Camped Out at Chick-fil-A, First 100 in the Door Get Free Meals for a Year

The parking lot is filled with tents of locals ready to win $29,000 in free food.

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

adam paul February 28, 2013 at 09:50 AM
The comment above should be taken down immediately as it clearly violates the rules and regs of posting on here.
Things I Learned February 28, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Joy Delgallego February 28, 2013 at 02:34 PM
And yet your profile picture says 'peace'.
You Know Reno February 28, 2013 at 03:54 PM
What a sad & pathetic response. Agree it should be removed.
You Know Reno February 28, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Thank you mediator for removing bad mannered comments from misinformed readers :)
Kellie Hopstein February 28, 2013 at 04:30 PM
I have never eaten at a Chick-fil-A before and wasn't going to start since the location just opened. I figured it would be extremely busy for the first several month. On my normal stop at Starbucks I was surprised to see the drive thru at Chick-fil-A was empty. I called to verify they were open and of course they are (6:30AM every day) so I stopped and got a chicken biscuit. It was very yummy, as a person who doesn't eat beef or pork I am happy they have come to Santee :)
adam paul February 28, 2013 at 07:19 PM
Right when I saw it last night I immediately hit Flag. Also that is why I posted what I did. Kellie Hopstein, that is good to know about 630am everyday and good to know that what you ordered was yummy because it now gives something else to try there.
Michael Cargill March 01, 2013 at 05:22 AM
Why did you remove my comment? You people really are bigot homophobes.
Mar Cárdenas March 01, 2013 at 06:33 AM
Dear Michael, don't be surprised if your new comment gets deleted too. I didn't see your post, so I don't have an opinion about whether or not the moderator did the right thing by deleting it. BTW, I love my gay daughter and all my LGBT friends. I'm proud to be their ally, stand on the side of love with them, and oppose anyone who tries to deny them their inalienable right to marry the persons they love.
adam paul March 01, 2013 at 06:37 AM
It was removed because it had nothing to with the story. As should the new comment. Just because people live in Santee doesn't mean they are bigoted and homophobic. Also do you even live in Santee?
adam paul March 01, 2013 at 06:38 AM
or are you just a person who trolls to cause trouble?
Mar Cárdenas March 01, 2013 at 06:59 AM
Adam, you are correct. We should stay away from generalizations, they take credibility away from those who use them. I have lived in Santee for over 20 years and I have seen how much it has changed during that time. Mostly wonderful people lived here, but there are some bad apples that give our town a bad reputation. One of those bad apples is a neighbor of mine who has vandalized my home and hurled insults at me simply because I'm Mexican. I won't be eating at this Chick-Fil-A or any other, no matter how yummy their chicken might be, just because I know that some of their profits end up supporting homophobic groups. Every dollar we spend reflects what important for us, and to me my daughter's happiness is the most valuable thing in the world. Many blessings to you.
Mar Cárdenas March 01, 2013 at 07:00 AM
Pat March 01, 2013 at 09:48 AM
@Mar Cardenas: from what I've read, Chick-Fil-A stopped giving to those groups you mentioned.
You Know Reno March 01, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Michael Cargill is just a troll under a bridge...in La Mesa. He is absolutely right, trolls are not wanted in Santee. I would call someone that makes bad mannered comments having ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the article to people he knows ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about a bigot. Back under your bridge you 4th grade name caller.


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