Chick-fil-A’s arrival draws crowds, overnight campers

President Donald Trump welcomes the 2018 NCAA FCS College Football Champions, The North Dakota State Bison, to the State Dining room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 4, 2019, with McDonald's and Chick-fil-A fast food. Third from left is Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., second from right is Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and third from right is North Dakota State head coach Matt Entz. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Albemarle — Chick-fil-A fever has hit Stanly County as a much-awaited franchise of the fast food restaurant opened its doors in Albemarle on March 21.

The chicken sandwich chain was welcomed to town by a crowd of hungry locals as the West Stanly High School JROTC performed a flag raising and the school chorus sang the Star-Spangled Banner. A Facebook video of this ceremony was shared 388 times and viewed over 23,000 times as of March 25.

Many of those in attendance for the first moments had camped out the entire night after Chick-fil-A offered free sandwiches for a year.

“Join us for our First 100 Camp Out! First 100 qualified participates at the Grand Opening will receive a Grand Prize of one Original Chick-fil-A Sandwich Meal per week for a year (equating to 52 meals). An overnight stay is required.”

By the evening before, Chick-fil-A said there were only about 25 spots left, meaning at least 75 were already camping out. This “First 100” event is a regular part of Chick-fil-A openings across the country.

Chick-fil-A Albemarle wasted no time in reaching out to the people of Stanly County where they worked and studied. The business “surprised and delighted” the community by giving away 1000 sandwiches in the days before the opening, including to schools and to local companies like Lowe’s, Walmart and Big Lots.

The store is a franchise that is owned and operated by Tyler Bruce. Bruce, his wife Courtney and their one-year-old son Bentley moved to Albemarle to open the restaurant after living in Kentucky in recent years. He is a North Carolina native, though, having gone to Lake Norman High School and growing up in Mooresville.

Bruce has worked for Chick-fil-A, as an owner, manager and even at their corporate headquarters, for 14 years. The previous store that Bruce owned was in the Fayette Mall food court in Lexington, Kentucky, but is appreciating being back close to home in the Tarheel state.

A post on the restaurant’s social media said that, “Tyler and his family are excited to serve the Stanly County area and be a part of this growing community.”

From the nearly universally-positive feedback online and the big crowds present for their opening week, the feeling appears to be mutual.