More than 170 people camped outside Chick-fil-A overnight for the grand opening of its new Middleburg restaurant Friday morning.
The visitors traveled from Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania and other parts of Florida to get in line 24 hours prior to the opening of the new Chick-fil-A restaurant.
Middleburg’s first Chick-fil-A restaurant opens at 6 a.m. Friday at 1710 Blanding Blvd., bringing nearly 70 new jobs and the chance for 100 adults to win free Chick-fil-A meals for a year as the chain marks the 50th anniversary of its signature Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich.
As part of the grand opening celebration, the first 100 adults, ages 18 and older with identification, in line when the doors open about 6 a.m., each will win a one-year supply of free Chick-fil-A meals (52 coupons with each consisting of a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich, medium waffle potato fries and a medium drink) totaling more than $30,000 in free food.
The line officially opened at 6 a.m. Thursday. All 100 spots were determined by a drawing Thursday morning with those selected needing to camp out to secure their spot.
The restaurant will open for business immediately following the awarding Friday.
Over the past 10-plus years, Chick-fil-A has awarded nearly $21 million in free food at more than 750 restaurant openings throughout the country.
In addition to awarding free meals for a year, the Middleburg Chick-fil-A will be collecting school supplies, such as paper, baby wipes, tissues, crayons, markers, etc., to help “retool” a local school during the last few months of the year when supplies tend to run out. The restaurant will collect the school supplies during the hours of operation starting at 10 a.m. on March 12 through 10 p.m. on March 15.
Donations will earn each individual a card for a free Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich, limit one per a person. Those camping out also will be engaged in a competition to see who can collect the most items by engaging family and friends to donate in their name. The top collector will receive an additional prize for their efforts.
Joe Mayo, who also has served as the Operator of the Chick-fil-A restaurant at Oakleaf Town Center since 2008 has been named the Operator of the new Middleburg restaurant.
Mayo joins a small percentage of Operators to own two stand-alone Chick-fil-A locations. Prior to becoming an Operator in 2003, Mayo worked in sales and marketing for eight years with Bellsouth. He graduated from Kennesaw State University with a degree in business. He and his wife Tabitha have lived in the Middleburg/Fleming Island, Fla. area for the past 10 years and have three children.
“Our focus on freshly prepared food and personal customer service is as central to our new restaurant as it was the day Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy opened his first location,” said Mayo. “That commitment continues for me and my team members at our new Middleburg location, where we can’t wait to continue welcoming and serving our guests in the community.”
The Middleburg Chick-fil-A restaurant marks the chain’s 19th location within the Jacksonville area. The restaurant also creates approximately 70 new job opportunities for local residents.
The new 4,668 square-foot restaurant, which seats 102 indoor and eight outside, has warm colors and wood accents and offers the convenience of free Wi-Fi. Along with featuring the chain’s latest kitchen design, the restaurant includes dual drive-thru ordering lanes to expand its award-winning drive-thru service. Two drive-thru lanes will welcome motorists who will place their orders at separate screens and then merge into a single lane to pay and pick up food. With a majority of customers at Chick-fil-A stand-alone restaurants choosing drive-thru, the ability for two drivers to simultaneously order will mean quicker service.
The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., serving a full breakfast menu until 10:30 a.m.
It was 50 years ago when the first Chick-fil-A restaurant opened in 1967 and though many other selections have been added over the past five decades, the chicken sandwich remains the centerpiece of the menu as the chain has grown to more than 1,792 restaurants in 39 states and Washington D.C.