JENNINGS, Mo. – On a cold, rainy Tuesday, customers lined up for a hot deal on a hot meal at the grand opening of the new Kentucky Fried Chicken on Jennings Station Road.

“The first 50 people get free chicken for a year. And I’m one of them,” William Washington said.

Washington was customer number 26 of 50 to receive a “Free Chicken for a Year” card.

“She put me on game about this and I’m here for my family,” Gwenda Washington said.

Gwenda and her sister, Shanae Kyles, braved the elements to secure their shot at a year’s worth of free KFC.

“It wasn’t bad. You talk to the people, communicate, talk to people. Fellowship. It was great,” Gwenda Washington said.

For Jennings Mayor Yolanda Austin, the restaurant’s grand opening marks the end of a lot of planning and the beginning of what she hopes is something special for her community.

“It’s awesome. Exciting. We’ve been working on this project for about a year. Just to see it all come together for the community,” she said. “We have young people that we’ve provided jobs with. It’s amazing.”

Store manager Whitney Vaughn says she’s proud to help lead KPB Brands’ 15th KFC restaurant in the greater St. Louis area.

“It’s been so overwhelming. I’m just filled with joy,” she said. “My mind has been going all over the place. I’m so filled with joy right now. I just thank God to be able to be the face of the company.”

If this all seems like a small drop in the proverbial bucket of chicken, the fortunate 50 to walk away with these cards say otherwise. They consider it more than just a “finger lickin’ good” way to boost business.

“It means a lot to my family. It’s really going to help my children. It’s going to help me. Help my pockets. I’m excited,” Gwenda Washington said.

The restaurant is hiring.