WARNER ROBINS — A small tent city sprang up in the parking lot along Ga. 96 Wednesday morning. With temperatures near freezing and the wind blowing, the more than 130 people who camped out for a chance at free sandwiches for a year were bundled up.
A new Chick-fil-A opened today near the intersection of Ga. 96 and Houston Lake Road in Houston County. The spots available for the first 100 in line to win 52 coupons for free sandwiches were raffled out at 6 a.m. Wednesday, but those 100 had to remain at the location until the restaurant opened — a full 24 hours. There were markers on the perimeter of the property that ticket holders were not allowed to cross without forfeiting their tickets.
Inside, employees received last-minute training, and the marketing department set up games for the campers.
Some stayed inside their tents for warmth. Others sat in circles talking like old friends. Four friends from the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta threw a football.
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The team of four left behind girlfriends, wives and children to travel to Warner Robins late Tuesday night. They stayed in the basement of a friend’s mother’s house. They had never met her before, but the group figured that staying at a stranger’s house was better than getting up at 3 a.m. and driving from Atlanta.
Carson Foushee seemed to be the leader of the group. His friends said they just came along because Foushee invited them.
“We had friends do this in college,” Foushee said. “I never had the time and a location close enough to do this.”
They also agreed that if there were more than 100 people in line and only one person got a ticket, they would leave. However, three of the four got it.
That left Trey Sullivan to pitch two tents almost at the door of the building.
“I wanted to be close to the microphone when they said ‘free biscuits,’’’ Sullivan said.
During their adventure they met a few of their fellow tent city residents, including Brian and Emily Fieg and her brother Andrew Davenport.
The Fiegs have a history with Chick-fil-A grand openings. They first met at one March 6, 2008, in Acworth. The couple, who are from Smyrna, married Jan. 3, 2009.
During the event in Acworth, Emily Fieg, then Davenport, came to the grand opening with her brother. Brian Fieg came with his sister. The two pairs of siblings ended up being next to each other when they set up their tents.
During the course of the event, they hung out, played board games together and found they were both jobless.
Before they were even engaged, Brian Fieg landed a job, and soon after Emily Fieg was hired at the same company. They joked that they have been working together longer than they have been married. At their wedding, they had two cows dressed up as a bride and groom to symbolize where they met.
“It’s kind of our thing,” Emily Fieg said with a laugh.
To contact Angela Woolen, call 923-5650.