Line Already Forming for Chick Fil A Opening Tomorrow in Columbia Heights


A reader writes:

“730am… Are people camping out to be first customers tomorrow? Or is this line for something else?”

From a press release:

“Ten years after Chick-fil-A® opened its first licensee location in Washington, D.C., on the campus of Catholic University, the chain is continuing its expansion into the heart of D.C. The new restaurant in the DC USA Complex will open Nov. 4, bringing 100 new jobs, the chance for 100 adults to win free Chick-fil-A meals for a year and the opportunity for community members to donate books that will benefit a local community organization.

After 12 years and more than $25 million in free food given away, Chick-fil-A’s “First 100” celebration continues to be the chain’s signature grand opening event, which transforms the restaurant grounds lot into a 24-hour community friendly party as the crowd awaits the opening.

The new restaurant, located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood at 3100 14th St. N.W., will host the next First 100 event that will award more than $32,000 in free food. A digital offer card loaded with a one-year supply of free Chick-fil-A Meals will be given to each of the first 100 eligible adults, ages 18 and older with identification, in line when the doors open about 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4. If more than 100 people are onsite when the line officially opens at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, then all 100 spots will be determined by a drawing held that morning with those selected needing to camp out for 24 hours to secure their spot. This community event is open to guests who live in specific zip codes surrounding the restaurant. Interested participants may obtain a complete listing of zip codes and rules at

Chick-fil-A believes in partnering with organizations that enrich education, literacy and youth. In that spirit, DC USA Chick-fil-A Operator Jessie Chesson is collecting new children’s books at the new location in the DC USA Complex on Tuesday, Nov. 3 and Wednesday, Nov. 4 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. The books collected during the grand opening celebration will be placed in a nearly three-foot Book House and donated to a local community organization. The Book House serves as a free library exchange – allowing anyone to take a book after replacing it with one of their own. Created from old and thrown out wood, the Book House is one of several community programs made possible through the support of the Chick-fil-A Foundation (

The new D.C. Chick-fil-A is well suited for business, residential and tourist traffic. As consumer lifestyles evolve, the in-line restaurant concept allows the chain to further customize the dining experience based on a specific location where traffic is high but limited space does not allow for the traditional stand-alone concept. The new restaurant features an upgraded interior including subway tile and metals in a variety of finishes and patinas all complimented by an abundance of windows allowing in plenty of natural light. The vintage-inspired interior includes a community table made of reclaimed timber and other unique custom features such light fixtures made from recycled Coca-Cola bottles and peach baskets.

Reflecting the chain’s mission to serve freshly prepared food in greener buildings, D.C.’s new Chick-fil-A is built to LEED specifications with water and energy efficiency features, air quality control and waste diversion efforts, among other initiatives.

With 70 seats inside, customers will be able to stay connected through the restaurant’s free Wi-Fi. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., serving a full breakfast menu until 10:30 a.m. Like all Chick-fil-A restaurants, it will be closed on Sunday.

A native of the DMV area, Chesson brings 15 years of corporate marketing and communications to the Colombia Heights neighborhood. She grew up in Maryland, received a communications degree from Howard University and later obtained her MBA from George Washington University. Chesson’s interest in the chain peaked after a former coworker began working for a Maryland Chick-fil-A and encouraged her to learn more about franchising opportunities within the company. After attending an interest meeting, her pursuit of becoming an Operator and creating “once-in-a-lifetime experiences” for those in her community began. Chesson, her husband Karlton, and their daughter are looking forward to meeting and serving the D.C. area.”

87 Comment

  • Yuck. I do not understand the love this place gets. It’s mediocre fast food chicken with the (imho) worst kind of fries ever invented.

    • Clearly you have never had their milkshakes, in my opinion they have by far the best milkshakes out of any fast food chain and even most sit down establishments.

    • palisades

      Agree to disagree. I think they have the best fast food fries. And best sandwiches. And best nuggets. And best customer service

      • We can agree to disagree. I think their food is mediocre at best. I will agree that they do have excellent customer service, but it’s still not enough to make me want to eat there.

      • I mostly agree with Palisades here. The Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich is one mighty tasty sandwich.
        It’s too bad that McDonald’s took its Southern Style Chicken Sandwich — a good imitation of the Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich — off the menu. That and the opening of a Columbia Heights Chick-Fil-A location is going to make it a lot harder for me to resist the siren song of tasty Hate Chicken.

        • justinbc

          I tried the McD’s “Southern” sandwich one day while spending hours going back and forth to Home Depot. I actually thought it was better than all of the CFA sandwiches I’ve had (granted I haven’t been there in probably 5 years or more), mainly because it wasn’t soggy and limp undercooked chicken.

          • palisades

            Sounds like you prefer a more crispy version of fried chicken? I think CFA’s chicken lends itself better to a sandwich. I’ve also never had a bad apple there. Every other fast food restaurant has screwed me over at least a handful of times. Not once for CFA. It’s quite impressive.

          • justinbc

            Definitely prefer it crispy. The flavor is just fine, but that texture I cannot get past.

      • justinbc

        Fries are OK, all the chicken products are terrible.

      • let’s not forget the worst politics, though.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      I agree. It wouldn’t even make my top ten fast food chains. As far as chicken goes, I would rather have Popeye’s any day. That said, can homeless people get the cards if they wait? They would not have an address in the zip, so I guess not?

    • This is one of the three fast food places I am able to eat at right now, so although it’s not a place I would eat out every day, I’m glad to have another option for those days where I just can’t even think about cooking. Plus, I like that they usually have books rather than toys in their kids meals. And unsweetened iced tea. And the best goddamn ice in the world (everyone knows what the “good ice” is).

      • Aw! I’m sorry your food choices are so slim nowadays 🙁 but it sounds like you’ll be able to find some good antibiotic-free turkey for Thanksgiving, at least! 🙂

        • lol, it’s ok… I hate to sound so melodramatic, and tbh I rarely ate fast food before so it’s really not a big deal! I do miss being able to just go out to a restaurant, however, I have not had a choking incident since I had my reaction (and stopped eating non-antibiotic free meat), so that is a definite plus!

      • “Good ice”? I don’t understand.

        • “good ice” aka, hospital ice… the little tiny cylinders that see to make a drink instantly cold and are good for munching on.

          • I have never been to a Chick Fil A that has hospital ice. Granted, the CFA in Ballston is the only one I’ve been to in the area, but down south, Chick Fil A uses standard ice. Zaxby’s, on the other hand, does have hospital ice.

          • justinbc

            Hospital ice? I guess I’ve not eaten in enough hospital cafeterias to have any idea what this is referring to.

          • @CFAnon – there are CFAs that do not have this particular type of ice, but most that I have been to do.
            @justinbc – it’s not always in the cafeterias, but usually found on the units themselves.

      • Emmaleigh504

        The good ice is not enough to get me in, but why don’t more places have the good ice?

        • I know, right?! The machines are more expensive I believe. I worked at a place that replaced ice machines, and the good ice machines were a lot more expensive (but presented less of a choking hazard, so that’s why we got them)

          • justinbc

            Is choking on ice really that big of a problem for people?

          • I Dont Get It

            Only on here would people be going on and on about ice. 😉

          • @justinbc – for people who have recently had strokes or otherwise have disphagia, something as simple as water can cause choking. There are a lot of things that seem silly that can become choking hazards. For example, in MD, it is required that hot dogs served in a nursing home/skilled nursing home be cut lengthwise before serving; someone did actually die from choking on a hot dog.

          • justinbc

            @Anonamon, I totally believe that for people who are predispositioned to choking on things that practically anything can present a hazard. I just didn’t realize that ice was so much of a problem there were special machines designed to prevent it.

          • justinbc

            @IDGI, hey, it’s at least something NEW to discuss WRT CFA.

          • @justinbc – I’m not sure that they were specifically designed for that purpose or if it was just found later that they were better than other designs.

    • For all its pretenses, DC is a place where people welcome junk like Atlanta-style pizza. This is just a more blatant example of this.

      • What on earth is “Atlanta-style” pizza? I have never heard of such a thing!

        • Not sure, but I think Richt is hating on Mellow Mushroom. I LOVE Mellow Mushroom pizza and was very pleased when MM opened a location in D.C.

          • justinbc

            It’s certainly better than the awful, endless variations on “New York style” pizza found here.

          • Having grown-up with Italian Americans and having had the best of Chicago, NY, New Haven, et al on their home turf, I rest my case. mellow Mushroom is better than the usual Atlanta pizza (which is worse than the usual DC pizza) but hardly worth waiting for, when you have places like Pete’s or Comet.

          • I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing as Atlanta-style pizza.
            As far as pizza with a thick, puffy crust goes, I think Mellow Mushroom does it pretty well. No need to diss it as being inferior to NYC- or Chicago-style pizza; it’s just different.

      • Who would have thought that transplanted southerners and midwesterns have tastes for mediocre food?

    • Waffle fries are obviously the best kind of fries. I’m confused about why anyone thinks differently.

  • Rose’s Luxury is so last year. Better step up their game.

  • Soylent pink is made of chicken!

  • I was thinking about this yesterday and wondered how popular this will be because I was considering it. Well that pic answers my question. I’m gonna try and go this week to but this isn’t a “let me wait a week before the hype goes down” situation b/c I reckon this place is going to be packed every day.

  • Those people are actually lining up for the T-shirt guy who is giving away a free bag of weed with every purchase. Afterwards, they will take advantage of free food for a year!

  • This “First 100” promotion seems to clearly violate the DC Human Rights Act.

    DC law prohibits “deny[ing], directly or indirectly, any person the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodations” an account of, inter alia, “place of residence.” 2-1402.31.

    Yet Chick-fil-A says that “[o]nly those who reside within the specified zip codes are eligible to participate.”

  • Makes a lot more sense than lining up to be the first people to see a movie.

  • Yep, that photo sure looks like a 24 hour party. Can’t believe I missed out on the excitement…

    Also, how can they claim the store will bring 100 new jobs…? I’m sure most of those are exceedingly indirect, like claiming that they are creating transportation jobs because their store will need to get deliveries.

    • Well, I’m betting there’s like 20 people on per shift, and there might be two shifts per day over 6 days. They have a lot of people working at a CFA. More than your normal fast food joint it always seems like.

      • I agree that those are reasonable estimates but you also have to figure that many of their employees will be working more than day per week. So many of those 20 shifts will be taken by the same people.

        CFA will be open 96 hours per week; if we assume, generously, 20 people working at a time that gives us 1,920 manhours per week. Divide that by 40 hours for a full time employee* and we get 48 total jobs, about half of their estimate.

        *I know that many employees won’t be working a little less than full time but I think that’s the best way to measure it. After all, if their promise of “100 new jobs” is all people working half-time or even less, it’s not a very honest way of portraying what they are providing to the community.

  • Spending 24 hours hanging out on the sidewalk for a chance to win $250 worth of fast food? You’re not even guaranteed? Geez.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      It seems like the first 100 are guaranteed unless there were more than 100 people there at 6 a.m. this morning. The photo does not appear to show that many people, so the way it reads to me would mean the first 100 get the card.

    • I mean. If you are homeless, why not? Free chicken sandwich

    • Yeah, my time is worth way more than $10 per hour. And most of the hours will be uncomfortable and boring and kind of humiliating.

    • justinbc

      I really wonder how the math on this thing works. They say 100 people get $32,000 in free food, so that would be $320 per person. But there’s no way $320 buys you a meal every day at CFA, so presumably the “worth” part is referring to their wholesale cost? And it’s just preloaded to say you get X number of meals, regardless of retail cost?

  • I read the rules .. its ridiculous.

    You must be one of the first 100 people there to get a pass that allows you to wait for the opening. You then have to wait until opening to have the pass be accepted for the year of free food.

    Total time >24 hours. Total value $250. Not worth it. Should there be more then 100 people intiially then they will offer tickets on a lottery style.

    • justinbc

      Based on the photo there clearly was not more than 100 people there. I would think the biggest audience would be college kids, who are (often) unemployed and can sit there and study just like they would in the dorms or library, and at most would only miss a few classes if their schedule conflicted.

      • There were maybe twice as many people waiting when I went past this morning, compared to the photo above. A very diverse demographic. I expect that when I go by this evening, the line will be around the block to IHOP.

  • Why has no one yet mentioned the very best thing about CFA? The lemonade!
    It has more calories than the fries, but it’s totally worth it.

  • Pass. I would rate “CFA” below KFC, Popeye’s, Pollos Campero and a couple of random Peruvian chicken places in DC. Add to this the fact that their owners push a hate agenda is enough for me not to ever wanting to step inside.

  • This is disgusting on so many levels.

  • I am glad that another business is coming to the area. But I can’t say that I am a fan. I’ve tried Chick Fil a twice – the second time was this weekend. I want to like it but I have not been impressed. The variety of sauces is good and I liked the waffle fries. But I think McD’s grilled chicken sandwich is tastier.

  • Oh great – another crappy restaurant choice in Columbia Heights. What I wouldn’t give for a decent Indian, Chinese, Ethiopian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Greek, Thai, Mexican, or even Italian restaurant (yes, I know we have a Mexican restaurant, but I said a “decent” Mexican restaurant). As the line (you gotta be kidding!) demonstrates, people in DC will eat anything…

    And I agree with the other posters who said CFA’s soggy waffle fries are terrible. Give me crispy crinkle-cut fries or give me death!

  • This city is too close to the South.

Comments are closed.