Chick-fil-A opens in East Ridge, offers free meals for one year

First 100 participants who arrive to new location will get free meals for year, participate in 'road trip'

The new East Ridge Chick-fil-A, pictured above, will open Thursday morning at 639 Camp Jordan Parkway. The 5,000-sq. ft. restaurant will employ 90 full and part-time employees and will give away free meals for a year to the first 100 participants who show up to a special "First 100 Road Trip" tour Wednesday morning at 6 a.m.

This week the new East Ridge Chick-fil-A off Interstate 75 will open with a relatively new kind of celebration for the national chain.

Instead of loyal customers camping overnight for the chance to win free Chick-fil-A for a year, the first 100 participants who arrive to the new location at 639 Camp Jordan Parkway on Wednesday beginning at 6 a.m. will receive free meals for a year and participate in a six-hour "Road Trip" through the city.

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photo Chick-fil-A organizes First 100 road trips with the opening of its new stores, allowing those who might otherwise wait in line for the opening to visit places and perform voluntary work. Up to 100 eligible participants, such as those pictured here at a recent road trip before a new Chick-fil-A opening, can earn up to a year's supply of Chick-fil-A food.

Participants who are 18 and older will complete activities at four different stops designed to make them "get up and move" and give back to the community before ending at the new restaurant for games and music, according to company officials. At the end of the tour, participants will receive an offer card with their one-year supply of food, which includes 52 meals consisting of a chicken sandwich, medium waffle potato fries and a medium drink. The restaurant's grand opening will be Thursday.

The Atlanta-based eatery has 82 locations in Tennessee, including the grand opening of the East Ridge Chick-fil-A this Thursday. The 5,000-square-foot restaurant across from Bass Pro Shops is also the eighth Chick-fil-A in the Chattanooga market, which includes Fort Oglethorpe and Cleveland, Tenn., said franchise operator Heath Kyle.

"It's a great location right here on the interstate and with this new development going in," Kyle said.

Hailed as a boon for the city of East Ridge's bottom line, the construction of the Jordan Crossing shopping center near Exit 1 with 300,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and hotels on 50 acres is subsidized through a Tennessee law meant to encourage retail development in cities just inside the state border.

Opening a Chick-fil-A in Chattanooga is a family affair for Kyle who first took over the Pell City, Ala. location in 2004. Kyle's mother has operated a Mississippi location for the past 20 years and his three siblings are also Chick-fil-A operators. There is a combined 70 years of Chick-fil-A experience between the five of them.

"My wife grew up in Chattanooga and I went to college here," Kyle said. "Eighteen years ago when I started with Chick-fil-A I knew I'd try to get a store in Chattanooga."

The restaurant's drive-through service includes dual ordering lanes and there is a separate entrance for mobile pick-up orders. The restaurant can seat 122 customers inside and 18 more on the outside patio. It will employ 90 full and part-time employees, and Kyle said he's always looking for the "right people" to add to the team.

The new location is also holding a children's book drive from now through the grand opening Thursday morning, and all new and gently used children's books will be donated to East Ridge Elementary for a 3-foot "Book House" built from reclaimed wood.

The location will be open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Chick-fil-A serves breakfast until 10:30 a.m.

Contact staff writer Allison Shirk at, @Allison_Shirk or 423-757-6651.