Forty-five years after the first Chick-fil-A® restaurant opened in an Atlanta mall, pioneering mall food courts and introducing its signature boneless-breast-of-chicken sandwich, the chain will celebrate the opening of its first stand-alone restaurant in Kingwood on Oct. 25 by giving away a free year's supply of Chick-fil-A to the first 100 adults in line grand opening morning.
Chick-fil-A's "First 100 Celebration" quickly became a hallmark of each grand opening when the chain first held the event in Arizona in 2003. More than 18 hours before the restaurant opened, the first person arrived and asked where to get in line. Since then, the chain has given away more than $16 million in free food at almost 600 grand openings. The parking lot parties attract Chick-fil-A's loyal customers who come from around the block and across the country equipped with couches, TVs, computers, tents and other gear. Even extreme weather conditions do not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants who often arrive more than 24 hours in advance.
The latest Chick-fil-A First 100 celebration will occur at 4594 Kingwood Drive where the chain will award a one-year supply of free Chick-fil-A® Meals (52 certificates) to each of the first 100 adults in line, ages 18 and older with identification - which is a total of more than $26,000 in free food. The line officially opens at 6 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 24, with the free meal cards being awarded Thursday, Oct. 25, sometime between 6 a.m. and 6:10 a.m. The restaurant will open for business immediately thereafter. If there are more than 100 people by 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24, all 100 spots will be determined by raffle. For complete rules, see http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Locations/First-100.
Kingwood's first stand-alone restaurant features the chain's latest interior and kitchen design, allowing team members to quickly serve customers who dine in, drive-through or request catered orders for larger off-site events. The restaurant's design and capacity illustrates the historic shift in consumer habits from 1967 when S. Truett Cathy opened his first Chick-fil-A restaurant inside Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta, to 2011 when the chain opened its 1,000th stand-alone restaurant with the majority of business now coming from customers on the go.
Since January, the chain has opened Greater Houston Area restaurants in Pearland, metro-Houston, Katy, Willis, and Deer Park creating almost 570 new jobs with the addition of the new location in Kingwood.
The new restaurant on Kingwood Drive is one of 96 locations the chain plans to open across the country in 2012, creating nearly 7,000 new jobs. Despite the challenging economy, Chick-fil-A continued to grow in 2011, reporting record-setting annual sales of more than $4 billion, representing a 13 percent increase over 2010 and the 44th consecutive year of sales growth since the company began in 1967. Chick-fil-A's overall growth will continue in 2012 with the projected addition of 79 stand-alone, two malls and 15 licensed locations.
"We are thrilled to follow up a very exciting 2011 where we saw the opening of our 1,000th stand-alone restaurant with continued growth across the country this year," said Dan T. Cathy, president and COO, Chick-fil-A, Inc. "Our outstanding franchised Operators and their team members provide both the freshly prepared food and excellent service on both sides of the counter that has our customers asking us to bring Chick-fil-A closer to where they live."
Founder Truett Cathy perfected his recipe for a boneless breast-of-chicken sandwich while operating the Dwarf Grill which he opened in Hapeville, Ga., in 1946. The sandwich became the signature menu item when he opened the first Chick-fil-A, and it continues to be the hallmark product of the chain as it has grown to more than 1,665 restaurants in 39 states and Washington D.C.
Zack Derelioglu will continue to extend that legacy as franchised operator of the first Kingwood restaurant. Derelioglu brings more than 11 years of Chick-fil-A experience and is transferring from the first free-standing Chick-fil-A in Orange County, California. Zack and his wife, Suzanne, have two sons, Conner and Riley. The Derelioglu family is excited to build relationships in Kingwood and serve the community.
"Chick-fil-A has come a long way since Truett opened 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 Derelioglu. "My team members and I share that same commitment at our new Kingwood restaurant and can't wait to welcome and serve our new guests."
The new Chick-fil-A at Kingwood seats 130 with additional outdoor seating, and has warm colors and wood accents and convenient, award-winning drive-thru service. The new restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., serving a full breakfast menu until 10:30 a.m.
Chick-fil-A continues to win industry accolades including coming out on top of the 2011 Top 10 Excellent Large Fast Food Chains survey by Sandelman & Associates. The food service consumer research firm measured responses from almost 108,000 quick service customers about food quality, customer service and restaurant environment. In addition, Men's Health "Eat This, Not That" 2012 edition again gave the chain high marks (A-) and named it one of the top two restaurants providing healthier menu options. In 2011, Chick-fil-A also received Consumer Reports Top Chicken Chain for food and service.
Chick-fil-A continues to rank high in QSR Magazine's annual Drive-Thru Performance Study which in 2011 was narrowed to only measure the six best, consistent brands in the drive thru. The "benchmark" brands, joined by one rotating regional chain, are measured in categories ranging from speed of service and order accuracy to customer service and cleanliness. In the 2012 study, which included more than 2,000 visits to restaurants around the country, Chick-fil-A was number one in order accuracy and had the friendliest service. The study also found Chick-fil-A team members displayed a "pleasant demeanor" 94 percent of the time, a full
14 percentage points above the next highest-rated restaurant chain.
In another study that analyzed 52 restaurants and was recently released by the research firm Technomic, Chick-fil-A was the only chain to rank in the top five of all six key categories in its 2012 Customer Restaurant Brand Metrics study. The firm polled 38,000 consumers in the categories they said mattered most - food, cleanliness, service, value, beverage and atmosphere.
To find more information on the new Kingwood Chick-fil-A visit http://www.chick-fil-a.com/kingwood or follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ChickFilAKingwood