The normally deserted parking lot of the now closed Rite Aid, located at the busy intersection of Skidaway and Victory Drive was packed with cars on Wednesday, April 24. The crowd was excitedly anticipating the grand opening of Savannah’s newest free-standing Chickfil A restaurant, located at 2111 E. Victory Drive. The last free-standing Chick-fil-A opened here in the area was 10 years ago in Pooler.
Over 100 people camped out in a 24-hour span of time to win free Chick-fil- A meals for a year, or 52 coupons with each consisting of a Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, medium Waffle Potato Fries and a medium drink – a total of nearly $30,000 in free food, courtesy of the restaurant. Ann Collins the Chick-fil-A franchise owner said there were approximately 148 people to come out so the prizes were raffled off and given to the first 110 people.
She also said five states were represented on the fairly warm day; Georgia, both Carolinas, Florida, and even Alabama.
To be considered an honored guest, participants, not only had to be 18 years or older with proper identification. Participants had to arrive by 6 a.m. Wednesday morning and stay on the premises until the opening of the store the following morning. If one chose to leave, they forfeited their spot, which is why the extra 10 people were chosen. With numbers marked on the pavement in chalk, one local SCAD graduate says, “They do a roll call every now and then to see if we’re still here.”
In order to make sure their overnight guests were comfortable Chick-fil- A fed the participants breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even a snack. Participants were allowed to use the restaurants restroom facilities. Many participants brought lavish and off-the-wall items to make their overnight stay a breeze. Some participants brought flat screen TV’s, DVD players, game systems, laptops, box fans, air mattresses and much more.
The opening of the restaurant made available 70 new jobs. The public could also earn a free Chick-fil-A sandwich by donating nonperishable food items to America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia. “I believe in Chick-fil-A…servitude, leadership and mentorship are very important to the company,” says Collins. Chick-fil-A is always investing back in the business and the community. Chick-fil-A is a company that helps nurture their employees and encourages them to not just look at it as being a fast food restaurant but as a corporation in which you can grow and build upon. Chick-fil-A’s “First 100” event, which began as a way to celebrate the first freestanding Chick-fil-A in Arizona in 2003, immediately became the cornerstone of every Chick-fil-A grand opening when the first person arrived more than 18 hours the day before, wondering where to get in line. Others soon followed and by the time the restaurant opened for business the next day, more than 100 were waiting.
Humbled and surprised by the dedication of its fans, Chick-fil-A quickly implemented the “First 100” at every grand opening and in the past 10 years has given away more than $18 million in free food at almost 700 grand openings. An additional $2.5 million is slated to be given away at 102 grand openings this year.