By Tamas Mondovics
Filled with a variety of festive and charitable events including awarding the first 100 customers with a year supply of Chick-fil-A meals, Valrico’s first stand-alone 5,300-square-foot Chick-fil-A restaurant opened on time and as scheduled last month.
Appropriately called, First 100, Chick-fil-A’s signature event, which dates back to 2003, makes room for the first 100 local customers to camp out on restaurant’s parking lot for 24 hours leading up to grand opening.
The new restaurant brings close to 100 jobs to the community and becomes the 22nd Chick-fil-A location within a 25-mile radius of Valrico.
Chick-fil-A opened its first Florida restaurant in 1971 at Cordova Mall in Pensacola.
For days leading up to the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday morning, January 26, restaurant management and experienced staff from near and far welcomed hundreds of local residents and guests, to take part in the traditional opening festivities.
Thanks to the helping hands of the fist 100 customers who have camped out overnight awaiting their reward, events included the preparing food to treat the needy at local charities with Chick-fil-A meals as well as putting together 10,000 meals for the Feed Children Everywhere organization.
“This is my third Chick-fil-A , First 100 campout,” said USF student, Jonathan Valentine, who showed with a group of his friends to support the festive occasion. “It’s totally worth it,” he added. “It’s camping, it’s fun, it’s supporting the community and, of course, free food. That about sums it up for me.”
Owned and operated by Paul and Tammy Holmberg, the new restaurant is located at 2010 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico, and is a much-welcomed addition to the recently opened Crest Pointe Towne Plaza, anchored by the new Walmart Supercenter.
To keep the diehard Chick-fil-A fans and campers occupied during the day, restaurant owners arranged for a 30-minute Zumba Class as well as a drumming to the beat session courtesy of Drum Magic, which supplied each participant with their own drums.
The new 130 seat restaurant is just one of dozens of privately owned and operated Chick-fil-A restaurants to open this month, featuring a double drive thru, serving guests 6 a.m-10 p.m, Monday thru Saturday.
The Chick-fil-A South Brandon will traditionally remain closed on Sundays the same as all other Chick-fil-A restaurants now numbering more than 2,000 across the nation.
With attention to detail while promising the best service possible, the Holmbergs are confident of the successful launch and operation of their new restaurant which is not their first location. In fact, Chick-fil-A South Brandon will be the Holmbergs’ third restaurant in the area and, the fourth, counting the one they had owned and operated at Regency Mall in Racine, WI, in 1992.
“In 1998, we relocated and transferred ownership and opened the Chick-fil-A at Lake Brandon Village, which we currently own and operate,” Tammy, also the current Honorary Mayor of Riverview, proudly said, adding that in 2013 the two took over ownership and operations at the Westfield Mall Brandon, until December 2016.
The Holmbergs are involved in supporting many organizations, charities and schools, impacting thousands and said that the grand opening was a way to continue their commitment to the community, including the collecting of children’s books to support the Campo YMCA literacy program that Tammy helped to get started.
“My team members and I can’t wait to welcome guests to our Valrico restaurant,” Paul said. “We’re not just in the chicken business — we’re in the people business. Our goal is to provide a remarkable experience for every customer, every time, by serving food our guests can truly feel good about eating and providing sincere hospitality.”
Of course, the Holmbergs’ success is only a continuation of what was started by Chick-fil-A founder, Truett Cathy, who opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia in 1946. Cathy founded the Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, Inc. in 1967.
More familiar to most, however, is the picture of the now famous renegade cow, caught in the act in1995 with a paintbrush in mouth, painting the three words “EAT MOR CHIKIN” on a Texas billboard.
Chick-fil-A’s family owned and privately held restaurant company system sales exceeded $6 billion in 2015, which marks 48 consecutive years of sales growth. For more, please visit www.chick-fil-a.com.