More than a hundred hungry customers lined up outside the new Chick-fil-A restaurant in Bellevue (785 116th Avenue Northeast) Thursday, it appears Washington state has crossed the road – for the chicken, so to speak.
The kicker: the first 100 people through the door during the Grand Opening at 6 a.m. received free Chick-fil-A for a year. Customers were also encouraged to donate a book to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Bellevue.
The Bellevue location is expected to employ 80 people. The company says that fresh, local ingredients will be used in menu items, and each Chick-fil-A restaurant is locally owned and operated.
A brand expansion seems to be the name of the game for Chick-fil-A, a 68-year-old company, in the Pacific Northwest. Tacoma will get its own Chick-fil-A restaurant on April 16, and Lynnwood is right behind with an opening scheduled this May. Plans to open a store in Seattle were protested by LGBT supporters and allies.
The anti-gay controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A began in 2012 when CEO Dan Cathy publicly condemned same-sex marriage. In-store picketing, online petitions and social media lobbying to boycott the chain followed.
“All of us become more wise as time goes by,” Cathy later told USA Today, apologetically, in a rare, one-hour sit-down interview. “We sincerely care about all people.”
Now, he says, “I’m going to leave it to politicians and others to discuss social issues.”
However, the brand’s messaging hasn’t been changed since the debacle. The website states that the purpose of Chick-fil-A is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays because “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. He believes that all franchised Chick-fil-A Operators and 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.”
According to their FAQ page, Chick-fil-A has provided more than $30 million in Leadership Scholarships to more than 30,000 restaurant team members who have attended more than 3,100 colleges, universities and other educational institutions.
Additional Chick-fil-A restaurant openings are set to occur over the next 12 months in South Carolina, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, and Georgia.