Chick-fil-A restaurants were a lot busier Wednesday, and it had more to do with customers coming out to support the company executive’s views on marriage than simply wanting a chicken sandwich.
Lance Danko, of North Augusta, and his family visited the Chick-fil-A in North Augusta before the lunch rush, and they didn’t mind waiting in line for nearly an hour. Customers were lined up out the door and it was standing room only.
“We came here to show our support and our appreciation,” Danko said. “We’re Christians, and Chick-fil-A is a wonderful Christian organization. I really feel like they’ve been taken an unfair hit with all of the publicity lately, so we wanted to come out and show our support.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared Wednesday as national “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” Across the nation came reports of long lines and traffic jams at restaurants.
Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press last month that the Atlanta-based company was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” That unleashed a torrent of criticism from gay rights groups and others, who have called for boycotts and efforts to block the chain from opening new stores.
Billy Arrington, of North Augusta, and his wife, children and grandchildren eat at Chick-fil-A every so often, but they made a special trip to support the restaurant Wednesday.
“I’ve heard a good many people say that they were going ... just to show support for the Cathy family because of their Christian values. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Arrington said. “I think Christian values have been pushed back in this country for too long now. I think that this is what we were built upon. Our forefathers built one nation under God, and I think that’s what we should be.”
Karen Nelson and Lesia McCormick, of North Augusta, left Chick-fil-A with armfuls of food bags after they waited in line for almost 40 minutes.
“Nobody’s going to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do. I’m going to eat where I want to eat,” Nelson said. “It’s true what the Bible says, so it’s whether people want to agree or not. People are definitely showing up for the cause.”
Despite being the cause of the swell of customers, the company did not endorse the appreciation day.
“Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was created by our fans, not Chick-fil-A,” Steve Robinson, Chick-fil-A’s executive vice president of marketing, said in a statement. “We appreciate all of our customers and are glad to serve them at any time. Our goal is simple: to provide great food, genuine hospitality, and to have a positive influence on all who come in to Chick-fil-A.”
National figures participated in the appreciation day. A spokeswoman for the Rev. Billy Graham says the 93-year-old evangelist ate a Chick-fil-A lunch, including a chicken sandwich and waffle fries, at his North Carolina home.
Opponents of the company’s stance are planning “Kiss Mor Chiks” for Friday, when they are encouraging people of the same sex to show up at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country and kiss each other.
Associated Press contributed to this article.