WMU grad opens first Chick-fil-A in Kalamazoo County

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PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — The first Chick-fil-A in Kalamazoo County served up its first sandwich Thursday morning.

Chick-fil-A fans camped outside the Portage restaurant overnight for a chance at a free year supply of meals. At least 50 tents were clustered outside the new Chick-fil-A, located at the Crossroads Mall on South Westnedge Avenue.

While they waited, the restaurant’s first customers prepared thousands of meals for the Food Bank of South Central Michigan to support hungry children. They were also encouraged to join a children’s book drive as part of a free library exchange for a local youth organization.

The line was long when the restaurant opened at 6 a.m., but disappeared quickly. The restaurant manager expected traffic to pick up again around 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. Thursday.

Chick-fil-A worked with police to develop a traffic plan ahead of the opening. Portage police are expected to be on hand to direct traffic throughout Thursday; the curb lane on South Westnedge will be open to Chick-fil-A traffic only.

Recycled materials are featured throughout the nearly 5,000 square-foot Chick-fil-A. It includes a large gathering table made from reclaimed wood, subway tiles and light fixtures created out of Coca-Cola bottles and peach baskets. The restaurant also has a two-lane drive-thru and a play area for children.

Western Michigan University graduate Drees Rashid owns the new franchise, which is the third to open in West Michigan since Jan. 12. The Portage, Gaines Township and Wyoming locations created 340 jobs, according to Chick-fil-A.

Chick-fil-A says the new restaurants are part of an overall plan to open 20 new restaurants in Michigan over the next five years.

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