What would you do for a chicken sandwich? | Rock Candy

What would you do for a chicken sandwich?

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TENT CITY:  A temporary village of chicken cravers.
  • Kat Robinson
  • TENT CITY: A temporary village of chicken cravers.
What would you do for free combo meals for a year? How about spend 24 hours camped out in a parking lot?

That’s what 100 people did yesterday in the parking lot of the brand new Russellville Chick-Fil-A location. The new store, which opened this morning, is the first stand-alone in the River Valley town.

I happened to see the temporary tent city on my way to another story yesterday and about ran off the road. Of course I had to go check it out. I found Lydia Huerta, who explained to me what was going on. See, every time a Chick-Fil-A opens, the first 100 people in line when the store opens get free combo meals every week for a year. That’s 52 chicken sandwiches, waffle fries and beverages. Now, they don’t have to go once every week — they can use more than one at a time, throw a party and use them all at once, whatever. It’s worth $260 for each person who uses it.

Lydia introduced me to Tim Douglass, a Little Rock native who has worked with Chick-Fil-A since he was 15. Tim has worked in Jonesboro and in several places in Florida through a special training program that grows managers in the company. His last assignment was at Little Rock’s Park Plaza Mall location.

Now, I’m an Arkansas Tech graduate, and I noticed a good deal of Wonderboy apparel in the crowd. College students do this sort of thing, camping out for stuff. So it surprised me when Tim told me a good deal of these folks aren’t from around these parts.

“I’d say 70 percent of these people are from Russellville,” he told me. “We have people from Little Rock and Hot Springs, and I heard St. Louis, too. There are some people who drive a long way for an opening. I’ve seen it a lot of places where we’ve done openings.”

It’s pretty standard for Chick-Fil-A, but I don’t recall seeing any tents when the West Markham location opened up a few months ago. Turns out, though, that’s often the case. The day before a location opens, a line forms and if there are more than 100 people in that line 24 hours before the store opens a raffle is held to determine who those 100 people will be. Then the waiting really begins — and no one’s allowed to leave the lot of the store before the official opening time and date. You leave, you’re disqualified.

It’s all right — there are restroom facilities available inside the store, and you can bring your own tent… which is exactly what these people did. Chick-Fil-A coordinates games and music and there’s all sorts of fun going on.

Would you do it? I mean, is it worth it to you to camp out in a parking lot for more than 24 hours to receive $260 in food? It’s impressive, in a way — the very first day of business for any of these stores, they’re out $26,000. It’s a matter of opinion, I suppose.

The tents are probably all packed up now. The store is open. Wonder if it’ll cause a traffic jam like we experience every weekday at the store on Markham across from Park Plaza. Probably not — this location is on Main Street (Highway 64) just off Exit 84 on I-40.

From the ArkTimes store

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