Two hundred people were in line at 6am Wednesday morning for the "First 100" promotion, coming from as far from Oklahoma, writes publicist Cindi Pickett in an e-mail to JUTP. "Even the recent Sunday storms and potential for more severe weather won't deter these diehards," she adds.
110 people and their family members were selected from a raffle to stay, waiting out the next twenty-four hours in a tent city erected in the parking lot of the WesTech Village Corner shopping center. Passing motorists were stunned by the spectacle, stopping in the middle of Tech Road to admire the crowds.
"It's just so wonderful to see all these people out here," says real estate agent Cammie Reed, who lives in Calverton. (Yes, she is my mother. -ed.) "Families together playing cards and walking around, right here in our community."
Some eighty people attended a sneak preview Tuesday night, among them friends and family of employees - dubbed "team members" and parishioners of several local churches. Owner/operator Erik Amick, who moved his family from Georgia to Cloverly in March, said the people he's met here are as friendly as they were back home.
"We went to downtown Silver Spring and brought our eighteen-month-old Lydia with us to eat dinner," Amick explains, "and were really amazed by how friendly people were, coming up to us on the street and talking to us."
Chick-Fil-A's opening hasn't been without issue. When the county refused to let Amick set up a trailer outside the still-unfinished restaurant to hold job interviews, Rainbow Family Christian Center, located across the street, offered him space to use, he says. And Sunday's violent thunderstorm knocked out power to the restaurant, causing employees - dubbed "team members" - to worry that it wouldn't open on time. The lights came on at 3am Monday, just hours before a mandatory health inspection.
As there wasn't enough room on the site for a drive-through window, the store will seat 161 people inside and an additional 30 customers on an outdoor patio, making it one of the chain's largest, says owner/operator Erik Amick. The chain's first location without a drive-through, which opened in 2004, is located just six miles away on Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring.