Despite the fact that Chick-fil-A closes on Sundays, despite that the chain has fewer stores, and despite the major attack on its businesses by left-wing activists, Chick-fil-A has surpassed Kentucky Fried Chicken as the nation’s leader for fast food chicken.
One hint of the company’s success is seen in the annual report published by rival Kentucky Fried Chicken. Recently KFC had to remove from its report one of its long-standing claims: that KFC is “the leader in the U.S. chicken” fast food market.
Amazingly, Chick-fil-A has achieved this status with fewer locations than its top rival. The Georgia-based restaurant has 1,775 stores in the U.S. compared to KFC’s 4,491. Despite that disparity in locations, Chik-fil-A earned $5.05 billion in 2013 whereas KFC brought in $4.22 billion.
This great success isn’t going to change the family focus or religious observances of its management, though. Despite the chain’s growth, the company won’t change its decision to stay closed on Sundays.
“Our founder, Truett Cathy, made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia. He has often shared that his decision was as much practical as spiritual,” a spokesman for Chick-fil-A said. “He believes that all franchised Chick-fil-A operators and their restaurant employees should have an opportunity to rest, spend time with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so. That’s why all Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays. It’s part of our recipe for success.”
Even with its restaurants closed on Sundays, the chain’s average earnings per store tops KFC’s. “Each restaurant made about $3.2 million in 2013, more than three times as much as the average KFC at $938,000,” Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
This makes Chick-fil-A one of the nation’s most successful fast food chains – not that some haven’t tried to destroy that success.
In 2012 gay activists targeted the chain and attempted to destroy it because the corporation’s leadership supported traditional marriage. The leftists attempted to organize a boycott, but the effort failed miserably.
Even Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried to get in on the action by announcing a ban on Chick-fil-A in the hopes of helping to destroy the chain. These efforts only pushed the chicken seller into the ranks of the biggest-selling fast food chains in the country.
Still, the company is better known in the South even today. In North Carolina it has 144 locations and in Georgia 200, but it is less well-known in the Midwest and West. In Wisconsin it only has one location; in Illinois it has only 24. The company says that this is changing and expansion is on the way.
One thing is certain: With its great financial success so far, one can expect great things from Chick-fil-A.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.