Great State: Sandwich on Us

UPDATE: Feb. 5, participating stores plan to give away a free chicken sandwich to anyone who asked between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s amazing what a person will do for a free meal, right?

At an Oklahoma City Chick-Fil-A store last week I needed a special pass.

I had to put on a goofy hat to keep my hair in place even though the Chick-Fil-A cow mascot, covered in hair, didn’t.

Local managers like to host what they call ‘backstage tours’ for customers.

The owner of this store at NW 63rd and May, Tricia Whitthorne hosts one once a month.

Guests get to watch employees squeeze lemons for lemonade, and watch to see how they prepare chicken.

I even got to make my own sandwich. Bun, pickle, breast, finished.

When I was there the place was thick with Chick-Fil-A owner/managers like Chad Gerlt.

“We like to let people behind the curtain to let them see what’s going on in our kitchen,” he says.

You might not recall specifically, but the first Chick-Fil-A in the OKC Metro opened in the Sooner Fashion Mall in 1976.

The current manager there, Phil Smith, wasn’t even born yet but he keeps the history file.

“When the mall opened we were one of the original tenants,” he says. “And we’re still there.”

Smith started his Chick-Fil-A career at age 14. So did Tricia Whitthorne.

Most of the managers here started as kids and worked their way up.

“I worked there through high school, college, and then, two years ago, we opened up this restaurant,” says Tricia.

About that time an idea struck me.

Lemons, sugar, water. Chicken, bun, pickle.

Founder Truett Cathy was onto something in 1946 when he opened the first Chick-Fil-A.

Keep the recipes simple.

Treat your employees right.

Maybe even give them a day off on Sundays. And maybe the most recent lesson, stay out of politics.

Those are recipes that hold up over time.

There are 14 Chick-Fil-A restaurants across the OKC Metro.

Another is due to open this Spring.

Feb. 5, those stores plan to give away a free chicken sandwich to anyone who asked between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.