Even the most miserable weather this city's seen in months couldn't deter hundreds of Chick-fil-A fans from queueing up outside the company first full-fledged NYC restaurant yesterday evening. The reward for 100 lucky lottery-drawing souls—all of whom had to prove they weren't homeless—was one chicken sandwich meal per week for a year. They also had to spend the entire night camped out inside the fast-food chain restaurant—but not on the sidewalk, as is the usual Chick-fil-A custom whenever a new branch is opened, thanks to the storm.
Press was barred from entering the sleepover, but at around 5 a.m. this morning everyone was kicked out into the 48-degree drizzle so that the Chick-fil-A crew could make the place presentable again for the restaurant's first full day of service. As the winners waited for the doors to reopen so they could collect their free-meal card, tales from the long night emerged: of friends made and blanket forts constructed; of relentlessly cheery staffers, of fitful (or zero) sleep, and, of course, the trials and tribulations that stem from sharing a single bathroom with so many other fried-food-eating folks.
Apparently no one witnessed or participated in any sort of debauchery overnight, though one upstairs area did reportedly become known as the "Rowdy Corner." And sadly, one man who vowed to hand over his winnings to the Trinity Place Homeless Shelter for LBGT Youth did not appear to make it past the lottery round yesterday evening, as he was nowhere to be found this morning.
At 6 a.m. the winners were allowed back inside, where they were paraded around in front of the official Chick-fil-A cameras as staff members clapped, cheered, and sang. About a half-hour later, the public was invited in as well, officially commencing the Chick-fil-A era in our great city's history.
As for the Chick-fil-A food itself... it is awful. I had planned on not eating, both because I'd rather not give money to chains and because of CEO Dan Cathy's financial support of anti-gay activities and groups. It should be noted here that everyone I spoke to who stood on line either agreed with Cathy's stance on same-sex marriage, or justified giving the company their business because they loved the chicken and thought that everyone, Cathy included, has a right to their own opinion.
But after getting kicked out of the place twice prior to the official opening, the only way I was going to be allowed to stay inside and chat with and photograph the winners was to get on line and order something. Plus, I admit I was curious about a sandwich that inspired such a fanatical following. But really, there was nothing going on with my remarkably blah Original Chicken to warrant even grudging half-admiration. And the wan-ass Waffle Fries were even more uninspired. So just say no to gay-hating chicken.