Founded about 75 years ago and the home of the original chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A is a well-known American fast-food chain. But this famous fast-food brand has a number of interesting truths that not many are aware of. Continuing with our revelations, here are 10 more untold truths of Chick-fil-A!
10. It is a fast-food chain with the friendliest employees
When it started off as Dwarf Grill in the mid-1940s, the restaurant was known for its signature chicken sandwich that was created to rival the hamburger. From Dwarf Grill, it became Chick-fil-A in the late-1960s, when the first restaurant under that name was opened. The restaurant founder’s main aim was to serve the best chicken sandwich with a focus on excellent customer service. And the founder’s vision of good customer service is adhered to even today. As such, Chick-fil-A is known to have the friendliest employees in the fast-food business. And it’s not just us saying that; most customers have reported that they feel that Chick-fil-A employees are extra-friendly. While most fast-food restaurants concentrate on fast service, increasing footfall and aggressive advertising strategies, Chick-fil-A’s founder, S. Truett Cathy, had envisioned a fast food restaurant that puts customer satisfaction first and above all else. He wanted the restaurant staff to always be courteous and polite to customers. According to a publication, the staff is trained to be exceedingly courteous and follow a set protocol for friendliness and politeness to ensure a great service experience for customers. Thus, ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ are unfailingly used by Chick-fil-A employees when interacting with customers. In fact, Chick-fil-A was voted as the restaurant as the ‘most polite chain restaurant’ in a 2016 survey of drive-thru service restaurants. It beat 15 other fast-food chains in the survey to reach the coveted spot. Another interesting fact about Chick-fil-A employees is that they are trained to use ‘elevated language’ with customers. So, you’re more likely to hear ‘my pleasure’ instead of ‘you’re welcome’ from restaurant staff.
9. Chick-fil-A generously supports employee education
Chick-fil-A is as dedicated to its employees’ well being as it is towards its customers. Honoring the religious belief of its founder, S. Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A is known for its standout feature of Sunday restaurant closures i.e. all Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays. Besides honoring the founder’s religious beliefs, the restaurant chain is also dedicated to taking care of its employees’ futures. It does so by helping its employees go to college. Chick-fil-A’s founder placed a lot of emphasis on higher education. It is widely believed that the company has generously provided college scholarships to the tune of $35 million to its employees since 1973. The company believes in investing in the future of its employees so as to empower them to lead better lives. That is probably one of the many positive reasons for employee satisfaction at Chick-fil-A. The company has an ongoing employee initiative called ‘Remarkable Futures’ that is committed to funding the education of its employees. As part of this initiative, in early 2019, Chick-fil-A reportedly gave out upwards of $15 million in educational scholarships to about 6000 employees in its American restaurants. This number reflects an increased spending in this initiative and continues to place Chick-fil-A at the top of the table in terms of unrestricted per-employee scholarship investments in the industry. With such generous contributions to employee education, is it any wonder that Chick-fil-A employees seem to be always polite and friendly towards customers?
8. There is a Chick-fil-A in almost every state in the U.S., except three
Chick-fil-A became famous for its lip-smacking chicken sandwich that was created to match the hamburger craze of the 1960s when the restaurant was started under that name. The restaurant has been dishing out one delicious chicken sandwich after another has been around since then. But not many know that the legendary sandwich was born out of a poultry surplus of that time. And the founder created the sandwich by using the unique technique of pressure frying the chicken to give it a juicy taste and texture. Adding a super-secret mix of seasonings and spices along with tasty pickles gave it a distinctive taste. Though the final result may look very simple, one bite of the sandwich and one realizes the complex layers of flavor that make a Chick-fil-A sandwich. The original recipe of the chicken sandwich was the founder’s creation and is now a trade secret. With such a deep history and unmatched taste, Chick-fil-A soon became a nationwide phenomenon. It has outlets in many countries across the world and in almost every state of the United States. We use the term ‘almost every state’ because there are three U.S. states that do not yet have a Chick-fil-A. Besides Vermont, Hawaii and Alaska, all the other 47 states have one or more than one Chick-fil-A outlet. The reasons for the non-existence of a Chick-fil-A outlet in these three states are unknown. But one thing we do know for sure is that both the residents and visitors to these three states are missing out on the awesome taste of Chick-fil-A fare!
7. Chick-fil-A’s secret menu is quite extensive
Most fast-food restaurants have a secret menu i.e. a range of off-menu items that customers in the know can order. And Chick-fil-A is no exception to this rule. In fact, Chick-fil-A is known to have quite an expansive secret menu. Though its signature item is the original chicken sandwich whose recipe is a major secret within the company, there are a plethora of other items on the menu, including variations of the chicken sandwich, salads, desserts, drinks breakfast items, sides, and more. Many customers have discovered that there are a range of secret menu items that Chick-fil-A employees will make for you if you just ask nicely. Some of the items on this secret menu are a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, Double Decker Sandwich, Fried Chicken Club, Cheese Fries, Chicken Quesadilla, Chicken Bacon Ranch Deluxe, The Spicy Char, Double Double Down, Root Beer Float, Spicy Chicken Biscuit, Grilled Cheese, and more. The process to order these secret menu items is easy; either you can just ask for them by their name or describe the item so that the staff can make it for you as required. If you want a Double Decker Sandwich, just ask for two patties in your chicken sandwich. If you ask for a Double Double Down, your sandwich bun will consist of two pieces of fried chicken with two chicken patties, bacon and cheese. This sandwich is for those brave enough to handle the calories in this Double Double Down! For those craving a tangy sandwich, go for the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich that comes doused in tangy Buffalo sauce. You can even get a quesadilla at Chick-fil-A; just ask for a charbroiled chicken in a grilled flour tortilla and ask for cheese and your desired sauce to be added to it. While their waffle fries are well-known, try their Cheese Fries too, for they are just regular waffle fries with a melted cheese slice on top. And how can you forget drinks; there’s a secret menu item in drinks too! Go for a Root Beer Float; most employees will serve it right up, but if they don’t, just ask for root beer to be poured on top of a vanilla milkshake with a scoop of soft serve on top. Yum!
6. There’s a Hawaiian-themed Chick-fil-A in Georgia
Even though they do not have a location in Hawaii yet, Chick-fil-A has managed to open a Hawaiian-themed restaurant in Fayetteville, Georgia. The restaurant is the brainchild of Chick-fil-A founder, S. Truett Cathy, and is aptly called ‘Truett’s Luau’. The restaurant is close to the founder’s heart since he opened it when he was 92 years old. He had envisioned a restaurant with a relaxed, vacation-style environment where customers could have an excellent meal with family and friends. In the founder’s mind, nothing embodied this spirit more than a Hawaiian luau. He reportedly sketched out the details of this restaurant in the form of doodles and notes on a 3×5 index card. The restaurant opened at the end of 2013 in a massive 8000 square foot space and is now the largest restaurant in the Chick-fil-A portfolio. Truett’s Luau brought to life the founder’s vision of a festive Hawaiian theme. With nearly 50 years of restaurant business experience and nearly 1700 restaurants to his name, it isn’t surprising to hear that almost every décor element in the restaurant was handpicked by Truett himself. As for the food, besides the regular chicken items, the restaurant also serves pork and tropical seafood. And guests can never get enough of the legendary Chick-fil-A hospitality combined with the Hawaiian spirit of the restaurant.
5. Anyone can open a Chick-fil-A outlet
Most fast-food chains operate on a franchising model. And owning a fast-food franchise is a great source of income for many investors. But many people believe that opening a fast food outlet is an expensive affair requiring a massive initial capital, time and manpower investment. But that isn’t the case with Chick-fil-A. Opening a Chick-fil-A outlet is not very expensive; all you need is $10,000. Unlike other fast-food franchises, Chick-fil-A believes in keeping the cost of initial investment low so that anybody with a decent amount of interest and money can approach them to open an outlet. Reportedly, the company will even pay all the initial business costs like real estate purchase, equipment, restaurant construction costs, etc. But the ownership of the outlet will remain with Chick-fil-A. Since it has a reputation to maintain, operating Chick-fil-A franchise is not easy. The company has a stringent screening process in selecting a franchisee. To become a franchisee, alongside an initial capital of $10,000, reportedly all franchisees must pass through a series of interviews and undergo a thorough training program, all of which is a time-consuming process. Each franchisee is chosen after careful consideration by the company bosses to ensure adherence to company values and customer service practices. To become a franchisee, Chick-fil-A has a set of conditions that must be complied with, like, the restaurant operator/franchisee must be actively involved in the running of the outlet, the restaurant location is selected by Chick-fil-A and not the operator, each franchisee can only operate one location, etc. Since Chick-fil-A delivers high returns on investment, becoming a Chick-fil-A franchisee is extremely competitive.
4. Chick-fil-A employs clever advertising tactics
Even if you’ve never eaten at Chick-fil-A, you are sure to have come across a signboard or advertisement for it featuring a cow mascot that is seen writing ‘Eat Mor Chikin’ in all capital letters. This very clever and unique advertising strategy is said to be the brainchild of The Richards Group and the first of such billboards came up in Dallas, Texas. There has been no looking back in terms of a company mascot ever since. The concept consists of Holstein dairy cows holding, painting or wearing signboards that read the cheeky company slogan ‘Eat Mor Chikin’ which encourages customers to eat more chicken sandwiches instead of burgers or steaks. The now-famous cows and slogan are seen everywhere – billboards, signboards, water towers, advertisements on radio, TV and online. But the initial mascot of Chick-fil-A was a chicken, Doodles, who can still be seen on the Chick-fil-A logo. The company has adopted the cow mascots whole-heartedly and the customers seem to love them too. Apparently, Chick-fil-A hosts an annual Cow Appreciation Day in July where customers can dress up as cows and receive complimentary meals.
3. There is no secret recipe for the delicious Chick-fil-A sauce
Chick-fil-A is popular with customers not just for its scrumptious chicken sandwiches and waffle fries, but also its Chick-fil-A sauce. For years, customers have dipped their fries and chicken nuggets in this delicious sauce and tried to figure out its secret recipe. But here’s the secret: there is no secret recipe for the sauce! Sure, the sauce tastes magically yummy, but its recipe is not a secret at all. In fact, the people at Chick-fil-A themselves revealed the recipe of the sauce on Twitter. The official Twitter account of Chick-fil-A once mentioned that their signature sauce was a mix of honey mustard, ranch and barbecue sauces. As simple as that! With such easily available ingredients, anybody can whip up the Chick-fil-A sauce at home.
2. Chick-fil-A and the same-sex marriage controversy
Founded on the strong Christian beliefs of S. Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A was once involved in a same-sex marriage controversy. In early 2011, many media outlets claimed that Chick-fil-A was donating millions of dollars to organizations and co-sponsoring events that were opposed to same-sex marriage. Some outlets even reported that a charity founded by Truett and his wife, The WinShape Foundation, did not permit same-sex couples on its marriage retreats. In direct response to these reports, it was reported that students across the U.S. campaigned for a ban or removal of Chick-fil-A restaurants from their university campuses. The controversy hit a crescendo in mid-2012 when Truett’s son and Chick-fil-A COO at that time, Dan, made a public statement opposing same-sex marriage, that met with severe political disapproval. But to counter the protests of same-sex marriage activists, a former Arkansas Governor announced a ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day’. To put an end to the controversy, a civil rights organization issued a statement that ‘Chick-fil-A had ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights.’ Though the statement was never officially confirmed by Chick-fil-A, all persons are said to be treated equally at Chick-fil-A outlets now. But many still believe that Chick-fil-A continues to donate to anti-LGBT groups.
1. Chick-Fil-A believes in upcycling
Committed to doing their bit to protect the environment, the folks at Chick-fil-A have invested in upcycling plastic bottles to create staff uniforms. The company partnered with a South Carolina-based apparel manufacturer to create a sustainable material from which to make staff members’ polo shirts. After extensive research, they come up with a material, rPET fabric, that incorporated bamboo fibers, organic cotton and recycled materials like plastic bottles. By mid-2017, about 100,000 Chick-fil-A employees were wearing polo shirts made from this upcycled material. The use of plastic bottles in making the polo shirts reportedly saved 5.3 million bottles from being dumped into landfills or in the oceans. The new uniforms are not only sustainable, but they are fashionable and comfortable too. Other features of the shirts include stain release, anti-microbial, and moisture-wicking properties. Reportedly, each polo shirt contains anywhere from 9-19 plastic bottles. This apparently makes Chick-fil-A employees the first ones in the fast-food industry to wear uniforms made from upcycled and reclaimed plastic bottles.