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The Chick-fil-A planned for the Inner Harbor will open April 9, when the chain will give away free meals for a year to 100 people.

The restaurant, which will employ 75 people, is joining Shake Shack and M&T Bank in a ground floor retail expansion at 400 East Pratt Street.

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The chain's signature "First 100" opening event typically draws crowds that camp out for a chance at the prize. Chick-fil-A has given away nearly $24 million worth of free food in 11 years.

Last May, more than 200 people lined up before a Chick-fil-A opened in Canton Crossing in Canton for a chance at the free meals.

The new Inner Harbor restaurant expects to award more than $32,000 in digital cards to the first 100 customers, ages 18 and older with identification, lined up at 6 a.m. April 9. If more than 100 people show up by 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, the spots will be determined by a drawing and the winners would camp out for 24 hours.

There's one catch -- free meals will go only to those from specific zip codes near the restaurant. Check for your zip code here.

Operator Brandon Hurst had worked for Chick-fil-A for seven years, helping dozens of operators open businesses, before deciding to open his own restaurant.

The Inner Harbor location will seat 91 inside and 20 outside, offer free Wi-Fi and feature a vintage-inspired interior with light fixtures made from recycled Coca-Cola bottles and peach baskets. It's the 7th Chick-fil-A in the city and part of 88 new locations opening nationwide this year.

The first Chick-fil-A opened in 1967 in an Atlanta mall, with the signature boneless breast-of-chicken sandwich based on a recipe that founder Truett Cathy's mother used in her Atlanta boarding house.

Like all Chick-fil-A restaurants, the Inner Harbor site will be closed on Sunday.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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