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Free food lures crowd to Chicken Salad Chick opening
A line of dozens of people waits for the opening of Chicken Salad Chick on Tuesday. The business promised free chicken salad each month for a year to the first 100 people in line, though the first person will receive free chicken salad each week for a year. People started showing up Monday afternoon.

Put out some free food and, like moths to flame, college students and journalists will eventually show up.

Layne Saliba is both, which might be why he waited outside for more than 18 hours for a year’s worth of free Chicken Salad Chick.

The new business opened at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Gainesville with a promise of free chicken salad for a year, at 1 pound a month for 12 months, to the first 100 people in line.

Except for the very first person in line, who’d land a pound of chicken salad every week for 12 months – 52 pounds of free delicious freeness.

So Saliba, a native of Gainesville, parked himself by the front door of the shop at 4:15 p.m. Monday.

“I’m a college student and it’s free food,” he said with only an hour or so left in his vigil on Tuesday.

Saliba is studying journalism at the University of Georgia and works as an interning sports reporter for The Times.

His sister, Mary Kathryn Saliba, joined him at 5:30 p.m. Monday. They said they killed time reading and watching Netflix.

Behind them were Devin Probasco and Tara Lapierre, the third and fourth arrivals respectively, who got to the restaurant at about 8 p.m. Monday.

Lapierre was joined by her children, Reese and Paisley.

“The kids didn’t come here until this morning,” Tara Lapierre said, chuckling. “Their dad dropped them off.”

Lapierre and Probasco, who live in Buford, said they came out on Monday because there isn’t a Chicken Salad Chick near them — but the Gainesville location isn’t that close to Buford either.

“We can’t pass up free chicken salad,” they said of the long drive.

Neither could the dozens and dozens of other people who formed a line wrapping around the building on Tuesday. Staff of the new restaurant passed out numbers to the first 100 people in line well before the shop opened.

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