About 136 people are camped out in the parking lot of the new Chick-fil-A restaurant in Santee set to open Thursday morning, and the first 100 adults in the door will win free Chick-fil-A meals for a year.
Chick-fil-A’s “First 100” event, which began as a way to celebrate the first stand-alone 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.
The new Santee restaurant at 9418 Mission Gorge Road will be the scene of the latest Chick-fil-A grand opening celebration. The first 100 adults, ages 18 and older with identification, in line when the doors open about 6 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, each will win a one-year supply of free Chick-fil-A Meals (52 coupons with each consisting of a Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, medium Waffle Potato Fries™ and a medium drink)– a total of more than $29,000 in free food.
The line officially opened at 6 a.m. Wednesday, with the free meal cards being awarded Thursday, Feb. 28, about 6 a.m. The restaurant will open for business immediately thereafter.
Chick-fil-A is hosting a parking lot party Wednesday night, providing security, entertainment, live music and, of course, plenty of Chick-fil-A to its dedicated fans who often arrive more than 24 hours in advance prepared with TVs, computers, tents, games and other gear to make their stay more comfortable. Participants are getting their exercise by jogging around the drive-thru line.
Santee’s first Chick-fil-A restaurant features the chain’s latest interior and kitchen design along with drive-thru service. The new Santee Chick-fil-A is the last of four restaurants the chain has opened in California in February. A new restaurant opened in Santa Barbara on Feb. 7. Two more locations, Ventura and Azusa, opened Feb. 21.
This year Chick-fil-A will open more restaurants than ever before. The new Chick-fil-A on Mission Gorge Road is one of 102 new restaurants the chain plans to open across the country in 2013, creating more than 6,200 new jobs, 75 of those in Santee.
The boneless breast-of-chicken sandwich, pressured cooked and served on a buttered bun with two crucial pickles was the signature menu item when the first Chick-fil-A restaurant opened in 1967 and though many other items have joined the menu over the years, it remains the centerpiece of the menu.
Franchised Chick-fil-A Operator Nathan Knecht has been selected to operate the first stand-alone restaurant in Santee. After practicing dentistry for 10 years, Knecht decided to switch careers; he met the Operator of the Sports Arena Chick-fil-A restaurant and chose to pursue the Operator opportunity. He and his wife, Sarah, along with the four children are excited to open the first Chick-fil-A restaurant inSantee.
“Our focus on freshly prepared food and personal customer service is as central to our new restaurant as it was the day Truett opened his first Chick-fil-A location,” said Knecht.
“That commitment continues for me and my team members at our new Santee location where we can’t wait to welcome and serve our guests.”
The new restaurant has outdoor seating and has warm colors and wood accents to create a welcoming environment for guests choosing indoor dining. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., serving a full breakfast menu until 10:30 a.m.
A Chick-fil-A press release contributed to this post