Was it worth it?
About 100 folks would say "absolutely."
That's how many people chose to stay camped out in a parking lot until Thursday morning to win 52 free meals from fast-food franchise Chick-fil-A. The company opened its Batavia location at 185 N. Randall Road this morning, Feb. 7.
Chick-fil-A kicks off every opening with a First 100 event. The first 100 people who are in line at 6 a.m. on opening day receive 52 free meal coupons. The coupons are good at any Chick-fil-A location.
In addition to the free food, participants have said they go for the camaraderie and fun of the event.
“We had a majority of them from Illinois, many from the Aurora area,” said Tiffany Simmons, a spokeswoman for the Batavia opening, via-e-mail. “We also had some drive from as far as Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.”
A total of 96 participants had been there since just before 6 a.m. Wednesday, which was the earliest they were allowed to get on the property to participate. By Wednesday evening, the crowd reached its maximum limit of 100.
Everyone in the giveaway has to sign a release and waiver Wednesday morning agreeing to the restaurant's terms. This included agreeing to stay on the property until the store officially opened at 6 a.m. Thursday.
Participants for this opening had to endure more compared to other Chick-fil-A openings in warmer seasons and climates. Temperatures were in the 30s throughout the event, and they had to spend most of that time outside. The restaurant provided heaters, and participants were able to go indoors to use the restrooms, Simmons said.
The campout was a mild affair compared to some of the openings over the past year. Chick-fil-A restaurant became the scene of protests after statements in 2012 from chief operating officer Dan Cathy supporting the traditional family and definition of marriage as being that between a man and a woman. Critics also pointed out that the company donated to organizations that were labeled as anti-gay.
Chick-fil-A has since publicly stated that it supports every person equally and have ceased donations to organizations perceived as supporting discrimination.
The Batavia Chamber of Commerce held a 9 a.m. opening day ribbon cutting at the restaurant with Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke.