So, my hubby's Chick-fil-a adventure won him more than just some free food . . . he got some 'fame' in today's paper!! hee hee -he's sooo cute!
Cook's Choice: More than 100 people line up for a chance to get free Chick-fil-A for a year
Web Posted: 05/29/2007 08:07 PM CDT
So what could lure people to camp out for up to 24 hours in a parking lot?
Earlier this month, it was $26,000 worth of free food that attracted more than 100 people to the newest Chick-fil-A restaurant, 4715 Medical Drive.
The company turns its openings into an event, giving the first 100 adults in line "free food for a year," 52 coupons for combo meals.
St. Mary's University students Joshua Cavazos and Chris Saucedo were first to arrive, pulling into the parking lot at midnight. The company's rules didn't allow them to start the line until 6 a.m.
"It was a crazy idea that we got at 11:30 p.m.," Cavazos said. He said Saucedo asked why they had to be so early. "No. 1 gets a lot of attention," Cavazos explained.
"We're college students, free food is always great. We never turn down free food!"
The line grew quickly. By 10:25 a.m. No. 83 was in place. Don Robinson, a retired naval officer, arrived on his bicycle, carrying his tent on his back. He'd been to several other openings, starting with the one on Ingram Road in 2005.
Robinson laughed as he recalled thinking "who would be a big enough fool to sit outside a restaurant for a day?" until he did the math to determine the value, 52 times $5. Not bad, he said, "Just for sitting there, and, they feed you!"
Next door, at the Washington Mutual bank, assistant manager Chris Mayfield was watching the parking lot fill. When he arrived for work at 7:45 that morning, he saw 15 tents already set up. He had considered participating, thinking he could go after work. "I had no idea there would be this many people so quickly," he said. At 10 a.m., with the line at 90, he checked with his boss and his wife, took the rest of the day off and became No. 95. Shortly after 11 a.m. the line was at 100, but kept growing as people hoped others in line would give up and leave. It proved to be a good strategy — throughout the day, several people walked away.
In addition to the prospect of moving up, Chick-fil-A offered an incentive for those with numbers over 100 to stay. For each hour in line, they got a raffle ticket for a drawing for eight more prize packages. People who didn't win those left with 10 combo meal coupons.
The rules required you to stay on the restaurant property; you couldn't leave, even to go to your car. There were roll calls at various times throughout the 24 hours. Anyone missing from the lineup was out.
After lunch (a chicken sandwich provided by the restaurant), folks started settling in. Some studied textbooks, took a nap, read or played board games or cards.
Carol Jennings, No. 26, turned the event into a family affair. Her four children, all college students, and a niece and nephew joined her. In addition to helping with a tight budget, Jennings likes the break that comes with the coupons — "All these meals that I don't have to cook."
Dinner, a chicken salad sandwich, was served at 6 p.m. The restaurant provided containers of tea and water throughout the promotion.
A DJ arrived at 8 p.m. and the fun and games began. At 8:52 p.m., another roll call. This one came with a snack, a pack of chicken nuggets. At 10:25 p.m., yet another roll call, followed by the football toss game. At 11 p.m., the DJ called it a night and the music ended.
A few minutes later it was time for the limbo competition. Two little girls, camping with their families, barely had to bend as they limboed under a rope.
After the 1:08 a.m. roll call, most people settled in their sleeping bags, chairs and tents for a few hours of sleep. A couple of guys decided to skateboard all night.
The wake-up call came at 4:40 a.m.
At 5:19, it was time to line up and put on grand opening T-shirts and paper hats. Before she left for the night, Diana Losoya announced that Chick-fil-A plans another grand opening event at a restaurant at the Rim, a shopping center at Interstate 10 north of Loop 1604 in September.
Advice on what to bring came from No. 1 Cavazos, "A tent, preferably a big one, sleeping bag, pillows, chair, sunglasses, drinks, candy, chips, TVs, DVDs, game systems — to keep us going all night."
And don't plan on sleeping, he said. "As soon as you get tired you miss the whole experience!"
Chrissie Murnin is a freelance writer who joined her son and his friends in line at Chick-fil-A. She was No. 50.
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