NORWALK, Conn. — Cheers erupted and cow bells rang as dozens of customers went through the doors early Thursday for the grand opening of the new Chick-Fil-A in Norwalk.
Most of them had been waiting a long time — a line began to form 24 hours before the opening. And those in line camped out in the parking lot — for fun and for a chance to win a free meal a week for a year. (The prize went to the first 100 adults in the line at 467 Connecticut Ave.)
But it was worth the wait as a trained crew handed out breakfast to the excited fans early Thursday morning.
The restaurant is now open to the pubic from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Like all Chick-Fil-A restaurants, it is closed on Sundays.
On the first day, customers are invited to participate in a children’s book drive to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford. New and gently used books can be dropped off at the new restaurant on Thursday, Oct. 19.
The donated books will be placed in a nearly three-foot Book House, built from reclaimed wood, to serve as a free library exchange at the club.
The first two people in line were Lyle Allen and Jes Ritchie of East Norwalk.
Allen is originally from Georgia — deep in Chick-Fil-A's original territory — and was determined to be there on the first day. He and Ritchie arrived early Wednesday morning — decked out in flannel to endure the chilly morning and night ahead.
The two brought along a tent, lots of blankets and their dog King for the 24-hour wait. How'd they pass the time?
"I've been working all day," said Ritchie, gesturing to her computer. "It's a normal day at the home office, just in the home tent instead."
Chick-Fil-A staff also led games, passed out food and conducted regular checks on the line. Music blasted as the line grew. Many in line passed the time lounging, reading and napping in the afternoon sun.
The opening is the culmination of a two-year dream for owner Archer Bullock.
It was two years ago this week that Bullock, who was working at the time at the Home Depot in Danbury, went with his wife to eat at the Chick-Fil-A up the road in Brookfield.
He was so impressed by the "incredible hospitality" and the great food — "I bit into the chicken sandwich and it was just wow — that he decided to get into the Chick-Fil-A business himself.
Bullock, who was all smiles on the eve of the opening, said his goals meshed with those of Chick-Fil-A.
"It truly is a passion," said Bullock, who has hired over 100 employees. "Chick-Fil-A has a proven history of giving back, and that is something I truly believe in.
"I want to have a positive impact on our guests and our team members every day."
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