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Senior Maddie Dahl is a second year member and Editor in Chief of the Prowler. Dahl represents RCHS on the volleyball court during the fall and the lacrosse field in the spring. Off the field and outside...


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Fast-Food Triad v. Small Business: New Chains Open in Lexington

Stephen Wells
The construction of Chick-Fil-a adjacent to the highway and next to Dunkin’ Donuts.

In the city of Lexington, many innovations are taking place. As fast food restaurants have gained interest over the years, Lexington follows the trend by constructing a Chick-Fil-a, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Starbucks. At the moment, however, only Starbucks is open; its opening day was on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.  

Ever since Starbucks has opened, people have attracted in masses to get their morning, afternoon, and evening caffeine spike. Each day, hundreds of people pass through in the drive-thru, order inside, or pick up an online mobile order. The drive-thru can sometimes take a whopping half-an-hour, so the best bet for customers is to order ahead of time unless they plan on staying in the area for a moment or two. 

The other two fast food chains are expected to finish construction in the last two months of 2023.  With Lexington already catering two local coffee shops, Lexington Coffee Shop and Pronto, and two major chicken sellers, Kenney’s Chicken and Kentucky Fried Chicken, feelings of division arise. As more businesses come into the mix, more competition follows, which may or may not be a good thing.

Popularity of fast-food is degrading toward local businesses since they attract customers through faster availability over quality of food. Instead of relying on speed, local businesses focus on the quality of food they bring to the table. Many ensure it to be homegrown, authentic, or healthy, compared to relying on big business manufacturers like McDonalds with Tyson Chicken meat. 

As these new fast food chains emerge in the city, local businesses have to adjust properly. Meridith Benincasa, joint-owner of Pronto Gelato, is uncertain about the major impact of Starbucks on their business, although she stands by the belief of a ‘third-place’.  

“I think all of these locally owned shops and cafes try to provide a bit more personal and curated experience for their customers who, generally speaking, happen to often be neighbors and friends… if you’re looking for something a little more special, local, or that provides more of an experience, I would always encourage people to support all of their locally owned shops,” said Benincasa. 

Lexington Coffee Shop (LexCo), another locally owned coffee joint, expects little to no change in their regular business. Employee Raychul Rooney has worked there for over ten years, and she takes a positive view on Starbucks opening. 

“I think those openings are a good thing for the city and county. It will help create more jobs and more places for people to go,” said Rooney.

She considers how the downtown businesses are not impacted as much since they are farther off of the highway where most consumers swing by for quick eats. Local businesses provide for the community in a sitting-setting over quick, fast drive-thru service. 

For Kenney’s Chicken, they serve fried chicken which ropes them up into competition with the soon-to-be-open Chick-Fil-A. Effie Wallace, a joint-owner of Kenney’s, reacts to the addition in the market. 

“[The opening of Chick-Fil-A] is good for competition, makes you work harder at customer service and making sure we do a good job with food prepping and cooking,” said Wallace. 

All of the restaurants will face busy business at the start but should expect to die down as time passes. No matter the popularity for this brief blip in time, most civilians will stick with what they know and love: local businesses. 

The fast-food triad targets more travelers than actual residents of the Rockbridge County area, so local restaurants do not expect much drift in audience. Competition of chicken-sellers and coffee-makers is expected, but not the depth that one may think. As Benincasa compares appliance stores competing with Amazon, the same concept applies to local restaurants and fast-food. 

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About the Contributor
Stephen Wells
Stephen Wells, Arts & Style Editor
Senior Stephen Wells is a 3rd year reporter who avidly authors ‘film-bro’ movie reviews and edits arts and styles articles during Rockbridge’s Prowler class. Wells is attempting to make an imprint on the school’s football team. Aside from a misunderstanding of story ideas (totally acceptable to write a movie review instead of an assigned article), he is nothing short of a determined, intelligent, and dedicated writer. Due to his knowledge on many sports, from observing and participating in them, he is the perfect candidate for sports reviews too! Overall, if a person were to choose their favorite Prowler reporter, it would undoubtedly be indubitably be Wells.

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