PALMHURST – At 5:45 a.m. Joe Gonzalez arrived at his new Chick-Fil-A to greet those eagerly waiting for a year supply of chicken sandwiches.

There were about 175 people waiting for the new restaurant to open. A lottery was held for those in attendance and 110 people won Chick-Fil-A for a year.

Gonzalez has lived in the La Joya area for 15 years. He was an administrator for La Joya ISD for many years. Three years ago over the holiday season his sister was visiting from Chicago and told him about current form of employment.

“She started talking to me about the company and their commitment to not only serve good food but to provide opportunities for team members,” Gonzalez said.

All it took was the small talk with his sister for Gonzalez to consider applying to become an owner operator. Gonzalez knew he had an important role at the school district. He was in charge of federal programs and he had to look out for the needs of 30,000 students.

But if Chick-Fil-A were to grant him a franchise he could be more impactful for 100 lives.

The company reached out to Gonzalez and he interviewed for a franchise. The Rio Grande City native said he was impressed because executives wanted to know about him, his family and his involvement in the community.

“We really didn't talk about the business side,” he said. “It was more about how you as person fit in to what Chick-Fil-A wants to do within the community.”

Gonzalez hopes to be a staple in the surrounding communities around his restaurant which will include Mission, Alton, Palmview, Penitas and La Joya. He said in his region there are still people who do not know what a Chick-Fil-A is, but after participating in three community events before even opening Gonzalez said the restaurant has been received well.

For future events Gonzalez has what he calls a three-prong process on being a staple in the community.

First would be to provide a great product for his guests and couple it with great customer service. He wants to get to know his team members on a personal level. While he wants his employees to understand that this is their job but it can be a lot more.

He wants his employees to understand the different pathways working at Chick-Fil-A can provide such as financial assistance in the form of scholarships for college.

Finally within the community Gonzalez wants to give back. Salinas already collected books for Salinas elementary at Mission CISD and will provide a book house.

“It's here that we want to make sure that we're transforming lives,” he said. “That's how we can be really involved within the Palmhurst community.”

Chick-Fil-A is located 214 E. Mile 3 Rd.