ALDI and Chick-fil-A open doors in Bensalem

The two locations celebrated grand openings on Nov. 29

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

What’s new in food: The new Chick-fil-A at 1525 Street Road is the first stand-alone restaurant in Bensalem. The nearly 5,000-square-foot spot has been designed to enhance all aspects of a guest’s experience, from the drive-thru to the counter to in-house dining. Source: Chick-fil-A

As far as new local food options go, it was a busy day in Bensalem on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 29. While the sun rose, dozens braved the cold to be the first in line at two fresh spots — ALDI at 620 Rockhill Drive and Chick-fil-A at 1525 Street Road — to receive special opening day discounts.

At 8:45 a.m., ALDI hosted a ceremonial ribbon-cutting followed by the popular Golden Ticket giveaway, which offered gift cards to the first 100 customers. Attendees were also able to sample exclusive products and enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a year’s supply of ALDI produce.

The new location is part of a $3.4 billion investment to expand to 2,500 stores nationwide by the end of 2022, and its updated layout provides an improved in-store experience with additional refrigeration space to accommodate more fresh, healthy and convenient products.

“Shopping for groceries is essential. That’s why we’re committed to making it something people look forward to,” said Bob Grammer, Center Valley division vice president for ALDI. “We’re thrilled to welcome even more of the Bensalem community to experience what makes ALDI one of the fastest-growing retailers in the U.S.”

Compared to last year, 20 percent of the ALDI product selection is new, an initiative that’s part of the next phase of the company’s aggressive, national growth and remodel plan. As part of the product expansion, ALDI is increasing its fresh food selection by 40 percent with organic, easy-to-prepare options. The store also features open ceilings, natural lighting and environment-friendly building materials.

According to Grammer, there are a number of ALDI features that make it unique from other grocery stores. It offers a streamlined selection that removes the guesswork from shopping, putting the focus on offering the best options rather than carrying two dozen types of a product; it simplifies operations, including a 25-cent grocery cart rental; and sells random items on purpose such as rain boots in the spring or Dutch ovens at Thanksgiving.

ALDI will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

As for Chick-fil-A, this is the first stand-alone restaurant in Bensalem. The nearly 5,000-square-foot spot has been designed to enhance all aspects of a guest’s experience, from the drive-thru to the counter to in-house dining.

Highlights include a dining room that seats 125 with a vintage-inspired interior, including a large gathering table made from reclaimed wood, light fixtures from recycled Coca-Cola bottles and peach baskets, and an interactive two-story, indoor play area; designated pickup counter for Chick-fil-A app customers, as well as dedicated parking spots; a full-service menu with a variety of healthy and dietary options; and a two-lane drive-thru merging into a single pickup point that can handle up to 200 cars an hour.

Ahead of the grand opening, local franchise owner Jonathan Marple invited residents to join in the festivities by participating in a 15-year Chick-fil-A tradition. Beginning at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28, locals could register for the family-friendly overnight First 100 party, which included fun, engaging activities for all ages and, of course, Chick-fil-A meals.

By registering for the event, up to 100 adults had the chance to win a digital offer card with a year of free Chick-fil-A meals (52 meals with each consisting of a chicken sandwich, medium waffle potato fries and a medium beverage). The winners were slated to be announced at 5:45 a.m. on Nov. 29.

The overnight celebration included the opportunity to write letters to members of the military, which will be distributed by Operation Gratitude to deployed troops, veterans and first responders, and a children’s book drive. Since 2014, Chick-fil-A has donated nearly 70,000 books to 341 local organizations in 45 states and Washington, D.C.

The Street Road location employed nearly 110 team members, who are able to reap the benefits of Chick-fil-A’s Remarkable Futures education initiative. This year, more than 5,700 team members were awarded $14.65 million in scholarships, a $5.7 million increase from 2017 and one of the highest unrestricted per-employee scholarship investments in the industry. Team members who are beginning or continuing their higher education are awarded scholarships in the amount of $2,500 or $25,000 that can be applied to any area of study at any accredited institution. In addition, team members have access to tuition discounts and other educational benefits at 100 colleges and universities nationwide.

For Marple, it’s a thrill to be able to bring these opportunities to a new area. Marple became a Chick-fil-A team member in Newnan, Georgia, in 2010 and opened his first location in Willow Grove Park in 2015.

“I am excited to bring Chick-fil-A to Bensalem and have an opportunity to serve the community outside my restaurant,” Marple said. “I am committed to developing my team members as together we provide a remarkable experience to our guests who become part of our family.”

Chick-fil-A is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. More information about the location and employment opportunities can be found at cfabensalem.com. ••

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com