Chick-fil-A campers hoping to be ‘First 100’

A crowd of 125 people hauled tents, board games, sleeping bags and toddlers to the parking lot of the new Chick-fil-A at 10515 W. 21st St. early on Wednesday morning, hoping to be among the “First 100” through the door when the restaurant opens on Thursday.

Their reward: A coupon book good for free Chick-fil-A food for a year.

The campout was part of the chain’s “First 100″ event, which it puts on every time it opens a new store. An identical event drew a crowd of 150 campers when the east-side Chick-fil-A at 7990 E. Central opened in March.

Wednesday’s crowd, which included alternates plus friends of registered campers, was made up of adults, teens and kids from both Wichita and beyond. A 2-year-old girl napped on a blanket on the sidewalk against the building while four teenage boys played a game of four-square nearby.

Four people played cards at a folding table under a tent while children navigated the parking lot tent village on their scooters. One woman identified herself as a professional Chick-fil-A camper, who drove from Oklahoma City to participate. She said this was her fourth “First 100″ camp out.

Among the campers was Bryan Aubuchon, whose 3-year-old daughter, Nicole, developed an affinity for Chick-fil-A while on vacation in Kansas City this summer. She loved the playground and the food.

“It’s all she ever talks about,” he said with a laugh. “She dances around singing, ‘Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A.’ ”

Aubuchon said he took off work for the campout. Though he planned to man the tent throughout the hot day on Wednesday, he promised Nicole she could sleep in the tent overnight.

Owner/operator Jason Lansdown was on-site wearing his Chick-fil-A necktie on Wednesday morning. He said that police officers will be stationed at the restaurant Thursday through Saturday at least to help direct traffic in and out of the restaurant, which is surrounded by hard-to-navigate road construction at 21st and Maize.

The restaurant opens at 6 a.m. Thursday. Its hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. It can be reached by calling 316-721-2697.