By MELISSA HAMBRICK
About the time you were drinking your first cup of coffee this morning, 100 people were being served breakfast in bed — freshly made Chick-fil-A delivered to their parking lot campsites.
These are the die-hard fans who braved sleeping overnight in tents, sleeping bags, and folding chairs at Chick-fil-A’s newest restaurant at 5805 Nolensville Pike, rewarded for their efforts with a year’s supply of Chick-fil-A meals.
The 14-year Chick-fil-A tradition came to Nashville for the second time in a week, following the recent opening of the Spring Hill location. The First 100 celebration has given away more than $34 million in that time, which includes a card good for 52 free meals of a Chick-fil-A Sandwich, medium Waffle Potato Fries and a medium beverage.
Overnight fans, who began lining up at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, enjoyed games and music, plus free breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Tuesday, as well as a late night snack of cookies.
“You’d be surprised how elaborate their tent set ups can get,” says Barry Hooper, 32-year veteran Chick-Fil-A operator, who also owns the Brentwood location.
Hooper hired 110 people for the new store, and transferred 17 to Nolensville Pike from his Brentwood location. Employees were able to train on shifts in Brentwood, so that the popular restaurant could provide the kind of service Chick-fil-A patrons have come to expect.
Though he estimates he hears most from Chick-fil-A fans about breakfast favorite Chicken Minis, Hooper says he hears less about a specific product and more about the people who work there.
“I was able to spend time with [Chick-fil-A founder] Truett Cathy in 1982, and he knew I wanted to have my own store. He said, Make the people piece of your business your top priority. I get a lot of compliments about our employees, and I’m proud of that.”
The celebration, which includes a children’s book drive benefitting Tusculum Elementary, begins when they open for business at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 29. An official ribbon cutting ceremony takes place at 9 a.m. at 5805 Nolensville Pike, near the intersection of Nolensville Pike and Old Hickory Boulevard.
Customers are encouraged to bring a new or gently used book for donation throughout grand opening weekend.
PHOTOS provided by Lindsay Ables