ATLANTA, June 28 /PRNewswire/ -- In 1967, the year the first
Chick-fil-A(R) restaurant opened in Atlanta's Greenbriar Mall, shopping
centers did not have "fast-food" restaurants and certainly not food courts.
Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, Inc. helped to change that trend as it became
the pioneer of in-mall fast food dining with the opening of its first
chicken restaurant in the South's first enclosed shopping center.
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Beginning July 2, Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country will be
celebrating the chain's 40th anniversary with local events and an in-store
Truett Cathy, founder and chief executive officer of Chick-fil-A, is
credited with introducing the original boneless breast of chicken sandwich
-- the original Chick-fil-A(R) Chicken Sandwich -- to the quick-service
restaurant industry. Following Cathy's opening of the first Chick-fil-A
restaurant in 1967, the chain expanded in shopping centers across the
country during the shopping center boom through the 1970s and 1980s. Now,
the company is one of the largest privately held restaurant chains --
currently with more than 1,315 restaurants in 37 states and Washington,
D.C. -- and the second- largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in
the nation, based on annual sales.
As Chick-fil-A now continues its steady momentum of growth with stand-
alone locations, its foundation as a family owned restaurant chain remains
intact. In 2006, Truett Cathy celebrated his 60th anniversary in the
restaurant business from 1946 when he opened his first restaurant, The
Dwarf Grill, in suburban Atlanta. In that same year, Chick-fil-A also
celebrated the future of the company by welcoming its third generation of
Cathy family members to the business. Two of Cathy's grandsons, Andrew
Cathy and Mark Cathy, opened their own Chick-fil-A restaurants.
While Chick-fil-A has expanded beyond Atlanta and introduced new menu
options through the years, many of its procedures and values have stayed
the same during its 40-year history. For example, the flagship menu item
remains its hero chicken sandwich. Truett Cathy spent the first few years
of the 1960s tweaking his mother's method for preparing chicken to create
the original Chick-fil-A(R) Chicken Sandwich recipe -- the same recipe
Chick-fil-A restaurants have been serving since 1967. To this day, the
all-natural chicken breast is hand-breaded for every Chick-fil-A Chicken
Sandwich; the lemonade is still freshly squeezed daily from real lemons;
biscuits are made from scratch each morning; and salad and fruit items are
prepared fresh daily using fresh produce, never frozen.
The brand's founding philosophies continue to be key contributors to
the chain's success. Chick-fil-A is almost as well known for being closed
on Sunday as it is for its food. And it has never wavered in providing the
most attentive customer service and in establishing a connection with its
customers and the communities it serves.
A focal point for Cathy's and Chick-fil-A's philanthropic efforts for
more than two decades has been the WinShape Foundation(R). The organization
features 12 foster homes that care for more than 120 foster children at a
time, boys and girls camps that accommodate 1,800 kids each summer,
marriage enrichment programs, and full scholarships to Rome, Ga.-based
Berry College, among other programs.
Chick-fil-A's dedication to the community, providing fresh, hand-made
products, and offering healthy options have not gone unnoticed by its
customers. The company achieved more than $2 billion in annual sales for
the first time in 2006, only six years after the company reached the $1
billion milestone. Chick-fil-A's business performance in 2006 marked the
39th consecutive year the chain has enjoyed a system-wide sales gain -- a
streak the chain has sustained since day one.
The company plans to surpass its 2006 record of 73 restaurant openings
by adding 90 locations this year, including 70 stand-alone restaurants,
five mall/in-line locations and 15 licensed operations (e.g. college
campuses, airports and hospitals). Much of Chick-fil-A's growth will take
place in California and Arizona, two key expansion states the chain has
aggressively focused on during the past couple of years.