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. (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070628/CLTH091 ) (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20020219/CHICKFILALOGO ) 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 point-of-purchase campaign. 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.