months years we’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Chick-fil-A in the Bay Area near us.
Then early last year, a friend tipped us off that one was due to open in San Jose just 15 minutes from our home.
It was originally supposed to open late last year.
Then the date got bumped to spring.
And then last month.
Finally, the date appeared on the Chick-Fil-A website’s “Restaurant Openings” page with an official opening date of mid-August.
So naturally, out of curiosity, when we frequented the San Jose @First Plaza where the restaurant was being built a few weeks ago, we dropped by to see the progress.
And in the parking lot, I struck up a conversation with a fellow who turned out to be the owner-operator of the new Chick-fil-A, Will Wong!
And he very kindly invited our whole family to join him and a number of friends for a special invitation-only “Premiere Night” tonight — two days before the official grand opening on August 23! The party started at 6:30p, but we were so excited we showed up a half hour early and were among the first guests in the restaurant!
And we had a spectacular time experiencing the famous Chick-fil-A hospitality, sampling a number of items from the menu, and even getting a backstage kitchen tour. (By the way, If I sound like an enthusiastic fan of Chick-fil-A, it’s because I am. In fact, I’ve been deputized by Chick-fil-A to share the wealth. Keep reading to the bottom of the post for details!)
I brought along my camera and snapped a bunch of photos. Here are a number of the highlights from the evening:
Approaching the corner, very conspicuous (to us!) was the now displayed Chick-fil-A signage on the corner:
As we got out of the van, we saw the prominent “Opening in 2 Days’ sign hanging over the drive-thru and couldn’t help but gleefully rejoice at our imminent sneak preview:
As we were greeted enthusiastically upon our entry (again, a half-hour early — the place was packed with other ‘raving Chick-fil-A fans’ within an hour!), the kids paused to get a photo with a big Chick-fil-A plush cow!
Lois and I paused for a photo at the entrance as well. Can you tell we were excited at this point?
… after which we were courteously escorted to our table (full service for Premiere Night patrons!):
The inside of the restaurant was yet to be filled, so I shot a couple photos of the very nice interior:
You can’t see due to the contrast in lighting, but there’s outdoor seating as well in the back of the restaurant past the glass doors:
They even brought in live music – a uke & bass guitar pair that played aloha music!
Before long we were greeted by the iconic Chick-fil-A cow mascot and even got goofy with him (her?) while waiting for the party to begin:
While we waited, we also enjoyed some delicious lemonade and other drinks:
Finally, as folks started coming and and the official party begin, a number of servers started walking through the restaurant presenting samples from their menu, including stuff we’d never ordered in the past at other CFA locations.
We also learned that the majority of those working the floor tonight and the next few weeks are experienced Chick-fil-A employees who travel the country as a team to help get new locations off the ground running, and training new employees in the culture and values of Chick-fil-A hospitality. We sure experienced that. We enjoyed chatting with a number of employees hailing from Alabama, Texas, and other places around our country where they speak with a twang!
As part of the fun night, they had a raffle for a few fun promotional items. Sadly, we didn’t win, but you can hardly call us disappointed with a fantastic fun, free evening!
At one point during the Premiere Night, owner-operator Will Wong took the mic and gave a great word of welcome and thanks, expressing his desire for the restaurant to be a place that serves the community.
We also got to meet his family, including his lovely wife and beautiful 3-month-old daughter sporting a cute CFA beanie:
But wait there’s more! As a special treat, Will arranged for our family to be given a “backstage” kitchen tour to see how the food is made, from fresh ingredients. Jennifer, a marketing director @ CFA who travels the country for these openings, gave us a wonderful walk through their kitchen, telling us how their food is prepared from quality ingredients:
Here she showed us the multi-level rack that allows them to fry multiple patties at the same time in their pressure fryers:
Racks of buns for their sandwiches:
One of their pressure fryers:
In the background, a staff member working the fryer. In the foreground, their breading table where they hand bread every patty from fresh ingredients before frying them up:
The refrigerator where they store ingredients:
The freezer where their famous waffle fries are stored (and the kids got to check out the very cool temps!):
And on the way out, we got mugs and little beanie cows as a parting gift!
But wait. There’s more.
As part of the festivities (and generosity/marketing) of the new Chick-fil-A location, they gave us two envelopes each filled with 10 vouchers, each good for a free Chick-fil-A sandwich.
And as a condition of receiving these vouchers, we promised to be “ambassadors” of Chick-fil-A and to give them away to people we know who’ve never enjoyed Chick-fil-A!
So we’ve already got half of them allocated to friends we know… but now want to offer them to our faithful blog readers who would love to check out CFA for the first time!
The main condition is that they are only valid at this new location and must be used by Sep. 24, 2012.
So if you want a voucher, leave a comment, and we’ll gladly find a way to get a “Be Our Guest” card to the first ten commenters who qualify!
All in all – as if you couldn’t guess – we had a spectacular time tonight! We were blessed by the spontaneous, undeserved and generous kindness of Will Wong and the Chick-fil-A team, and look forward to seeing them be a blessing not only to tummies in the San Jose area, but as they strive to be a measurable blessing to the community around them! May the Lord bless them in their efforts to do so!