Supporters flock to Chick-fil-A
BARBOURSVILLE -- Lines of Chick-fil-A supporters flooded stores nationwide, including both locations in Barboursville, on what was a customer-driven appreciation day.
"We'll wait till midnight," said Karen Perry of Salt Rock, who joined in her husband, Larry, in the line of vehicles waiting to order at the Melody Farms location. She was one of many who filled the drive through lines backing all the way to Mall Road. Perry and others were there in support of the restaurant's owners support of groups that oppose gay marriage.
Wednesday's customer appreciation day was started by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in support of company President Dan Cathy's promotion of the company as a Christian organization that stays closed on Sundays and opposes same sex marriage. In Chicago and Boston, political leaders have said they don't want Chick-fil-A doing business in their cities.
The customer appreciation day was in response to boycotts of the restaurant chain urged by gay rights advocates, who are calling for a kiss-in at Chick-fil-A restaurants on Friday.
Those who lined up in Barboursville on Wednesday were there in support of Cathy and the Chick-fil-A corporation.
Delores Nelson dined in for lunch, saying members of her church, Salt Rock Community Church, were planning to bring a large group Wednesday night.
"I want to make it known I stand for the Bible," Nelson said. "It meant a lot to take stand. We need to do that more."
Beth Kuhn and her four children walked up the hill from the lower shopping plaza to get their food, also saying that they wanted to support Cathy's stance on family values.
One woman called police Wednesday evening claiming that two female protesters were kissing in front of her and her child as they waited in line.
Both Barboursville locations are run by franchisee Larry Pittman, opening the mall location in 1981 and the stand-alone restaurant in 2005.
Pittman said he couldn't get into the political debate surrounding Chick-fil-A, but he did express gratitude for the support people were showing.
"We try to treat our customers with honor, dignity and respect," Pittman said, as he propped open the door for customers coming and going at the Melody Farms location.
He downplayed the crowd, though, saying that August is one of the store's busiest months as it coincides with back-to-school season. Pittman also said that having employees take orders face-to-face from drivers outside also is not something new, but it did help keep the average wait time to 12 minutes, he said.
Pittman provided members of the media with a release from Chick-fil-A's marketing department that stressed the company's belief in how it operates and also called for issues such as same-sex marriage to be left to lawmakers.
"We believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-family," stated the release. "Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate ... to the government and political arena. Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.