Chick-fil-A is set to become the third largest fast-food chain in the United States as their signature chicken sandwiches and waffle fries continue to soar in popularity.
Over 50 years after opening the first restaurant in the Atlanta area, Chick-fil-A's sales numbers have risen significantly, bested only by McDonald's and Starbucks, according to food-service consultancy Technomic Inc, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The company remains privately-owned.
“We’ve been pretty consistent in how, over multiple decades, we’re going to take it slow and steady,” said Mark Moraitakis, a Chick-fil-A senior director, speaking of the company’s growth.
“It’s paid off for us.”
In the past 10 years, the restaurant's sales have tripled to $10.2 billion in 2018.
The restaurant is especially popular among Christians in part because of the vision and values of the founding family. The restaurant chain has maintained over the years its policy of being closed on Sunday to honor the keeping of the Sabbath.
The restaurant is also known for friendly customer service from staff. When customers say "thank you" to the employees they are trained to respond with "My pleasure."
Chick-fil-A has approximately twice as many locations as they did in 2007, many of which are located in the South.
"Each year since 2015, Chick-fil-A has been the top-rated fast-food restaurant on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which considers factors such as staff courtesy and restaurant cleanliness," the WSJ noted.
"Among limited-service U.S. restaurants that mainly serve chicken, Chick-fil-A’s market share rose to 33% last year from 18% in 2009, while the market share of Yum Brands Inc.’s KFC chain fell to 15% from 29% in that time, according to data tracker Euromonitor."
Chick-fil-A’s success has also reportedly lessened hamburger sales, according to consultants and industry executives.
The company has continued to make headlines for its consistently good customer service but has also received negative press as it continues to draw the ire of liberal groups and politicians because of the stated views of the restaurant's owners and previous donations to groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
In March, the city council of San Antonio, Texas, voted to bar the chain from opening in the city airport over what they called "anti-LGBT behavior."
“We hope they will experience for themselves that Chick-fil-A embraces all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity,” Chick-fil-A told CP in a statement, after it reached out to the city for a dialogue with the council.
This was preceded by Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, rejecting a student body request to allow a Chick-fil-A restaurant on campus.
The university claimed that the fast food company’s views on LGBT issues “have not sufficiently progressed enough.” In response, one of the school’s deans, Cynthia Newman of the College of Business who is a committed Christian, submitted her letter of resignation in February in protest the school's move.
Chick-fil-A’s corporate values first came under fire in 2012, when its President Dan Cathy affirmed his stance in support of traditional marriage. In 2014, he said he regretted wading into the marriage debate.
The fast-food company announced in July its plans to open its first location outside the U.S., in Toronto, Canada.