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August 24, 2009

Legions of Fans Line Up for Grand Opening, Enter to Win Free Breakfast for One Year

(Orlando, FL)—First Watch, the daytime-only café and Orlando’s choice for "Best Breakfast" as voted by Orlando Sentinel readers, celebrated the grand opening of its newest restaurant on August 24th at 3402 Technological Ave. near the main campus of the University of Central Florida.

Though this is the Bradenton-based chain’s sixth Orlando area location, nothing about this outpost is run-of-the-mill: This restaurant marked the first time First Watch utilized a social media campaign to create a buzz online as part of its pre-opening marketing. Beginning in mid-June, First Watch launched its "Heaven Smells Like Breakfast" campaign, including a Facebook page to connect with UCF students and First Watch fans system wide, YouTube videos of cartoon breakfast foods flying through the heavens and a Twitter account where moderators frequently posted pictures and commented about the grand opening contest. The gist: Those who lined up at the new restaurant between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. on the day of the grand opening would be entered to win free breakfast for one year as well as additional prizes throughout the day. Chris Tomasso, First Watch’s chief marketing officer, knew the campaign would generate some interest but when he showed up on site before daybreak, the 100 customers camped out outside the restaurant confirmed his assumptions.

"This entire grand opening program – from building pre-opening buzz with signage, really leveraging the viral nature of social media, the soft open on July 20th and now this official grand opening celebration – resulted in a record-setting opening in terms of sales for First Watch in our 26 year history," said Tomasso. "The impact of social media is growing every day and by becoming an active player, First Watch is only going to increase its already loyal customer base." The winner of free breakfast at First Watch for a year was Orlando resident Don LeMareaux; other prizes, including First Watch gift cards and vouchers, were awarded every five minutes between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.

In addition to its new restaurant, First Watch further solidified its involvement with UCF with a $25,000 endowed scholarship to the Rosen College of Hospitality Management and by recruiting recent graduates to join the First Watch management program, where they will use the skills learned in the classroom on a daily basis.

First Watch is the largest and fastest-growing, privately owned, daytime-only restaurant chain in the United States. First Watch specializes in unique breakfast, brunch and lunch creations, all freshly prepared to order. Of its 80 restaurants in 11 states, three are franchised and four are licensed and future growth is expected to come from key multi-unit, regional franchises to experienced restaurateurs in new markets in 35 states throughout the continental U.S. Three additional company-owned restaurants are expected to open in 2009 and by the end of 2012; First Watch expects to grow to 110 restaurants, with about a dozen franchised locations open and more than 30 in various stages of development. For more information, visit www.firstwatch.com.

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