By Steve Bowman Editor, The Brentwood Spirit Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chick-fil-A knows how to do a grand opening. The new Brentwood restaurant, on Eager Road just north of Dierberg’s, held its ribbon cutting on Wednesday morning with a marching band, a fire truck, a flag-raising, a book drive and free chicken for all. Some in the crowd of about 75 took selfies with the company’s cow mascot.
And that was the tame part.
The night before, more than 100 people camped out in the restaurant’s parking lot, in a long line of about 30 tents. Chick-fil-A had advertised that the first 100 people in line at 6 a.m. on Wednesday would receive “free Chick-fil-A for a year.” Seventy of them had been camping out since 6 a.m. Tuesday, when the restaurant first allowed the line to form. About 30 of them arrived before that, sometime in the darkness of Monday night and Tuesday morning. By 10 p.m. Tuesday all 100 places had been taken.
At 6 a.m. on Wednesday the first 100 were allowed to enter the restaurant and claim their prize: a gift card good for 52 free combo meals — one meal a week for a year. By the time of the ribbon cutting, three hours later, all had packed up their tents and gone home.
During the long wait, the restaurant provided several meals, restrooms, security, games and a deejay dance party. On Tuesday afternoon when a storm with lightning rolled through, the group was invited inside the restaurant to wait it out.
During the ribbon cutting the crowd was introduced to operator and franchised owner Bob Gutherz and his wife, marketing director Julie Gutherz. Both are St. Louis natives. He’s a graduate of SIU – Edwardsville, joined Chick-fil-A in 1993 and has been an operator for 14 years, most recently in the Chicago area.
Both Bob and Julie were relieved that the rain let up for the ribbon cutting.
“We actually prayed, and are happy that the rain stopped for [at least] 15 minutes,” he told the crowd.
The Brentwood restaurant employs about 85 and is the company’s 1,928th location. It is located at 8590 Eager Road, where the Romano’s Macaroni Grill stood until it closed on Dec. 29. In January the Brentwood Board of Aldermen gave Chick-fil-A the green light to locate here in a 6-2 vote.