Chick-fil-A had historically been identified with shopping malls, as most of its original restaurants were in their food courts.
Its first freestanding store opened in 1986; most of its new restaurants also are freestanding. As of 2011, the chain has over 800 such units. It also has over two dozen drive-through-only locations.
Chick-fil-A also can be found at universities, hospitals, and airports through licensing agreements.
The chain grew from the Dwarf Grill (later the Dwarf House, a name still used by the chain), a restaurant opened by S. Truett Cathy, who is still the company's chairman, in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville in 1946.
The company claims that its current slogan, "We Didn't Invent the Chicken, Just the Chicken Sandwich," is based on a true story: at a time when hamburgers dominated fast-food menus since the beginning, Cathy credited himself with "inventing" the chicken sandwich, which went on to become Chick-fil-A's flagship menu item (although the idea of placing chicken between two slices of bread was certainly not original).
Cathy determined that pressure cooking the chicken in peanut oil allowed for a fast serving time.
The sandwich also comes with two pickles simply because that was the only condiment he had on hand when the sandwich was created.
What is special about this restaurant chain?.....
S. Truett Cathy is a devout Southern Baptist; his spiritual beliefs are 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."
The chain invests heavily in community services (especially for children and teenagers) and scholarships.
Cathy's beliefs are also responsible for one of the chain's distinctive features:
All Chick-fil-A locations (company-owned and franchised, whether in a mall or freestanding) 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 honouring God and of directing our attention to things that mattered more than our business"
About the Founder:
S. Truett Cathy
Samuel Truett Cathy (born March 14, 1921) is the founder of Chick-fil-A, a quick service restaurant chain based in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Cathy was born in Eatonton, Georgia in 1921. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
Cathy began the chain in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville, Georgia in 1946 with a restaurant called the Dwarf Grill, named for its small size. It was there that he, along with his brother and partner, Ben, created the sandwich that later became the signature menu item for Chick-fil-A.
Cathy is a member of the First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Georgia, and also has taught Sunday School there for over 50 years.
He has testified that the Bible is his guide-book for life.
As an extension of his convictions, all of the company's locations (whether company-owned or franchised), are closed on Sundays — a rare policy within the food-service industry — to allow its employees to attend church and spend time with their families. This is a policy that began when Truett was working 6 days a week, multiple shifts. He decided to close on Sundays to relax and recharge, as well as honour God.
The policy remains intact today as the restaurants are closed on Sunday.
He is also a philanthropist, having given to numerous charitable causes, many with evangelical ties.
Cathy is also closely involved with the sponsorship of the college football bowl game now known as the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but from 1997-2005 known as the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, and prior to that simply the Peach Bowl.
On October 28, 2006 he received the last vehicle off the assembly line of Ford's Atlanta plant which symbolizes a 60-year relationship between Truett and the Ford plant. The plant had opened its doors one year after Truett opened the Dwarf Grill and Truett regularly served all three shifts. Cathy has also given extensive donations to Berry College in Rome, Georgia.
Cathy has dedicated his time and resources to many philanthropic causes, focusing on those related to the welfare of needy children. In 1984, Cathy established theWinShape Foundation, named for its mission to shape winners. In 2010, the foundation provided roughly $18 million to fund the development of foster homes and summer camp. Past donations from the WinShape Foundation include the funding of several college scholarships and marriage counselling programs. The foundation has awarded nearly 820 students of Berry College with Scholarships of up to $32,000.
In 2008, Cathy's WinShape foundation became the winner of the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic leadership which awarded it $250,000 towards future philanthropy, as a result of its contributions to society.
The prize was created to further ideals such as personal responsibility, resourcefulness, volunteerism, scholarship, individual freedom, faith in God, and helping people who help themselves.
It honours living philanthropists who have shown exemplary leadership through their charitable giving, highlights the power of philanthropy to achieve positive change, and seeks to inspire others to support charities that achieve genuine results.
Additionally, Cathy has dedicated his time and resources towards welcoming homeless children into his home and has taught in Sunday school sessions. He has fostered children for over 30 years, and has since taken in nearly 200 foster children through WinShape Homes.
WinShape Homes is a long-term foster care program that includes 14 foster homes throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.
Cathy also has a Leadership Scholarship program for Chick-fil-A restaurant employees, which has awarded more than $23 million in $1,000 scholarships in the past 35 years.
In recognition of his philanthropic efforts through WinShape, Cathy received the Children's Champion Award for Family and Community from the charitable organization Children's Hunger Fund in 2011.