Chain’s execs visit area restaurants
President Dan Cathy, son of the company’s founder, is also speaking to church groups and organizations.
Dan Cathy held up a colossal plastic-covered recipe Monday while touring his Chick-fil-A restaurant at Ward Parkway Center.
“In most fast-food restaurants you don’t need recipes, you just need instructions: Open the box,” said Cathy, president and chief operating officer of the Atlanta-based chain. “We are still restaurateurs operating this business. We’re not accountants. When accountants start running Chick-fil-A, you won’t have fresh-squeezed lemons, you will have Country Time or some kind of powdered mix.”
Cathy and members of his corporate team are in town this week visiting area operators, taking a look at sites under construction and perhaps scouting for new locations.
“We’re bullish on the Kansas City market,” he said.
And why not? When the first area location opened nearly four years ago in Olathe, it had the highest-grossest opening weekend in the chain’s 43-year history.
Since then, six more area locations have sprung up, in Independence, south Kansas City, Liberty, Olathe and Overland Park. All are corporate-owned except for a licensed operation at
Johnson County Community College.
A Chick-fil-A location at Plaza at the Speedway, 10770 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, Kan., is scheduled to open in August, and a St. Joseph location is scheduled for June, for a total of 120 new jobs. Two or three more area restaurants are planned in the next two years.
Business development wasn’t the only item on Cathy’s agenda this week. Before winding up the visit later today, Cathy also planned to speak to churches and organizations, sharing the company’s philosophy, core values and strategy.
Chick-fil-A got its start when Cathy’s father, S. Truett Cathy, opened The Dwarf Grill in 1946, but with a twist: It would be closed on Sundays because he didn’t want to deal with money on the “Lord’s Day.”
That became the foundation of the company’s corporate policy: To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come
@Go to KansasCity.com for Joyce Smith’s video report on Dan Cathy’s restaurant visit. in contact with Chick-fil-A.
Today, the elder Cathy — who still comes into the office daily at 89 — says his policy of closing on Sundays was the best business decision he ever made. His son agrees.
“We do incredible sales volumes Monday through Saturday,” he said. “Any crave-able brand typically has limited access.”
For those who might fret over losing a day’s sales, consider this — Chick-fil-A sales were more than $3.2 billion in 2009, an 8.6 percent overall increase and a 2.5 percent samestore sales gain from the year before. That was in one of the worst economies in decades and marked the chain’s 42nd year of consecutive sales gains.
Chick-fil-A uses fresh fruits and vegetables and namebrand products while sticking strictly to those enormous recipes for a consistent experience, Cathy said.
But the company gives employees leeway for their “warm-hearted impulses.” So a Florida operator purchased an oversized pepper mill so he could offer diners freshly ground pepper for their salads. Cathy liked the idea so much that he purchased 1,500 more for his other restaurants.
When chicken nuggets pass their holding times, a Virginia Chick-fil-A operator puts them in a plastic bag labeled “Not for human consumption” and passes them out to dog owners in the drive-through.
Cathy talks about how the word “restaurant” comes from the word for “restore,” something the company constantly reinforces with its workers.
So one of its employee training films shows what may be going through a customer’s mind when she is standing in a Chick-fil-A line. Maybe she is worried about a job situation or just lost a husband. Or the person could be a child with an emotionally abusive parent.
“That busy mother might need more than waffle fries and a cookies and cream milkshake for resuscitation,” Cathy said. “People are starving for honor, dignity and respect. We’re all about influencing people and giving them the encouragement they need.” To reach Joyce Smith, call 816234-4692 or send e-mail to [email protected]star.com.
Chick-fil-A’s “Eat Mor Chikin” cows are the focal point of the chain’s in-store promotions and merchandising.