VALRICO — Now that the dust has settled and some nearby homeowners’ tempers have tempered a bit following the highly contentious March 2016 opening of the Walmart Supercenter in Crest Pointe Towne Center, owners of an upcoming newcomer on the 43.5-acre site have high hopes for a warm welcoming.

Chick-fil-A Brandon South, a 4,971 square-foot fast-food restaurant fronting Bloomingdale Avenue just east of Blowing Oak Street, will open Thursday (Jan. 26) with inside seating for 130 diners and a two-lane drive thru to accommodate grab-and-go customers.

Its 100 employees have completed their training and are ready to greet and serve patrons from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Owners Paul and Tammy Holmberg are no strangers to the Chick-fil-A business, nor are they newcomers to the greater Brandon community.

When they moved to the area in 1998 they transferred their ownership of a Chick-fil-A franchise in Racine, Wis., to a new eatery of the same name at Lake Brandon Village, which they continue to own and operate.

In 2013 they also took possession of the Chick-fil-A in Westfield Brandon mall, a business they ran until December 2016, when they turned it over to a new owner as they moved toward opening the restaurant at 2010 Bloomingdale Ave.

The decision to plant their new Chick-fil-A at that site was a no-brainer, according to Tammy Holmberg.

That’s because in recent years the couple couldn’t help but notice the huge influx of housing developments and new residents in the southeast sections of Brandon and Valrico, and even further south in Lithia.

“With all the growth and traffic in the greater Brandon area, this location makes it more convenient for our Bloomingdale area and Fishhawk customers to dine with us,” she said.

Bloomingdale Homeowners Association President George May, who knows and calls the Holmbergs “good people” for their many charitable contributions to the greater Brandon community, is excited to support them in their new endeavor.

May also happens to be a fan of Chick-fil-A’s fresh food, numerous menu items and courteous staff.

The same can’t be said about his feelings toward the center’s anchoring Walmart store.

In 2013, rumblings about a new big box store coming to the site touched off protests by angry area residents contending it would result in more traffic on Bloomingdale Avenue, then a D-rated thoroughfare, and on Lithia Pinecrest Road, already given an F rating by the county because of its congestion.

May and many others in the surrounding neighborhoods also worried it would endanger the safety of nearby Bloomingdale High School students as well as patrons of the Bloomingdale Regional Library, adjacent to the center.

Regardless, developer Redstone Investments’ Walmart project was granted approval because of earlier changes in the county’s land development code that did not require public notification.

Michael and Lily Barney, residents of the Lithia Oaks subdivision abutting the center’s northern boundary near the Walmart store, said while they vehemently opposed its opening, they have no problem in welcoming the new Chick-fil-A.

“My wife knows the owner, so I’m sure we’ll be going there,” Michael Barney said.

Lily Barney concurred.

“We’re fine with having a Chick-fil-A close by, but this whole neighborhood is concerned about what the Walmart is going to do to our property values,” she said.

In keeping with a Chick-fil-A tradition dating back to 2003, the first 100 customers from select zip codes who visit the restaurant will receive one year’s worth of weekly free meals. Some restrictions apply, including that participants must be at least 18 years old.

The Chick-fil-A restaurant joins Wendy’s as the second business to locate in one of the center’s seven outparcels.

Starbucks is expected to launch a new store in the center within the next couple of weeks, and Tijuana Flats and Mattress Firm will soon follow.

The article first appeared in