Thousands of Chick-fil-A fans turned out Wednesday for the unofficial “Appreciation Day” at most of the Atlanta-based fast-food chain’s 1,600 units.
The observance was originally proposed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who signed up more than 500,000 attendees through a posting on his Facebook page after Dan Cathy, the chain’s president and chief operator officer, came under criticism for comments in July about same-sex marriage.
Steve Robinson, executive vice president for marketing, issued a statement Wednesday that emphasized the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was not created by the company.
“We appreciate all of our customers and are glad to serve them at any time,” Robinson said. “Our goal is simple: to provide great food, genuine hospitality and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”
A midday visit to a Dallas Chick-fil-A unit found a half dozen people waiting outside the restaurant and more than 25 cars snaked around the store and well into the thoroughfare waiting to place orders in the drive-thru.
Marguerite Buccino, who was leaving the restaurant with two of her children and a stack of meals to go, said for her, patronizing the restaurant was a matter of liberty and free speech. If you say something other people don’t like, are they going to put you out of business?” she asked.
Supporters of same-sex marriage plan a “Kiss Mor Chicks” kiss-in Friday at Chick-fil-A restaurants.
As of March, Chick-fil-A had restaurants in 39 states and the District of Columbia. It planned to open 77 stand-alone restaurants and 15 licensee locations in 2012.