, in place likely for the first several weeks of the new location's opening.

Chick-fil-A traffic plan
All Chick-fil-A customers are instructed to enter the restaurant's line by using the marketplace entrance at King Avenue and 26th Street West.

The most important point? All customers, dine-in and drive-thru, are supposed to enter at King and 26th, even though the restaurant entrance is much closer to 24th. But anyone expecting to enter that way will have plenty of reminders not to.

"There are going to be advanced message boards both directions on 24th that say, ‘Use King Ave.,’" Fogelsong said. "That will allow traffic to stack on site in the marketplace, and not on the streets."

Once customers get into the shopping center, they are supposed to make their first right just past Rocky Mountain Bank. They'll eventually reach one of two Billings police officers, on site to help manage things. These are current officers working extra duty, being paid by Chick-fil-A at a rate the department says is almost always higher than what they normally make on shift.

That officer will ask drive thru or dine-in. If it's dine-in, the customer will go to the stop sign, turn left toward the restaurant and try to find a parking spot. If it’s drive-thru, they will turn left immediately down an aisle of the Walmart parking lot. Chick-fil-A worked it out with Walmart to use the two easternmost aisles as a queue, because they know what an opening can look like.

Chick-fil-A traffic plan
The Chick-fil-A drive-thru line will snake through the two easternmost aisles of the Walmart parking lot.

Chick-fil-A has requested police help through Jan. 28, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day. After that, Fogelsong hopes he’ll be able to move on.

"It has a lot of press right now, but after it’s operating, it should be back to normal conditions and should work," he said.

We’ll see just popular this chicken is.