Free food draws campers to new Chick-fil-A - East Valley Tribune: News

Free food draws campers to new Chick-fil-A

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Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2009 6:35 pm | Updated: 2:50 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

People will do a lot for free food in this economy. And that includes sleeping on a sidewalk in temperatures that were in the low 60s.

People will do a lot for free food in this economy.

And that includes sleeping on a sidewalk in temperatures that were in the low 60s.

Employees at Queen Creek’s first Chick-fil-A handed out enough food to feed several Army platoons, and the people started queuing up outside the store at Ellsworth and Rittenhouse roads 24 hours before its grand opening at 6 a.m. on Thursday. That included 1,160 chicken nuggets, 600 ounces of ice cream and hundreds of soft drinks.

A horde of people hovering outside new Chick-fil-A restaurants is becoming a fairly common sight in the Valley, where the Georgia-based chain now has eight locations. Whenever the chain opens a new location, it gives out 52 free meal vouchers to the first 100 customers in line by the time it opens for business. That’s one meal for every week of the year.

The company also arranges entertainment and provides several free meals.

Brenda Green, a Chick-fil-A spokeswoman, said she’s noticed crowd sizes growing.

“I can’t quite figure out if it’s the economic downturn or if it’s the brand,” she said. “It could be the brand and what we offer … or it could just be people not working and having more free time, maybe. Or it could be people making less money but still having the desire to eat out.”

Sue James, marketing director for the company, said five or six people attended Thursday’s grand opening due to their hard circumstances.

She said she sees the situation more and more.

“It’s gone kind of from a college, fun event to an event that provides for family needs,” she said.

Susan Knutson, who slept outside the store on a cot under an umbrella, didn’t get a lot of sleep Wednesday night.

“The younger kids, they stayed up later, and then the older people, they all woke up like at 4 o’clock in the morning,” she said. “So there was like only about a two-hour gap.”

She said she’d do it again “definitely.”

“It’s kind of silly, but I just like Chick-fil-A,” she said. “That’s why I showed up.”

Knutson, who attended the grand opening with friends, said she did it strictly for fun.

“What the heck, you only live once,” she said, laughing.

Ashley Davis, the company’s West Coast supervisor, said the free food is a good way to promote the new restaurants.

“Honestly, we find it’s a great way for people to figure out where we’re located,” she said.

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