Warwick, RI – Chick-fil-A’s first Rhode Island restaurant at 1500 Bald Hill Road opened for business at 9 a.m. Thursday, welcomed by city officials including Warwick and Cranston’s mayors and a flag-raising by the Warwick Fire Department.
“They took a tired old building and turned it into a new business venture,” said Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian after the flag-raising by WFD’s Rescue Lt. Mike Carreiro and Firefighter Christian Henrikson and a moment of silence in observance of the approaching anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“We look forward to your great success at this building.” Cranston Mayor Alan Fung, a friend of franchise owner Toushoua Xiong, “We’re so proud to have you here providing a great product,” Fung said to his friend.
Also on hand to welcome the new business were City Councilor Camille Vella-Wilkinson, Warwick Director of Tourism, Culture & Development Karen Jedson, and President/CEO of the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce Lauren Slocum.
Xiong, who noted his application was one of 80 Chick-fil-A franchises approved by each year out of some 10,000, said he lobbied to open the store in Warwick.
“They said, ‘Where do you want to move?’ I said, ‘I don’t want to move,’ Xiong told the crowd. Xiong’s family, including his wife, Pang, children Ella, 7 and Nathaniel, 10, his parents Ger and Chang and Pang’s parents Tia and Xee Kha were also present for the grand opening, which culminated in a group ribbon cutting, followed by a photo of them and the assembled officials enjoying Chick-fil-A sandwiches together.
Xiong said he retired from his state job at the RI Department of Health to open the franchise, seeking a new direction as a businessman. “Some people get a sports car. I get a franchise,” he said.