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Staff file photo / Stephanie Paul, center, delivers food to the table of Emery Balthrop, right, and Maribeth Balthrop at the Chick-fil-A on Brainerd Road in Chattanooga in this 2017 file photo.

Chick-fil-A plans to open its newest Cleveland, Tennessee, restaurant next Thursday even as its existing eatery on Keith Street closes this week until mid-December for a remodel.

"It's very, very exciting," said Karen Colley, the operator of both eateries. "We're ready to serve some more chicken."

She said in a telephone interview that her newest restaurant at 1000 Paul Huff Parkway NW will employ about 120 part-time and full-time employees.

"We're still adding to the team," said Colley, who also is the operator consultant for a Chick-fil-A licensee location at Lee University.

She said the labor market is a competitive one, but Chick-fil-A offers a lot of benefits, including scholarships, as well as Sundays off.

"We have a solid base," Colley said. "We continue to recruit. I've been really fortunate and blessed to hire and select a lot of talented team members."

The new eatery will host an overnight, 12-hour camp-out party. Registration begins in the restaurant parking lot at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Up to 100 adults will receive a digital offer card with a year of Chick-fil-A meals. The card is good for 52 meals with each consisting of a chicken sandwich, medium waffle fries and a medium beverage, according to the company.

Colley said the initial investment in a restaurant is $10,000 for a franchisee. Colley arrived in Cleveland in 2015 to operate the Keith Street site, having run a Chick-fil-A restaurant at Walnut Square Mall in Dalton, Georgia, for 14 years.

The Keith Street restaurant in Cleveland serves many in-town customers while the new Paul Huff Parkway location will provide meals to Interstate-75 travelers as well, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native said.

According to the company, the new 5,000-square-foot eatery will offer a dual-lane drive-through into a single pickup point, handling upwards of 200 cars an hour.

The 100-seat dining room will hold a two-story indoor playground with free Wi-Fi along with a 20-seat outdoor patio, the company said. The restaurant's "heritage design" showcases a vintage-inspired interior with floor-to-ceiling windows and drop pendant light, according to Chick-fil-A.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A opened its first restaurant in the Chattanooga area in 1982 at Northgate Mall. The Paul Huff Parkway location is one of 120 new restaurants slated to open nationwide, creating more than 10,000 jobs, the company said.

"I'm excited to employ and provide jobs for more people and invest more in team members and for scholarships and leadership opportunities," Colley said. "We can give more back to the community."

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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