SOURCE: Chick-fil-A

April 06, 2005 05:00 ET

St. Petersburg Beach's First Chick-fil-A Restaurant Opening April 7; One-Year Supply of Free Food Being Awarded to First 100 in Line

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy Will Camp Out With the Crowd Outside the New Restaurant

ST. PETERSBURG, FL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 6, 2005 -- Dozens of St. Petersburg and Tampa residents are expected to camp overnight to become the first to get in line for the April 7 grand opening of St. Petersburg Beach's first free-standing Chick-fil-A restaurant, where $26,000 in free food will be given away in 15 minutes.

Voted Best Drive-Thru in America for the third consecutive year by Quick Service Restaurant magazine, Chick-fil-A will give away a one-year supply of free Chick-fil-A combo meals (52 coupons) to each of the first 100 adults, age 18 and older with identification, in line by 6 a.m., April 7, at the new restaurant located at 4623 Gulf Boulevard., St. Petersburg Beach. The restaurant will open for business at 6:30 a.m., April 7.

"We've given away more than $2 million in free Chick-fil-A food since we started the 'First 100 Fans' promotion more than a year ago. This event has attracted Chick-fil-A raving fans from across the country to camp out in all types of weather conditions to be among the first 100 in line," said Chick-fil-A, Inc. President Dan Cathy, son of the chain's founder Truett Cathy, who will spend the night outside with the crowd. "We are thrilled to find these Chick-fil-A fans all over the country and I know our customers in St. Petersburg will be equally as enthusiastic about this grand opening and will love the freshly prepared food and the 'my pleasure' customer service."

Chick-fil-A launched its First 100 Fans promotion in Oct. 2003 in Phoenix and has continued the event at every free-standing and in-line restaurant grand opening across the country. Even the most extreme weather conditions -- floods, tornado warnings, freezing rain and temperatures, 60 mile-per-hour winds -- haven't kept Chick-fil-A's raving fans away. Last year, Dan Cathy attended events at more than 75 grand openings and spent the night outside at more than 25.

In addition to camping outside the new restaurant, Cathy, a licensed pilot, will participate in an air show over the new restaurant at 10 a.m., Thursday, riding in one of two bi-planes that will take part in the show -- a preview of the Sun 'N Fun Fly-in going on that weekend.

Bill Fink, a pastry chef for more than 20 years, has been selected to operate the new Chick-fil-A restaurant in St. Pete Beach. Fink, who holds a degree in applied business for executive chefs from Cincinnati State University, has lived in the St. Petersburg area for more than 20 years. He and his wife, Debbie, have four children.

The new Chick-fil-A restaurant in St. Petersburg is the first of as many as five new restaurants the chain plans to build in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.

The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. A full breakfast menu includes the popular chicken biscuit and fresh Fruit Cup along with an expanded morning lineup that features Chick-fil-A® Chick-n-Minis™, the chain's popular bite-sized Chick-fil-A® Nuggets nestled in a warm mini yeast roll lightly coated with a honey butter spread and the Bagel Sandwich, a breakfast portion of Chick-fil-A's famous boneless breast of chicken seasoned to perfection and cooked in peanut oil is served between a slice of American cheese and folded egg on a toasted multi-grain bagel.

From Chick-fil-A's commitment to unparalleled food quality to customer service to employee loyalty, virtually every aspect of the company's operations has received major recognition from national organizations and publications. In the past year alone awards have included:

--  "Best Drive-Thru in America" for the third straight year following
    Quick Service Restaurant magazine's annual restaurant study of 25 chains
    that surveys order accuracy, menu display, speaker clarity and the speed of
    service to fill orders.
    
--  Fast Company magazine's inaugural Customers First Awards, highlighting
    Dan Cathy's leadership as a key reason the chain continues to thrive and
    grow while maintaining a close connection with its team members and
    customers. Using a panel of experts and a survey of customers, the magazine
    named Cathy and Chick-fil-A as the winner in its Customer-Centered Leader
    category.
    
--  For the 10th year out of the past 11, the Consumer Choice in Chains
    Award in the chicken category by Restaurants & Institutions, a leading food
    service industry publication which studied consumer experiences with food
    quality, menu variety, value, and service.
    
--  Topping the quick-service restaurant competition in the South, ranking
    first in J.D. Power and Associates 2004 Restaurant Satisfaction Study,
    which rated restaurants in environment, meal, service and cost. Receiving
    top ratings in two of the four categories -- meal and service.
    
Chick-fil-A's closed-on-Sunday policy also stands out as a rarity in the quick-service restaurant industry. The chain has maintained Sunday as a day off to allow employees to spend time with family and worship if they choose since Truett Cathy founded the company.

Chick-fil-A's commitment to its employees includes a Leadership Scholarship program which has been in place for more than 30 years. This year the company expects to award more than $1.1 million in scholarships to restaurant employees which will amount to more than $20 million by year-end.

Continuing its unprecedented, 37-year run of consecutive sales gains since the chain started in 1967, Chick-fil-A, Inc. reported 2004 system-wide sales of more than $1.74 billion, a 13.8 percent increase over its 2003 figures and a positive 5.2 percent same-store sales increase over the preceding year.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A is the second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain with 1,201 restaurants in 38 states and Washington, D.C. The chain expects to build more than 77 locations this year, including 60 free-standing units. For more information, visit www.chick-fil-a.com or www.chick-fil-apressroom.com.

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