Chick-fil-A Forest Hill

Complete with a topiary cow out front, the new Chick-fil-A in Forest Hill will open on July 26 by giving away a free year's supply of Chick-fil-A to the first 100 adults in line grand opening morning. (PHOTO BY MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF / July 17, 2012)

Chick-fil-A will celebrate the opening of its new restaurant in Forest Hill on July 26 by giving away a free year's supply of Chick-fil-A to the first 100 adults in line grand opening morning.

Chick-fil-A's "First 100 Celebration" has become a hallmark of each grand opening since the chain first held the event in Arizona in 2003.

The latest Chick-fil-A First 100 celebration will be at 1980 Rock Spring Road, where the chain will award a one-year supply of free Chick-fil-A Meals (52 certificates) to each of the first 100 adults in line, ages 18 and older with identification - which is a total of more than $26,000 in free food.

The line officially opens at 6 a.m., Wednesday, July 25, with the free meal cards being awarded Thursday, July 26, sometime between 6 and 6:10 a.m. The restaurant will open for business immediately thereafter. If there are more than 100 people by 6 a.m. on Wednesday, July 25, all 100 spots will be determined by raffle. For complete rules, see http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Locations/First-100.

More than 18 hours before the Arizona restaurant opened the company's first big giveaway, the first person arrived and asked where to get in line. Since then, the chain says it has given away more than $16 million in free food at almost 600 grand openings.

Parking lot parties attract Chick-fil-A's loyal customers who come from around the block and across the country equipped with couches, TVs, computers, tents and other gear. Even extreme weather conditions do not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants, who often arrive more than 24 hours in advance, the company said in a news release announcing the Forest Hill restaurant's grand opening.

The stand-alone restaurant in Forest Hill features the chain's latest interior and kitchen design, allowing team members to quickly serve customers who dine in, drive-through or request catered orders for larger off-site events. The restaurant's design and capacity illustrates the historic shift in consumer habits from 1967 when Truett Cathay opened his first Chick-fil-A restaurant inside Greenbrier Mall in Atlanta to 2011 when the chain opened its 1,000th stand-alone restaurant with the majority of business now coming from customers on the go.

According to the company, the Forest Hill restaurant is one of 96 locations the chain plans to open across the country in 2012, creating nearly 7,300 new jobs. Another is planned for construction in Aberdeen, according to city planning officials.

Franchised operator Randy Eastep will relocate from the White Marsh Mall Chick-fil-A restaurant to operate the new stand-alone in Forest Hill. He began working for Chick-fil-A in high school and became an operator in 2005. Eastep is a graduate of Florida State University. He and his wife, Nichole, have two sons and are thrilled to continue the Chick-fil-A legacy by serving the Forest Hill community.

"Chick-fil-A has come a long way since Truett [Cathay] opened that first tiny Chick-fil-A restaurant in an Atlanta mall 45 years ago, but one thing has remained constant – our focus on providing top quality food in a friendly neighborhood environment," Eastep says. "My team members and I share that same commitment at our new Forest Hill restaurant and can't wait to welcome and serve our new guests."

The new Rock Spring Road Chick-fil-A seats 136 with additional outdoor seating and has warm colors and wood accents and convenient, award-winning drive-through service. The new restaurant is open Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., serving a full breakfast menu until 10:30 a.m.