Area residents are camping outside the Greece Chick-fil-A to win 52 free meals. Some come to win and some come for the party.
Jason Campbell of Rochester used to drive to Erie, Pennsylvania, to eat at Chick-fil-A about every other month when he was in college.
While his day trips have tapered off, his passion for the product hasn’t.
“I told my boss I need the day off,” the 25-year-old Campbell said early Wednesday morning as he registered for a chance to win free food at Rochester’s first Chick-fil-A location at 2140 W. Ridge Road in Greece .
Campbell and dozens of others brought tents to camp out for 24 hours while participating in a contest that often coincides with a Chick-fil-A opening.
Camping out for a chicken sandwich? Yep, it’s all part of the Chick-fil-A mystique.
Long lines are expected as the Greece location opens at 6:30 Thursday morning.
“Chick-fil-A is opening in Rochester, New York, and I think that’s pretty cool,” Bridget Doyle of Rochester said.
Here’s what you need to know about Rochester’s newest restaurant:
Where is Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A has thousands of restaurants across the country, but the fast-food chain recently began expanding into the New York City area and upstate. In February, Chick-fil-A opened a restaurant in Cicero, near Syracuse, and locations in Buffalo and Plattsburgh are expected by the end of 2018.
The Greece location is owned by Greece resident Alan Taylor, who formerly worked in the banking industry before landing his dream job, a franchise owner with Chick-fil-A.
Beyond serving food, Taylor said, the franchise does more. “We sell chicken but we’re in the people business.”
Alan Taylor sits down in the Democrat and Chronicle studio with reporter Meghan Finnerty to answer questions about the Chick-fil-A franchise and his ownership.(April 6, 2018)
Why the excitement
People who love Chick-fil-A have been willing for years to travel outside New York, but some were willing to camp in the cold for 24 hours.
By 5 p.m. Wednesday, 88 people had entered the parking lot campout. Chick-fil-A has a tradition of hosting “The Chick-fil-A First 100” event before a new location opens. In Greece, locals gathered for a chance to camp and win free Chick-fil-A for a year — 52 free Chick-fil-A meals (chicken sandwich, medium waffle fry and medium drink).
Taylor understands the fandom, he said. “I’m a huge, huge fan.”
Rochester Institute of Technology student Kiersten Barr is from Pennsylvania. “They’re everywhere and I’m just used to being able to go to Chick-fil-A all the time,” she said.
While the taste of Chick-fil-A is familiar, Barr is excited that one has come near RIT.
Fans say it’s not the same as other fast food chains.
“It’s not McDonald’s, it’s not Burger King. The quality of the food, I think, is a lot better,” Chad Roscoe of Gates said outside his tent. He was wearing a Chick-fil-A T-shirt under multiple layers.
If you plan to go
Chick-fil-A is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. But the line will start at 6 a.m. for the grand opening. Like all other locations, the Greece Chick-fil-A will be closed on Sundays.
Sunday closings are a longstanding tradition at Chick-fil-A. The day was set aside by founder S. Truett Cathy as a day of rest or worship if store employees choose.
The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, but breakfast stops at 10:30 a.m.
The Greece location is about 5,000 square feet and is fitted with Wi-Fi and a two-story indoor playground. Inside the store, there is seating for 124 people with outdoor patio seating for about 20 more.
Traffic and parking
Heavy crowds are expected Thursday through Saturday. The Greece Police Department has designed a traffic map to route patrons. Additionally, the town of Greece has enacted a temporary parking restriction on neighborhood streets.
The police, assisted by volunteers, plan to direct traffic and be present from about 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
People wishing to dine inside Chick-fil-A won’t be able to park in the lot right outside the business.
The police department wants patrons who plan to dine in to park across West Ridge Road in the northeast parking lot of Greece Ridge Mall. From there they will be directed to cross the street.
To plan your route: How to survive Chick-fil-A’s traffic
The Greece Chick-fil-A is also collecting children’s books.
Taylor is inviting opening-week guests to bring in a children’s book to donate, new or gently used. The book drive will benefit a local organization, according to a statement.
•In 1946, S. Truett Cathy opened a diner called The Dwarf Grill in Atlanta. In 1967 Cathy founded Chick-fil-A. The founder died in 2014.
•The family-owned chain is now located in 46 states and comprises more than 2,000 restaurants.
•According to the company website, the capitalized A stands for “grade A top quality.”
•Over the years Chick-fil-A has faced criticism for its conservative heritage and the CEO’s belief in a biblical family. In a one-on-one sit-down with USA Today in 2014, Dan Cathy was apologetic and said he would leave discussions on social issues by the wayside.
Locally, “all are welcome at Chick-fil-A Greece and we can’t wait to start serving this community, (treating) everyone that comes through those doors with honor, dignity and respect,” Taylor said.
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