Early Thursday morning, more than 50 people lined up outside of Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom in downtown Chapel Hill in the hopes of winning a year of free pizza. Some people even camped out overnight.
“I think there were about a dozen people who did that,” said Chris Beckler , vice president of operations for CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, Inc., the company that owns the Chapel Hill location of the pizza place.
Old Chicago, the newest addition to the 140 West development on Franklin Street, gave away books of 12 free pizza coupons to the first 76 people in line at their grand opening celebration Thursday morning.
The 76 signifies the restaurant’s opening almost 40 years ago in 1976.
Beckler said security guards for the development had to kick the campers out around midnight, but they returned at 3 a.m.
Sarah Headley , a junior journalism and political science major and a staff writer at The Daily Tar Heel, was one of the lucky few to receive the prize, though she did not camp out.
“I got there around 9 a.m.,” she said. “I was 42 or 43.”
Headley said there were a lot of people there waiting for the grand opening to start, but the group wasn’t organized.
“There was no rhyme or reason to how it was set up,” she said.
“One of the guys in line took it upon himself to rip up a sheet of paper and write numbers one through 76 on them.”
The event also included a free-throw contest in which UNC intramural basketball players and “local celebrities” took turns shooting. For each basket scored, Old Chicago donated $76 to Farmer Foodshare , a nonprofit organization that collects extra food from farmers markets and gives it to people in need.
In the afternoon, pizza and craft beer samples were offered in exchange for a $2 donation to the organization.
Beckler estimated that nearly $2,000 was raised in total on Thursday. He said another $3,500 was raised for the organization at a friends and family event on March 8 and 9.
Beth Miller , a Farmer Foodshare volunteer who was representing her organization at the event, said the money will go a long way.
Miller said the organization donates food to local charities, like the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service’s shelters and food pantries, which distribute it to people in need.
“We need money,” she said. “It’s a way to get fresh food to people who normally can’t get fresh food.”
This is the first Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom location in the Carolinas. Beckler said his company is looking into expanding further into the Carolinas in the near future.