It’s a camp-out for chicken

Restaurant fans pitch tents for Maple Grove Chick-fil-A opening 

by AARON BROM

SUN PRESS Newspapers

 

Not only did brother and sister Gentry and Estelle Bain, of Edina, drive all the way to Maple Grove and camp out in a parking lot at Chick-fil-A, their father eventually joined them.

Since his children are sleeping outside in a tent for the night before the Maple Grove Chick-fil-A opening, dad Clark Bain said he might as well join them. “It’s something we’ll always remember doing together,” Clark Bain said.

So why would the Bains, or anyone else for that matter, pitch a tent on hard pavement in front of a new restaurant? Yes, they said, they really do enjoy the food and service the restaurant offers. But there is one more incentive: each of the first 100 campers gets coupons equivalent to one Chick-fil-A meal per week for a year.

Estelle Bain sits next to her home for the night, a tent outside of the Maple Grove Chick-fil-A. The restaurant chain is rewarding her and all the campers with one year’s worth of coupons. (Sun staff photo by Aaron Brom)

Estelle Bain sits next to her home for the night, a tent outside of the Maple Grove Chick-fil-A. The restaurant chain is rewarding her and all the campers with one year’s worth of coupons. (Sun staff photo by Aaron Brom)

“And they’re feeding us while we’re here!” Clark Bain said.

The Maple Grove location is one of the first two Chick-fil-A restaurants to open in the state. The other is in Coon Rapids, with two more to follow in Bloomington and Apple Valley.

For 10 years, Chick-fil-A has hosted these parking lot parties, providing security, entertainment and, of course, plenty of chicken sandwiches and more to its dedicated fans who often arrive more than 24 hours in advance prepared with TVs, computers, tents, games and other gear to make their stay more comfortable.

“We get to play all types of fun games,” Estelle Bain said, “like getting cookies from your head into your hand and passing sponges to see who’s the fastest to fill up buckets (from the sponge water).”

The openings are part of Chick-fil-A’s expansion in the state that will bring upwards of 10 locations in the next three to five years. The chain currently operates three licensed locations on the campuses of the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State University-Mankato, and at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Dad, Clark Bain of Edina joins son, Gentry, and daughter, Estelle, in camping out before the grand opening of the Maple Grove Chick-fil-A. The Maple Grove location joins Coon Rapids as being the first two Chick-fil-A restaurant locations in the state. (Sun staff photo by Aaron Brom)

Dad, Clark Bain of Edina joins son, Gentry, and daughter, Estelle, in camping out before the grand opening of the Maple Grove Chick-fil-A. The Maple Grove location joins Coon Rapids as being the first two Chick-fil-A restaurant locations in the state. (Sun staff photo by Aaron Brom)

The Bains found out about the event because the eldest Bain daughter lives in California and had camped out at a similar opening.

“We’re ready, it’s been months in the waiting,” Gentry Bain said.

Dad Clark said his visit was somewhat impromptu. “I told Estelle to bring this tent. I had no idea I’d be staying in it, too!” he said.

The Bains were joined by an array of other campers, including four college students who made the trip from Chicago, and one person who attended his 11th opening.

This year Chick-fil-A will open more restaurants than ever before with the Minneapolis locations becoming four out of 114 new restaurants the chain plans to open across the country in 2013.

 

Contact Aaron Brom at aaron.brom@ecm-inc.com

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