New Chick-fil-A To Open Thursday

WEST OCEAN CITY — Before the new Chick-fil-A restaurant officially opens for business in West Ocean City next Thursday, hundreds of local residents and visitors will likely line up for a chance at a year’s worth of the chain’s famous offerings.

Chick-fil-A opened its first restaurant in an Atlanta mall in 1967 and in 2011 celebrated the opening of its 1,000th facility. Ninety-two more are expected to open in 2012, including the latest in the Sea Side Village Shopping Center along Route 50 in West Ocean City next Thursday.

“Everything is on schedule and on time for what we think will be great opening next week,” said owner and operator Ron DiVava yesterday. “We’re expecting a big crowd for our West Ocean City restaurant, and we’re planning a big celebration.”

Before the doors are unlocked and the new restaurant is officially opened for business, hundreds are expected to gather on the premises for Chick-fil-A’s traditional “First 100 Celebration,” which will award a free year’s worth of the chain’s offerings to the first 100 people waiting in line.

The tradition began in 2003 with the opening of a restaurant in Arizona. About 18 hours before the facility opened, hundreds of fans gathered and camped out overnight for a shot at the promotion armed with tents, chairs, couches, TVs, computers and other gear. Since that first event, the “First 100 Celebration” has become the hallmark for new Chick-fil-A openings.

“It can be kind of hit or miss, but my sense is this opening in West Ocean City will be as big as any others we have opened around the country,” said DiVava. “Our sense from around the community already is that there is a lot of anticipation for this opening and we’re expecting a big crowd. At some of our openings, we’ve had as many as 400 people waiting for a chance at the promotion.”

The promotion is open to the first 100 adults in line when the new Chick-fil-A opens next Thursday and each will be awarded 52 certificates representing a free year’s supply. In the event there are more than 100 eligible adults waiting when the facility opens, all 100 spots will be determined by a raffle. The line officially opens at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, June 6, and the free meal cards will be issued between 6 a.m. and 6:10 a.m. on Thursday and the restaurant will officially open shortly thereafter.

“Chick-fil-A has come a long way since that first tiny Chick-fil-A restaurant in an Atlanta mall 45 years ago, but one thing has remained constant, our focus on providing top quality food in a friendly neighborhood environment,” said DiFava “My team members and I share that same commitment at our new West Ocean City restaurant and can’t wait to welcome and serve our new guests.”