Students of M.C. uttered a collective hallelujah when news broke in late August of a Chick-fil-A restaurant coming to campus in the near future. Instagram was alive with reposts of the glad tidings, and pictures of Dr. Blake Thompson shaking hands – or hooves – with the restaurant’s cow mascot filled students’ social media feeds.
As the celebrations shorten with the arrival of classes and homework, students are beginning to ask questions and wonder about the finer details of the expected restaurant, which some claim serves “God’s chicken.” So, The Collegian sent a few questions over to Nelson Hall to put our happy hearts and hungry stomachs at ease. Here’s what we know, with thanks to M.C. administrators and Dr. Thompson:
Chick-fil-A is a restaurant guided by Christian principles that values community service; as such, it will be a valuable addition to, and an enhancement of, our Christian culture here at Mississippi College.
Work on the future eatery began last spring and ran into the summer as a site was selected and a concept designed. The plan is to demolish portions of Alumni Hall after finals in December. Counting the former swimming pool area, the locker rooms, and some additional space in the Commons itself, over 20,000 square feet of space is available for the new Chick-fil-A. This space will not only provide a brand-new addition to Campus Dining, but another space to study and socialize.
The new Chick-fil-A should be completed in Summer 2020 and ready to serve students in Fall 2020. As it gets off the ground, the Chick-fil-A will offer an early lunch time while preparing extended night service and a breakfast menu. It will be managed by Campus Dining, who will hire and staff it. Chick-fil-A will train workers at the start, and leave the rest to Campus Dining. The new Chick-fil-A will also accept points, just like 1826, Pimento’s, and the coffee and smoothie shops.
“Sharing meals is a way to show our love to people,” said Thompson. “We love our students.”
And students love Chick-fil-A! Perhaps the most vocal of the restaurant’s fans – at least in recent history – is Jared Vardaman.
Vardaman is a junior studying public relations and music with a background in gospel singing. He’s loved singing since he was three years old, when he was a part of a family worship group called “The Vardamans.” He loves all kinds of music, but his heart is really in Christian music, “If I’m doing anything else, I feel like His hand’s not on it.”
Vardaman made headlines after he posted his rendition of Christian comedian Tim Hawkins’s “God Bless You, Chick-fil-A” on Facebook in response to the aforementioned news. In his video he belts, in a voice as smooth as Chick-fil-A sauce, his love for the restaurant and its impending arrival to his college. In one day, the video got 15,000 views and was quickly picked up by local news outlets. All in all, he has appeared on three podcasts and an interview with WAPT. Chick-fil-A even sent him a gift of several complimentary meal cards and apparel. He’s even signed autographs at a local high school football game.
But more than that, Vardaman appreciates the overwhelming endorsement of his artistic abilities. “It’s very rare you see people being overwhelmingly positive,” he said, “and that was really cool for me seeing that feedback on my voice and my music.”
Chick-fil-A has already had a profound impact on this campus and hasn’t even broken ground yet. It has allowed people like Vardaman to express themselves and has brought joy and excitement to a time usually spent frantically trying to achieve the perfect school/work/life balance. The students of Mississippi College will be on pins and needles waiting for their beloved chicken to come.
In fact, I hear another heavenly refrain lifting up now…