by Phil W. Hudson

An Atlanta native and Spelman College graduate will open Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A Inc.’s first location in downtown Los Angeles.

Ashley Derby will soon leave her current post as the franchise owner of the University of Southern California Chick-fil-A restaurant to take the helm of the new location at 660 South Figueroa Street as its franchise owner.

Derby began her career as a Chick-fil-A franchise owner when she was 26, which makes her one of the youngest franchise owners in Chick-fil-A history.

Derby began her career as a Chick-fil-A franchise owner when she was 26, which makes her one of the youngest franchise owners in Chick-fil-A history. She got her first job with the company when she was just 15 and began working as a Team Member at a restaurant in Atlanta as a way to earn money to buy her first car and continued throughout her years attending Spelman College before taking the job at the University of Southern California Chick-fil-A.

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“The energy in downtown L.A. is palpable,” Derby said in a statement. “I cannot wait to become a part of this growing neighborhood, and I look forward to welcoming our guests with hand-crafted food and hospitality.”

The 6,500 square-foot restaurant will employ about 80 full- and part-time employees and occupy a two-story space on basement and street levels. It will feature dining room seating for 80 and a community table for large gatherings.

Atlanta Business Chronicle recently reported Chick-fil-A took the No. 1 spot for chicken restaurant brand of the year in the 2017 Harris Poll EquiTrend Study, beating out another local chain, Zaxby’s, which placed second.

The Harris Poll, which measures brand health over time, seeks input from more than 100,000 consumers about 4,000 brands across 450 categories.

Among this year’s findings, the poll revealed just how much millennials are beefing up restaurant brands, especially coffee and quick-service chains, casual dining eateries and chicken restaurants.

“Restaurants continue to adapt to the millennial lifestyle, and advancements in ordering methods such as Starbucks’ mobile app and Chick-fil-A’s ‘Mom Valet’ are likely influencing millennials’ higher brand equity scores,” said Joan Sinopoli, vice president of brand solutions at The Harris Poll. “While the millennial dollar is powerful and attractive, and many are clearly enjoying their rising disposable income, baby boomers already have the cash to spend on meals out and need to be courted.”

Chick-fil-A had nearly $8 billion of sales in 2016 and currently has more than 2,100 restaurants in 46 states and Washington, D.C.

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