Chick-fil-A (// chik-fil-AY, a play on the American English pronunciation of fillet) is one of the largest American fast food restaurant chains and the largest whose specialty is chicken sandwiches. Its headquarters is in College Park, Georgia. Chick-fil-A was originally founded as the Dwarf Grill in 1946, changing the name to Dwarf House until rebranding as Chick-fil-A in 1967. The company operates more than 2,605 restaurants, primarily in the United States with locations in 47 states and the District of Columbia. Locations are also present in Canada and (formerly) the United Kingdom. The restaurant serves breakfast before transitioning to its lunch and dinner menu. Chick-fil-A also offers customers catered selections from its menu for special events.
A Chick-fil-A store in Morristown, Tennessee
|Founded||May 23, 1946 Hapeville, Georgia, U.S.|
|Founder||S. Truett Cathy|
|Headquarters||5200 Buffington Rd, Atlanta, Georgia, |
Number of locations
|Products||Sandwiches, chicken dishes|
|Revenue||US$10.5 billion (2018)|
Many of the company's values are influenced by the Christian religious beliefs of its late founder, S. Truett Cathy, a devout Southern Baptist. Reflecting a commitment to Sunday Sabbatarianism, all Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed for business on Sundays, as well as on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day; to honour the Western Christian liturgical season of Lent, Chick-fil-A promotes fish sandwiches in respect of abstinence from meat that characterizes that part of the Church Year. The company's varying stance often in opposition to same-sex marriage has been the subject of public controversy, though the company has begun loosening its stance on this issue.
The chain's origin can be traced to the Dwarf Grill (now the Dwarf House), a restaurant opened by S. Truett Cathy, the chain's former chairman and CEO, in 1946. The restaurant is located in Hapeville, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, and is near the location of the now-demolished Ford Motor Company Atlanta Assembly Plant, for many years a source of many of the restaurant's patrons.
In 1961, after 15 years in the fast food business, Cathy found a pressure-fryer that could cook the chicken sandwich in the same amount of time it took to cook a fast-food hamburger. Following this discovery, he registered the name Chick-fil-A, Inc. The company's trademarked slogan, "We Didn't Invent the Chicken, Just the Chicken Sandwich," refers to their flagship menu item, the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich.
The first Chick-fil-A opened in 1967, in the food court of the Greenbriar Mall, in a suburb of Atlanta.
Since 1997, the Atlanta-based company has been the title sponsor of the Peach Bowl, an annual college football bowl game played in Atlanta on New Year's Eve. Chick-fil-A also is a key sponsor of the SEC and the ACC of college athletics.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, the chain expanded by opening new locations in suburban malls' food courts. The first freestanding location was opened April 16, 1986, on North Druid Hills Road in Atlanta, Georgia, and the company began to focus more on this stand-alone type unit rather than on the food court type. Although it has expanded outward from its original geographic base, most new restaurants are located in Southern suburban areas.
In October 2015, the company opened a three-story 5,000 square feet (460 m2) restaurant in Manhattan that became the largest free-standing Chick-fil-A in the country at that time.
On December 17, 2017, Chick-fil-A broke their tradition and opened on a Sunday to prepare meals for passengers left stranded during the power outage at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and on January 13, 2019, a Chick-fil-A franchise in Mobile, Alabama opened on Sunday to honor a birthday wish of a 14-year-old boy with cerebral palsy and autism.
Chick-fil-A's business strategy involves a focus on a simple menu and on good customer service. While other fast food chains often expand their menu offerings to attempt to attract new customers, Chick-fil-A's business model is to remain focused on chicken sandwiches. The name capital A is meant to indicate that their chicken is "grade A top quality". In addition, an emphasis on customer service has allowed Chick-fil-A to consistently lead the fast food industry in customer satisfaction. These factors are seen as the reason for Chick-fil-A's growth and expansion in the United States.
Chick-fil-A retains ownership of each restaurant. Chick-fil-A selects the restaurant location and builds it. Chick-fil-A franchisees need only a $10,000 initial investment to become an operator. Each operator is handpicked and goes through a rigorous training program; the interviews plus training can take months and is not an easy process. Chick-fil-A states on their site:
"This is not the right opportunity for you if you:
- Are seeking a passive investment in a business.
- Want to sell property to Chick-fil-A, Inc.
- Are requesting that Chick-fil-A, Inc. build at a specified location.
- Are seeking multi-unit franchise opportunities."
Chick-fil-A grossed an average of $4.8 million per restaurant in 2016 (Whataburger was second with $2.7 million per restaurant).
S. Truett Cathy was a devout Southern Baptist; his religious beliefs had a major impact on the company. The company's official statement of corporate purpose says that the business exists "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A." Cathy opposed the company becoming public for religious and personal reasons.
Their website states, "The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our Restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect –regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."
The founder's beliefs are responsible for the chain's most well-known and distinctive feature: in accordance with the Christian doctrine of first-day Sabbatarianism, all Chick-fil-A locations (both corporate owned and franchised) are closed on Sundays, as well as on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Cathy states as the final step in his Five-Step recipe for Business Success "I was not so committed to financial success that I was willing to abandon my principles and priorities. One of the most visible examples of this is our decision to close on Sunday. Our decision to close on Sunday was our way of honoring God and of directing our attention to things that mattered more than our business."
In an interview with ABC News's Nightline, Truett's son Dan T. Cathy told reporter Vicki Mabrey that the company is also closed on Sundays because "by the time Sunday came, he was just worn out. And Sunday was not a big trading day, anyway, at the time. So he was closed that first Sunday and we've been closed ever since. He figured if he didn't like working on Sundays, that other people didn't either." The younger Cathy also quoted his father as saying, "I don't want to ask people to do that what I am not willing to do myself."
Chick-fil-A's Sunday closures extend to non-traditional locations. In addition to countless shopping malls and airports, a Chick-fil-A location at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta is closed on Sundays despite the fact that its main tenant, the Atlanta Falcons, plays most of their home games on Sundays. The location is open when the Falcons have a Monday night, Thursday night or Saturday home game, as well as non-Sunday home games of Atlanta United FC and other events at the stadium. The Chick-fil-A remained closed for Super Bowl LIII. On Sundays, the digital signs are flipped and concessionaire Levy Restaurants sells nonbranded food and drinks at the location.
To honour the Western Christian liturgical season of Lent, Chick-fil-A promotes fish sandwiches in respect of the fact that this part of the Church Year is associated with the Friday Fast, with many practicing Christian vegetarianism throughout all the forty days of Lent.
Plan to raise its chickens without antibiotics
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), antibiotics used in livestock, many of which are also used to treat humans, have contributed to the rise of dangerous bacteria. In December 2012, the FDA announced plans to phase out certain antibiotics in the food production industry.
In February 2014, Chick-fil-A announced plans to serve chicken raised without antibiotics in its restaurants nationwide within five years. Chick-fil-A is the first quick service restaurant to set forth a plan and commit to serving only poultry raised without antibiotics.
In 2011, food blogger and activist Vani Hari wrote a post titled "Chick-fil-A or Chemical Fil-A?" on her website, FoodBabe.com. She asserted that Chick-fil-A sandwiches contained nearly 100 ingredients, including peanut oil with TBHQ. In October 2012, Chick-fil-A invited Hari to meet with company executives at its Atlanta, GA, headquarters. In December 2013, Chick-fil-A notified Hari that it had eliminated the dye Yellow No. 5 and had reduced the sodium content in its chicken soup. The company also said that it is testing a peanut oil that does not contain TBHQ and that it would start testing sauces and dressings made without high-fructose corn syrup in 2014.
In September 1994, Chick-fil-A opened its first location outside of the United States inside a student center food court at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. This location did not perform very well and was closed within two or three years. The company returned to the province of Alberta by opening an outlet at the Calgary International Airport in Calgary in May 2014. This restaurant closed in 2019.
In July 2018, Chick-fil-A announced plans to expand within Canada by opening a new restaurant in Toronto, Ontario, in 2019. That location opened on September 6, 2019 in the Yonge and Bloor Street area with protesters criticizing the violation of animal rights and the company's "history of supporting anti-LGBTQ causes". Chick-fil-A announced that it would open two other locations in Toronto during 2019, and 12 additional stores in the Greater Toronto Area over the subsequent five years. Chick-fil-A opened its second Toronto location in Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
In August 1996, Chick-fil-A opened its first location outside of North America by building a restaurant in Durban, South Africa. A second location was opened in Johannesburg in November 1997. Since none of the South African locations were profitable, all of these locations were closed in 2001.
A Chick-fil-A operated in Edinburgh during Spring 2018. On October 10, 2019, Chick-fil-A returned to Europe, with the opening of a store at The Oracle shopping centre in Reading, UK. The store closed in March 2020 after The Oracle opted not to continue the lease of the location beyond the six-month pilot period in the face of continued protests over the chain's anti-LGBTQ stance.
In February 2019 Chick-fil-A opened a store on a 12-month pilot scheme in Aviemore, Scotland. The Store was closed in January 2020 amidst protest and controversy from locals and customers regarding the chain's former donations to charities supporting anti-LGBT rights causes.
In November 2020 it was announced the company would open a new location in Puerto Rico.
"Eat Mor Chikin" is the chain's most prominent advertising slogan, created by The Richards Group in 1995. The slogan is often seen in advertisements, featuring Holstein dairy cows that are often seen wearing (or holding) signs that (usually) read: "Eat Mor Chikin" in all capital letters. The ad campaign was temporarily halted on January 1, 2004 during a mad cow disease scare, so as not to make the chain seem insensitive or appear to be taking advantage of the scare to increase its sales. Two months later, the cows were put up again. The cows replaced the chain's old mascot, Doodles, an anthropomorphized chicken who still appears as the C on the logo.
Chick-fil-A vigorously protects its intellectual property, sending cease and desist letters to those they think have infringed on their trademarks. The corporation has successfully protested at least 30 instances of the use of an "eat more" phrase, saying that the use would cause confusion of the public, dilute the distinctiveness of their intellectual property, and diminish its value.
A 2011 letter to Vermont artist Bo Muller-Moore who screen prints T-shirts reading: "Eat More Kale" demanded that he cease printing the shirts and turn over his website. The incident drew criticism from Vermont governor Peter Shumlin, and created backlash against what he termed Chick-fil-A's "corporate bullying." On December 11, 2014, Bo Muller-Moore announced that the U.S. Patent Office granted his application to trademark his "Eat More Kale" phrase. A formal announcement of his victory took place on December 12, 2014, with Shumlin and other supporters on the Statehouse steps. His public fight drew regional and national attention, the support of Shumlin, and a team of pro-bono law students from the University of New Hampshire legal clinic.
After 22 years with The Richards Group, Chick-fil-A switched to McCann New York in 2016. Along with the cows, ads included famous people in history in a campaign called "Chicken for Breakfast. It's not as crazy as you think."
- Chick-fil-A Classic
- The Chick-fil-A Classic is a high school basketball tournament held in Columbia, South Carolina. The tournament is in its eighth year of operation and features nationally ranked players, and teams. The tournament is co-sponsored by the Greater Columbia Educational Advancement Foundation (GCEAF), which provides scholarships to high school seniors in the greater Columbia area.
- Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
- The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, first known as the Peach Bowl until 2006 and renamed Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in 2014, is a college football bowl game played each year in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game
- The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is an annual early-season college football game played at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia; before 2017, it was played at the Georgia Dome. It features two highly ranked teams, one of which has always been from the Southeastern Conference. In the 2012 season and again in the 2014 season, the event was expanded to two games. It was also two games in 2017.
- Chick-fil-A Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America
- The Chick-fil-A Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America is an annual charity motorcycle tour to raise money for, among other charities, Victory Junction, a camp for terminally ill children.
Same-sex marriage controversy
In June and July 2012, Chick-fil-A's chief operating officer Dan T. Cathy made several public statements about same-sex marriage, saying that those who "have the audacity to define what marriage is about" were "inviting God's judgment on our nation". Several prominent politicians expressed disapproval. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Chicago Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno said they hoped to block franchise expansion into their areas. The proposed bans drew criticism from liberal pundits, legal experts, and the American Civil Liberties Union. The Jim Henson Company, which had a Pajanimals kids' meal toy licensing arrangement with Chick-fil-A, said it would cease its business relationship, and donate the payment to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Chick-fil-A stopped distributing the toys, claiming that unrelated safety concerns had arisen prior to the controversy. Chick-fil-A released a statement on July 31, 2012, saying, "We are a restaurant company focused on food, service, and hospitality; our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena."
In response to the controversy, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee initiated a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day movement to counter a boycott of Chick-fil-A launched by same-sex marriage activists. The United States Federal Aviation Administration also responded to two cities that were preventing Chick-fil-A from opening in their international airport, citing "Federal requirements prohibit airport operators from excluding persons on the basis of religious creed from participating in airport activities that receive or benefit from FAA grant funding."
In April 2018, Chick-fil-A reportedly continued to donate to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which opposes gay marriage. In a November 18, 2019 interview, Chick-fil-A president Tim Tassopoulos said the company would stop donating to The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Hapeville Dwarf House
Truett Cathy opened his first restaurant, The Dwarf Grill – later renamed the Dwarf House – in Hapeville, Georgia, in 1946, and developed the pressure-cooked chicken breast sandwich there. At the original Chick-fil-A Dwarf Grill, in addition to the full-size entrances, there is also an extra small-sized front door. The original Dwarf House in Hapeville, Georgia is open 24 hours a day, six days a week, except on Sundays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The store closes at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday nights, and the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas and reopens at 6 a.m. on Monday mornings and the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas. It has a larger dine-in menu than the other Dwarf House locations as well as an animated seven dwarfs display in the back of the restaurant. It was across the street from the former Ford Motor Company factory called Atlanta Assembly.
Truett's original, full-service restaurants offer a substantial menu and provide customers a choice of table service, walk-up counter service or a drive-thru window. As of 2012, 13 Chick-fil-A Dwarf House restaurants were operating in the metro Atlanta area.
In 1996, the first Truett's Grill was opened in Morrow, Georgia. The second location opened in 2003 in McDonough, Georgia, and a third location opened in 2006 in Griffin, Georgia. Similar to the Chick-fil-A Dwarf Houses, these independently owned restaurants offer traditional, sit-down dining and expanded menu selections in a diner-themed dinner. In 2017, Chick-fil-A demolished several Dwarf House locations to replace them with Truett's Grill locations.
- Dwarf House and Truett's Grill in Griffin, Georgia
- Chick-fil-a Dwarf House entrance, Griffin, Spalding County, Georgia
- Truett's Grill, 1455 N Express Way, Griffin, Spalding County, Georgia
- Chick-fil-a Dwarf House, Griffin, Spalding County, Georgia
Based on data from 2018, the most popular (most ordered) item was the waffle fries followed by soft drinks, chicken nuggets, and the original chicken sandwich. These items should be available at every franchise location with some locations offering the full menu or close to the full menu. The full list of menu items and nutrition information can be found on Chick-fil-A's website.
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Headquarters Chick-fil-A, Inc. 5200 Buffington Road Atlanta, GA 30349-2998
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