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Brett at the grand opening of Chick-Fil-A

Almost got lucky

16 Oct 2003


My typical routine these days is to go have lunch with Bobi. Yesterday, while I was in her office building, waiting for her to come out of her office, I started chatting with a woman standing near me who was holding some Chick-Fil-A papers. She told me that she was promoting the new restaurant which would have its grand opening on Oct 16, and she gave me this flyer. (I found out later that this woman is Joanna Flowers from Chick-Fil-A of Louisville.)

announcement of Chick Fil A grand opening

On the announcement it says that the first 100 customers through the door at the grand opening will receive 52 "free combo meal" coupons. That got me thinking. . .

I sure do like getting something for nothing.


So as I was going to bed last night, I was trying to decide: "Should I go? Will I win? What are my odds?" I knew I wasn't interested in camping out at the Chick-Fil-A, but I thought if I got up early enough, I could beat the crowd. So I set my alarm for 5:45 a.m. and told myself that I would make my final decision when the alarm went off.

And then I dreamed about this grand opening. Bob and Susan Blanchett were there in my dream, along with Tyler Cottrell. They were all ahead of me in the line to get in, and I can remember that there was no big payoff for me being there. But since it was a dream, the details are pretty fuzzy.

I woke up from that dream at 4:10 a.m. and gave the matter some more thought. Do a lot of people know about this? I scanned the TV channels and found nothing, no remote broadcasts from a big event. Then I went online and searched the Herald-Leader, searched Google, found nothing. Thought to myself, "maybe I am one of the few people who actually knows about this, and maybe I have a really good shot at being in the top 100. At the very least, I'll have something to write about on my website."

So I left my house at 4:45 and drove across town to the new Chick-Fil-A. I arrived there at 5:10.


I walked all the way around the building to find the end of the line. There were tents set up at the head of the line, just like you'd see at any big giveaway. People started camping at 9 p.m. last night, I heard.

At the back of the line, on the other side of the building by the drive-thru window, I took my place. The guy in front of me said that I was lucky to get there when I did because he heard that the count around us was 97 or 98. So I was excited that I might actually get a bunch of free food.

these college kids were among the first 100 in line
Spending an hour standing in the cold wasn't so bad because there were a ton of college kids there. Lively kids. I like their energy. Apparently I underestimated the power of cell-phone social networks. These kids had come to the restaurant to stake their spot in line and then called friends to come get in line, too.

At about 6 a.m., a few of the restaurant employees came around to pass out slips of paper. They told us to fill out the slips because if we weren't in the top 100, we'd get put into a drawing for an additional 10 prizes.

Then at 6:20, the employees returned to check IDs (since only those 18 and older were eligible) and give special admission tickets to the first 100 people. And bang, that's when I found out that I was number 103. The first 100 gained entrance to the store and had their celebration, while the rest of us waited outside (see the photo above, at the top of the page).

Stuck around for the drawing, didn't win any food prizes. Everybody got a free beanie-baby CFA cow. Whoop-de-doo!

Twas a fun little adventure, and it didn't cost me anything but sleep.

Brett and the Chick Fil A cow mascot at the grand opening

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at the new Chick-Fil-A at Hamburg Pavilion at the Columbia SC jail (in Nov 2001) snow on my house

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