Under the religiously conservative founder, fast-food behemoth Chick-fil-A gained prominence for its Bible Belt observance of Sunday — none of its hundreds of restaurants are open on that day so that employees can have a day of rest.
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And while this may seem like a threat to its business model, executives of the company have often said the chain made as much money in six days as its competitors do in seven.
In early December 2009, the company surpassed the $3 billion annual sales mark for the first time. That same year the company marked 42 years of consecutive annual sales growth since its establishment in 1967.
By early 2013, annual sales topped $5 billion as the chain offered up a taste of the South that went beyond chicken to such offerings as sweet tea, biscuits and gravy, the company says on its website.
That number surged years later when the company earned roughly $9 billion in sales, according to the 2018 QSR Magazine Report which analyzes fast-food franchises for 2017 U.S. sales.
The figure sales was particularly impressive for a chain that operates 2,500 restaurants, compared to fellow competitors such as McDonald's which operates 37,855 restaurants worldwide, according to QSR.
However, it achieved such an impressive feat by gaining more per store than any other restaurant, the outlet reported. In 2017, the average store earned approximately $4,090,900. Comparatively, McDonald’s earned $2,670,320 on average per unit.
An opportunity in 1961 led to the development of the restaurant chain’s trademark chicken sandwich when a company that cooked boneless, skinless chicken for airline meals wanted to sell Cathy pieces that were too big for the airline customer’s needs. Cathy took those pieces and cooked them in a pressure cooker and served them in buttered buns.
That very sandwich later became a key player in the so-called chicken sandwich wars that erupted last August. The fight over the hierarchy of the fried piece of poultry on a bun created a social media feud accompanied by an uptick in sales for the chains that were pitted against each other.
Chick-fil-A serves freshly prepared food in more than 2,500 restaurants across 47 states, Washington, D.C., and Canada.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.