McALLEN - There was an electrician fiddling with unseen wires, the tables were all wiped down with their centerpieces blooming and a light bustle of the new employees learning the ways of making a Chick-Fil-A operate like a well-oiled machine were just a few things before the official opening.
Some employees wore gray polos, others black chef's coats but each with the signature red lining of their uniform.
Luis Magdaleno is the newest owner/operator of a Chick-Fil-A in the Rio Grande Valley. Tomorrow morning at 6:30 a.m. he will watch as 100 people will pitch camping tents for the opportunity to win free Chick-Fil-A for a year and when his restaurant officially opens Thursday March 23 the long lines at the drive-thru will ensue but as Magdaleno put it, “it should only take about 30 seconds to get your food.”
While Magdaleno has been an operator for about a year and a half Chick-Fil-A is not new to him. His father Joe was an operator in Brownsville for 30 years with a couple locations until his death in 2012.
Luis wanted to move to back to the Rio Grande Valley not only to be closer to his family but to grow as an operator. He learned the ropes of the restaurant business in Houston from another operator and then at a corporate-owned Chick-Fil-A. He was granted a restaurant in Laredo and now in McAllen.
A couple reasons led to Magdaleno operating a Chick-Fil-A in McAllen.
“This is where the mecca of the Rio Grande Valley is and the growth is going outward from here,” he said. “There was also no opportunity in Brownsville.”
The 28-year-old will bring on his sister as a marketing director and his mother to help with the operations. He admits he didn't always know he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps even though being exposed to the business throughout high school and college.
But seeing his parents involved with the community the idea of being an operator was becoming more and more a reality.
“It was really special to see,” Magdaleno said. “I guess the family gene just took over me and a side of me wanted to pursue a business of my own.”
Magdaleno's family gene has indeed kicked in, as the first 100 campers wait for their free Chick-Fil-A they will help prep 10,000 meals for the needy. There will also be a children’s book drive during the grand opening that will benefit Buckner Rio Grande Valley. The donated books will serve as a library exchange.
Chick-Fil-A will officially open March 23 at 6:30 a.m. and is located on corner of Nolana Avenue and 27th Street.