Supporters of Chick-fil-A filled area restaurants Wednesday in support of the company and its president’s recent stance about marriage.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared Wednesday national “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”
Long lines of supporters gathered at the Chick-fil-A locations in Gainesville, Flowery Branch and Oakwood.
The Cumming location was one of many nationwide flooded with customers opening their wallets in solidarity.
“I’m here to say that I support a company that has Christian values,” Amy Mullivan said. “I’ve always been attracted to this company because of what they do for other people and for their values.”
The support follows public backlash over a statement made by the restaurant’s president and chief operating officer, Dan Cathy. In an interview, Cathy said the company is supportive of family, specifically, “the biblical definition of the family unit.”
As word of the interview got out, as well as information the company donates money to what have been called both pro-family and anti-gay groups, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights organizations and supporters have rallied against the fast-food chain.
Public officials from various cities and other businesses have taken a stand against the company. Its supporters, as evidenced by the overwhelming crowds Wednesday, have done likewise.
Mike Ridzon, owner of the Cumming Chick-fil-A, called the crowd “unprecedented.”
“It’s huge. I haven’t looked at all the numbers yet, but it’s significant,” he said.
Since Cathy’s comments, Ridzon said his restaurant is “seeing an upward trend” in business.
But Ridzon added that his restaurant is just that — a restaurant.
“We’re here to serve chicken,” he said. “There is no battle ... we’re just trying to do the best we can to serve chicken and to be thankful for all those who want to eat chicken with us any time.
“We’re going to serve people and treat them with honor, dignity and respect no matter who they are ... our customers are our customers.”
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 stores around the country and kiss each other.
Jennifer Sami of the Times regional staff and the Associated Press contributed to this story.