Apparently word has spread about the grand opening of Chick-Fil-A restaurant at 4812 Route 14 in Crystal Lake.
The "chikin" chain is scheduled to open at 8 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 9. Die-hard Chick-Fil-A fans know what that means: A First 100 Grand Opening Celebration.
The 'First 100' receive a ticket to camp out in the Chick-Fil-A parking lot for 24 hours and enjoy free meals, snacks and entertainment provided by the restaurant chain. Those with tickets are permitted to have guests.
Tomorrow, campers will awake at 5:30 a.m. and line up, single file, behind Chick-Fil-A's mascots, the cows. The cows will lead the First 100, age 18 and older, into the restaurant at 6 a.m. where each will receive gift certificates good for 52 combination meals. The coupons can be used at any Chick-Fil-A restaurant within the next year.
The value of the coupons exceeds $350, said Tiffany Greenway, a spokesperson from Chick-Fil-A's corporate office in Atlanta, Ga., who was on the scene Wednesday in Crystal Lake helping coordinate the grand opening.
"We're giving away $26,000 worth of food tomorrow," Greenway said.
The gift certificates are so valued by loyal Chick-Fil-A customers that people drove hundreds of miles to be among the First 100. Those camped out Wednesday in Crystal Lake included folks from St. Louis; Indianapolis; Eau Claire, Wis.; Chicago; and Naperville, just to name a few.
Greenway said there were 200 people waiting in the Crystal Lake location parking lot (near Menards and west of Route 31) by 6 a.m. Wednesday.
All 200 were invited to throw their names into a lottery drawing, from which 100 lucky people were picked to participate in the grand opening. Each person was assigned a number that determines his/ her place in the line tomorrow morning. Counting the ticket holders' guests, there were 178 people camped in the restaurant parking lot.
Naperville resident Heide Rewerts, who wears a Chick-Fil-A name tag that reads "Raving Fan," was at the Crystal Lake restaurant Wednesday camping with her husband and in-laws, also from Naperville.
"This is my eighth opening," said Rewerts, who grew up in Georgia. "I've been eating Mr. Cathy's food since 1961."