The first Chick-fil-A at 2740 Route 34 in Oswego is set to open at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday.
To celebrate its opening, the restaurant is giving away free chicken for a year to the first 100 people in line.
The “First 100 Celebration” has become a hallmark of each grand opening, all starting when an individual in 2003 came to an Arizona Chick-fil-A 18 hours before it opened and asked where to get in line.
Since then, the chain has given away more than $16 million in free food at almost 600 grand openings.
Oswego residents wanting a chance at free chicken started lining up at the Chick-fil-A at 6 a.m. on Wednesday. Free meal cards will be awarded the Thursday morning around 6 a.m. If there are more than 100 people in line by 6 a.m. on Wednesday, spots will be determined by raffle.
“You pretty much just have to stay in line,” said Village President Brian LeClercq, who has been in conversation with Oswego Chick-fil-A owner Nolan Hatley. “They will feed you breakfast, lunch and dinner while in line and there will be a band playing later as well.” Chick-fil-A’s bathroom will also be available.
Oswego Police Chief Dwight A. Baird said there will be a police presence at the restaurant as well to make sure everyone is safe during the evening and overnight hours.
“There are some traffic concerns,” said Baird, of getting people in and out of the parking lot. He said the Oswego Police would be keeping an eye on things and Chick-fil-A would also have people to help direct traffic.
“I look forward to having another viable business in Oswego,” said LeClercq.
Chick-fil-A though has received some backlash over statements from its president Dan Cathy, who said he was guilty as charged" in support of the "biblical definition of the family unit," according to the AP.
Oswego High School graduate Becky Gipson is organizing a peaceful protest against Chick-fil-A opening in Oswego.
“We’re going to be there to show others how Chick-fil-A donates money to organizations that are fighting equality,” said Gipson. “I don’t want this to be about religion.”
The event is being promoted on Facebook and Gipson says there could be upwards of 100 people turning out to protest. The group will be standing on the public parkway and will be holding signs.
“We will not be approaching anyone, we will not be yelling,” said Gipson. “If someone approaches us we will talk to them and debate, but we will not be approaching anyone at the restaurant.”
The official ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled at 9 a.m. on Thursday.