Your next home-cooked meal could come courtesy of an unlikely source: Chick-fil-A. If you’re an Atlanta resident, that is.
The Southern fast-food chain, famous for its chicken in all forms (sandwiches, nuggets and strips), is rolling out meal kits—called “mealtime kits”—in its headquarters city next month.
The kits are done somewhat in the vein of a Blue Apron or HelloFresh: Each kit contains a recipe and the ingredients to make said recipe. However, different from the aforementioned services is that Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are subscription services, while Chick-fil-A’s kits will be available for pickup at their stores.
And right now, the kits, priced at $15.89, are only available at stores in Atlanta—though there are plans to expand to other markets in the future. (The company has already received over 5,000 forms expressing interest in bringing the kits to other cities online, from customers all over the country.) The kits are rolling out in stores on Aug, 27, with a widespread marketing campaign that will run in Atlanta via social, search, audio, DJ reads and online video.
Michael Patrick, a principal program lead for innovation and new ventures at Chick-fil-A, said the idea first came to the team three years ago, when the meal kit world was “in its infancy.” Though Chick-fil-A considered it then, the team decided the timing wasn’t right. But with the explosion of meal kit services over the past few years, Patrick said that now felt like the right time to enter the space.
“A lot of times, it’s not can you do something, but should you do it, from a timing perspective?” he said. “We felt that this was the right time.”
It’s the right time in part, he said, because fresh ingredients have become more and more prioritized in the lives of today’s consumers. Patrick said that with its mealtime kits, Chick-fil-A is offering just that coupled with the ease of experience customers normally get at their restaurants. You order a mealtime kit the same way you would your nuggets: Through the drive-thru, or at the Chick-fil-A counter.
“People want fresher and fresher ingredients, but they also don’t want to sacrifice convenience,” Patrick said. “And whenever we talk about innovation, we’re thinking about consumers first.”
A major focus, of course, was good taste. “You can market something, but it has to be fantastic,” Patrick said. “Craveable food is our No.1 priority here, after safe food.”
There are currently five meal kits available, all of which feature recipes you wouldn’t normally expect from Chick-fil-A (except for that fact that each is chicken-based).
Developed by Stuart Tracy, a Chick-fil-A chef and Atlanta restauranteur, they are Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Enchiladas, Dijon Chicken, Pan Roasted Chicken and Chicken Flatbread. Each restaurant that carries the meal kits will only offer two of them at a time. Patrick said that it was a year-long process to narrow the selection down to these five recipes, that came with consumer testing and Chick-fil-A’s culinary team crafting 25 to 30 initial ideas.
For Chick-fil-A, these kits serve as a chance for the brand to be a bigger part of their customers’s diet: Instead of leaving with one meal after a trip to a Chick-fil-A location, they can leave with two.
“We know that majority of consumers are figuring out what they want for dinner an hour or two before dinner actually happens,” Patrick said. “An opportunity to come through and pick up a meal kit day of, for an affordable price, at a drive-through, over the counter in a restaurant is really compelling for our customers.”
And what sets Chick-fil-A’s meal kits apart from its competitors is the thing the brand is known for: Its chicken. Patrick said Chick-fil-A hopes its cachet in that space will help secure the kits’s success.
“It’s the chicken that you know, and we’ve built around that, because that’s where we’re uniquely qualified,” he said. “We serve really good chicken.”