There’s almost nothing the Yonder family won’t do for a good burrito.
Charlotte and John Yonder Jr., both 43, of Lindale, spent the eve of their 13th wedding anniversary camped overnight on the stoop of the new Freebirds World Burrito, 5105 S. Broadway Ave.
The chain gave away 25 certificates for 52 burritos — one per week for an entire year — to the first 25 people in line for the store’s opening today.
The couple arrived Sunday about 11:30 a.m. Sunday armed with chairs, tents and games.
“I’m No. 13 (on the list),” he said. “Holy cow, that’s perfect. I meant to do that as I was going 85 down the toll road to get here.”
Yonder said he waited for the chain to make its way to Tyler for years, and the couple would have their most-memorable anniversary brunch on record.
“I’ve been eating in Freebirds since ’91, and I’ve been waiting for it to come here for 23 or 24 years — what’s waiting one more day,” he joked.
It was a test of endurance, with 31 people camping outside for the burrito redemption cards. The connoisseurs passed the time by playing games together, and although some would go home hungry, a sense of comradery was within the group. They shared food, water and supplies. Yonder even brought a film projector so they could watch movies together.
“We are making friends and enemies — Frenemies,” Mrs. Yonder said.
The burrito hopefuls said the staff was exceptional and purchased an industrial fan to help break the heat and made sure everyone was hydrated. They also provided electricity to power fans and electronics.
John Ward, 21, said he showed up as soon as his shift ended, but was too late. He came in at No. 28 on the list but worked his way up to No. 26 after two gave up.
“I study psychology at A&M, and I’m hoping some of that will help me to mess with people’s heads,” he joked. “I made no Hippocratic Oath, so I have no promises to keep. … The forecast looks sunny with a chance of burritos.”
Ward’s burrito future was uncertain, but 19-year-old Victoria Newman and 18-year-old Mallory DeBoer were solidly at the top of the list.
The friends spent not one, but two nights urban camping.
“The early bird gets the burrito,” Ms. Newman said.
The pair packed a tent and air mattress, but when it got too hot, they slept in the air-conditioned car.
They said the experience had its lows, but the best part was bonding with new people.
“(We met) all kinds of personalities,” Ms. DeBoer said. “There are all walks of life here that all love food.”