The highest-rated restaurant in the United States is Chick-fil-A, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
With 1,950 locations in 42 states and Washington, D.C., Chick-fil-A does a great job focusing on one key menu item — the chicken sandwich — and delivering family-friendly service with a smile.
The chain, which started out in malls in the Atlanta area, went to free-standing restaurants in 1986 and hasn’t looked back since then. Chick-fil-A is now the eighth-largest fast-food chain in the U.S. by sales, doing more than $6 billion in business last year.
But there’s more to this quick-serve restaurant than meets the eye. Read on for some well-known and some obscure facts about the place that didn’t invent the chicken, but that did invent the chicken sandwich!
You can get a free sandwich when you download Chick-fil-A’s app
Need an incentive to download Chick-fil-A’s mobile app? How about free food?!
If you download by Saturday, June 11, you can get one of the following free sandwiches:
- Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich
- Chick-Fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Full details of how to redeem the app’s free sandwich offer can be found here.
You can get free food on Cow Appreciation Day
Every July, Chick-fil-A hosts a Cow Appreciation Day when customers ‘fully dressed as a cow’ can get any Chick-fil-A meal for free.
Those who opt for ‘partial cow attire’ instead — meaning you have some type of cow accessory, like a hat, vest or purse — can get any entrée for free.
The 12th Annual Cow Appreciation Day is coming up next month. Stay tuned for details about the exact date!
Kids eat free on Tuesday nights
On Tuesdays between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., kids get a free kid’s meal! Find a Chick-fil-A near you. (Participation may vary by location.)
Meanwhile, click here to see our list of 16 other places where your kids can eat for free!
Some stores recently did the unthinkable: They opened on Sunday!
You probably already know that Chick-fil-A doesn’t open on Sundays. The chain’s Sunday closure policy dates back to 1946 when founder Truett Cathy opened his first store in Hapeville, Ga. He intended the day off to give employees time for rest, family and worship, if they so wished.
But what Cathy originally did for religious reasons is brilliant for business, because operators (which is Chick-fil-A speak for franchisees) know they have a day off every week. That leads to a higher quality operation.
And amazingly, their sales are greater in six days than any other restaurant does in seven days, according to QSR (Quick Serve Restaurant) magazine!
Yet several Texas locations opened on a Sunday in late December last year to help a community impacted by deadly tornadoes that killed 11 people near Dallas. The stores weren’t open to the public, but team members got together to prepare and distribute free food to responders and others affected by the tornadoes.
Way to go, Team Truett!
You can become a Chick-fil-A operator for around $10,000
Chick-fil-A operators can get started with an investment of just for $10,000, according to Business Insider/Yahoo! Finance. That’s a very low barrier to entry! (McDonald’s and Taco Bell, by contrast, reportedly charge in the millions of dollars to get started as a franchisee.)
In addition, there’s no requirement that potential operators have a particular net worth or a certain amount of liquid assets.
‘The barrier to entry for being a franchisee is never going to be money,’ Chick-fil-A spokeswoman Amanda Hannah told Business Insider. ‘We seek to find the very best business partners who find great joy in making other people’s days.’
Chick-fil-A pays for all startup costs — including real estate, restaurant construction, and equipment. Operators pay an ongoing fee equal to 15% of sales, plus 50% of pre-tax profit remaining.
If you’re interested in becoming an operator, it all starts with submitting a form through the company’s website to express your interest!
But be warned, this is a very selective process: The chain gets more than 20,000 inquiries from operator candidates every year and only accepts about 75 to 80 new operators annually.
Chick-fil-A wants mobile distractions to fly the coop when you dine in with them
Americans now spend an average of 4.7 hours per day on their phone, according to a 2015 Informate Mobile Intelligence study. Your ‘screenagers’ are probably guilty of going through a family meal while glued to their phones, and maybe you are too.
When you dine at his restaurant, there’s a box (aka the coop) on the table. All family members put their phones in the box and close it up. Then no one gets their phone back out until the meal and all family conversation is finished.
If you can complete the challenge, you get a free ice cream cone!
More than 350 locally owned Chick-fil-A restaurants are giving their guests the chance to participate in the Cell Phone Coop Family challenge.
Chick-fil-A topped the American Customer Satisfaction Index
According to a recent American Customer Satisfaction Index, the highest-rated restaurant in the U.S. is Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A uses a very unusual system for their stores. The proprietor is called an operator. He or she is put into business by Chick-fil-A and shares in profits for the store, but serves at the pleasure of Chick-fil-A.
So it’s a different model than a franchise or a company-owned location. It is a hybrid blend where the person is not an owner in the traditional sense. But they can make a big income if they run a profitable store.
This give Chick-fil-A an entrepreneurial spirit and complete operational control at the same time. It’s a brilliant business model. And it is partly responsible for making them the best operation in America.
Some operators have a unique way of scouting out talent
Ever wonder what it takes to get hired at Chick-fil-A? For Chick-fil-A manager Kevin Moss, potential new hires should be able to pass what you could call the ‘garbage test.’
When a candidate is coming in for an interview, Moss intentionally leaves an errant french fry or sandwich wrapper on the floor in a very visible area. Then he waits and watches.
If the candidate picks up the garbage and disposes of it, that indicates to Moss that they probably posses the integrity and compassion the company is looking for from its team members.
And if they don’t pick it up, Moss will confront them about their decision and see how they might possibly try to justify their inaction.
‘You can teach anyone to put chicken on a sandwich, but you can’t teach them to care about it,’ Moss told Business Insider earlier this year.
Social media went crazy for the so-called ‘Chick-fil-A diet’
In February of this year, customers started noticing a lifestyle tip printed on Chick-fil-A bags suggesting the chain’s nuggets should be eaten every three to four hours as part of New Year’s resolutions to get fit.
SBNation’s Rodger Sherman tweeted about it and the post went viral. Pretty soon, the notion of the ‘Chick-fil-A’ diet was born.
It wasn’t long before social media was on fire with responses like this one from Twitter user Charlotte Kuhlman: ‘OMG there’s a Chick-fil-A diet where you eat Chick-fil-A nuggets every 3 hours. Sign me up!’
Finally, the story of the cows can be told!
The Chick-fil-A cows first appeared on billboards in 1995 and were the idea of a Dallas-based advertising agency called The Richards Group.
The story goes that Richards Group founder Stan Richards was walking by the desk of an art director who had made a small sketch of two ‘survival-minded cows’ holding paint brushes.
‘I looked at it and thought, ‘That’s a gem of an idea,’ ‘ Richards told the Dallas Morning News.
‘We’re … enlisting renegade cows who, in enlightened self-interest, are advising people to eat more chicken. We hoped it would work because it was the only avenue that was open to us.’
Well, we all know how that one turned out! The cows — who find themselves ‘speling chaleneged’ — are a beloved fixture of billboards wherever Chick-fil-A does business.