A food frenzy will begin anew Wednesday morning in Lombard as the region's sixth Chick-fil-A restaurant prepares to open.
Chick-fil-A fans will begin lining up at 6 a.m. to be among the "First 100," a group of patrons who will receive a year's supply of weekly free meal certificates before the restaurant opens for business at 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
Those who choose to camp in the parking lot of the new restaurant at 717 E. Butterfield Road also will be in for some free food Wednesday as well as games, prizes, a dance party with a DJ and the chance to chat with Chick-fil-A employees like store operator Bob Gutherz.
The First 100 celebration brings together a variety of people who share a taste for the shop's classic chicken sandwiches and waffle fries, and Gutherz said the event is something employees look forward to.
"Depending on the weather, it's usually a lot of fun. Anything you can think of happens out there -- in a good way," Gutherz said. "It's a healthy mix of people and they bring different things to do."
Reading, tossing footballs and setting up tents, blankets and campsites help participants pass the time before receiving their free meal tickets. About 70 of the Lombard restaurant's 110 employees will be on hand midday Wednesday alone, and Chick-fil-A flies in operators from other cities to add to the festivities, Gutherz said.
Aurora, Orland Park, Schaumburg and Wheaton already have hosted First 100 parties when Chick-Fil-A opened stores in their towns.
After the free meal tickets are handed out and the tents are taken down, Lombard's newest eatery will begin selling breakfast burritos and chicken-on-biscuit sandwiches to hungry suburbanites.
"It's business as normal starting at 6:30 a.m. for any other guests who want to come in for breakfast," Gutherz said.
Getting involved with fundraisers and events through the village of Lombard and the Lombard Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be the next step for the restaurant as it becomes established in the Lilac Village.
"We'll be involved in as many community events as we can," Gutherz said.