Chick-fil-A opens location in the ‘Center of the Universe’

Posted on Friday, May 31, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Chick-fil-A has journeyed to the Center of the Universe. The fast-food franchise’s newest restaurant opened Thursday on England Street.

One-hundred campers were there at 6 a.m. to welcome it, but that’s nothing new.

The parking lot of the new Chick-fil-a location in Ashland became a tent city as nearly 200 people showed up to be first in line.

The Chick-fil-A First 100 Promotion has become a staple of every Chick-fil-A opening throughout the country for the past 10 years. The first 100 adults in line win a one-year supply of free Chick-fil-A meals, given as 52 coupons for a chicken sandwich, waffle fries, and medium drink.

People are allowed to start camping out 24 hours before the opening, and about 175 people showed up to the Ashland restaurant early Wednesday morning. A raffle determined the 100 who would hang around to win a year of free food.

The tents went up, and campers enjoyed a day of games, free food, catching up on their reading, and meeting new people.

“Some of them are just taking naps and trying to stay cool, and others are enjoying all the games and festivities,” Chick-fil-A grand opening event coordinator Susan Morris said on Wednesday.

Games included relay races, team-building exercises, and water activities, and a DJ was brought in during the evening.

“Some have come from other states,” Morris noted.

The Combs family traveled from Knoxville, Tenn., to take part.

This was the sixth Chick-fil-A grand opening for Caroline Combs, though she met someone who had been to 104.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a good family atmosphere,” Combs said, noting that the event coincided with her daughter Rebecca’s birthday.

Art and Lynn Gambell and Jennifer Forrester came from Fredericksburg for their eighth grand opening, but it was their first one in which Kona Ice was available.

“We never had the snow cones before, so that was a nice little treat, especially on a day like today,” Forrester said, referring to the approximately 90-degree heat.

Art Gambell said he spent the day napping, reading, and people-watching, and Lynn Gambell added that they visited with new friends.

“It’s very friendly, very family-friendly,” she said. “You meet new friends.”

“We appreciate everything that Chick-fil-A does,” Forrester said. “They do a really good job of running this.”

“It’s a well-organized, very friendly staff, and all of the places we’ve been, always very polite, nice, courteous, helpful,” Art Gambell said.

Morris encouraged people to come out to future Chick-fil-A openings.

“We do this at every opening. It’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Chick-fil-A expects to have opened 102 new restaurants throughout the country by the end of 2013.

The Ashland restaurant creates nearly 60 jobs for the area.

The operator of the Ashland Chick-fil-A is the same man who’s been running the Virginia Center Commons locations since 1997. Howe Rice joins an elite group of Chick-fil-A operators running two standalone restaurants.

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