Love is in the air …

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Hugh Fisher
When romance is in the air, classy dining doesn’t have to mean “expensive food.”
The staff of Salisbury’s Chick-fil-A restaurant proved that with their third annual Valentine’s Day dinner event, held Saturday.
From 5 to 8, customers were greeted by a maitre d’ in black dress shirt with a red bow tie. Those who wished were led into a section of the dining room decorated with dark wall hanging and lit by candles on each table.
Instead of the usual self-service dining, waitstaff brought drinks and trays of food ó the trademark Chick-fil-A sandwich and waffle fries, along with drinks and desserts, on clear plates.
Patrons dined by candlelight as evening fell outside.
General manager Trisha Kehn, wearing a red gown, supervised the proceedings.
“Each year it’s gotten bigger and better,” Kehn said.
Store owner Bo Hawkins said Kehn and the staff put a lot of time and effort into preparing for Valentine’s Day, staying until 2 a.m. the night before to finish decorating.
“She and the staff have worked tirelessly as a thank-you to our customers,” Hawkins said. “It’s something different to offer a unique dining experience.”
Staff enjoyed getting into the act as well. William Allman, who wore a nametag identifying him as “Pierre,” has worked at the restaurant two years. He said his favorite part was getting to interact more with customers.
“We get to see them enjoy themselves. It’s a different experience,” he said.
Kehn has worked at Atlanta area Chick-fil-A restaurants, which have table service. She put that experience to work in training her staff.
“Everybody seems to be enjoying it,” she said as the evening wore on.
The dinner seemed to attract more families with children and adults than couples in love, but everyone seemed happy.
Mark and Nancy Gamewell of Faith brought their daughter Nancy, her cousin Olivia Wright and friends Hollie and Adalie Harrison to Chick-fil-A before heading to a movie.
“This is a family-oriented business,” Mark said. “It gives the family a little break.”
Jack Hendren and Ginny Petrea enjoyed a quiet meal and conversation together.
“We’re sweethearts,” Petrea said with a grin.
Their Valentine’s Day plans: Spend the evening watching a British comedy on television, and maybe working on a Thomas Kinkaid puzzle.
It’s the sort of thing waiter Quinn “Sebastian” Shay loves. He came to work just for the event.
“Customers come in and say ‘oh my gosh.’ They can’t believe we’d go the extra step to do this,” Shay said.