The country remains untouristed, but is perfectly safe to visit — with lots to see for the intrepid traveler.
Alice Diamond 12:50 p.m., Oct. 22
I'm positive that the fast-food chicken outlet visited by Janet Evanovich's semi-suburban New Jersey heroines in her mystery series (Finger-Lickin' Fifteen, Sloppy Sixteen, Slobbery Seventeen, Overweight Eighteen, etc.) is Chick fil-A, skulking around under an assumed name.
But I've never eaten at Chick-fil-A. Popeye's, you betcha (it's Louisiana!). El Pollo Loco? Sure, it's nearly wholesome. But never this exotic Chick-fil-A thing. Whaddo I look like, Snooky? Fuhgeddaboudit. I gather that their claim to fame is "fresh-made fast food." And drive throughs.
They're the second-most popular chicken joint in the U.S. (you know what's first, of course, and it ain't Popeye's). When their first local branch opened, I was so curious about what all the fuss was about I tried to sweet-talk EdBed into reviewing it. Even he didn't bite, and he's a guy who has reviewed jail food and McDonald's.
Now a new branch is opening in Carmel Mountain, accompanied by a grand promo offer for people who really, really love Chick-fil-A -- to the point that they'll treat a Chick-free-A comp like it's tickets to a Rolling Stones arena show. From here, I'm going to quote directly from the press release. I cannot bring myself to attempt to rewrite it.
"As families squeeze out the last few rays of summer break, Chick-fil-A is offering them a chance to earn a year supply of Chick-fil-A for a little bit of "labor" on their part. The grand opening celebration of the new Carmel Mountain Chick-fil-A restaurant opening Sept. 1 also will include Operator Mike Weeks giving a year supply (52 meals, 1 per a week) to the first 100 in line at his new location.
"Drawing sometimes more than 150 people 24 hours prior the opening, folks come from all over to get in line at the 24-hour-prior to the opening mark. Armed with tents, sleeping bags, kiddie pools, games, etc., they hunker down for the next 24-hours in a 'tailgate' type atmosphere created by Chick-fil-A who feeds and entertains them throughout their time in the parking lot. Appropriately ushering in the holiday weekend...the award for their 'labors' is more than $26,000 in free food being given away to those first 100 in line."