About 2,000 chicken-lovers visited the new Chick-fil-A at The Standard at Gainesville apartments during its grand opening Thursday and were greeted by the signature Chick-fil-A cow mascot and smiling team members.
Staff members said “my pleasure” to guests who ordered nuggets, tenders and sandwiches at the 4,000 square-foot fast-food restaurant. The staff was enthusiastic to welcome customers to the new store, said Karyna Kaufmann, the store’s operator.
“The team is having fun, the guests are super excited for us to be here, so it’s great,” she said.
Emma Bond, a UF nursing freshman, ordered a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and fries for lunch and said the excitement exuded by the Chick-fil-A staff was almost overwhelming.
“They were bombarding us with friendliness,” the 18-year-old said.
Besides a warm welcome, staff members gave out 200 to 300 stuffed animals of their cow mascot Thursday and coupons Wednesday.
Wednesday’s event on the sidewalk outside the store attracted lines of people from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Attendees walked up a 5-foot red carpet, pressed a button, and a machine printed coupons for free menu items.
Nich Rardin, a UF journalism freshman, was one of 100 people who won Chick-fil-A for a year, which counted as 52 free chicken sandwich meals, fries and a drink.
After waiting in line for 10 minutes, the 18-year-old strutted the red carpet and pressed the button.
“For a few minutes, when I felt like I was on my own red carpet getting something for free, it was exciting,” he said. “They made you feel like it was about you.”
This franchise has a few characteristics that set it apart from most other Chick-fil-As, Kaufmann said. The restaurant offers a separate space for people to pick up mobile orders, which is meant to streamline customer service and prevent congestion.
“It’s something that I wanted to be able to bring to the Gainesville community because it’s so tech-savvy,” she said.
Kaufmann discovered her love for the college atmosphere while working for Chick-fil-A when she attended the University of Central Florida. She hopes to make her newly opened franchise a staple in the lives of Gators.
“We want to be known as UF’s Chick-fil-A, and we want to continue to do a lot of things with the UF community,” she said.