Chick-Fil-A's New CEO Isn't Planning To Change This Company Quirk

The family that runs Chick-fil-A has handed the controls to a new generation, and that's bound to mean change is coming to the hugely successful fast food chain (via The Wall Street Journal). We're not saying 43-year-old Andrew Cathy has values any different from those of his grandfather and Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy or his father Dan Cathy, whom Andrew replaced as CEO on November 1. It's simply true that any business that wants to survive needs to evolve.

"The thing that's important for us not to lose sight of is that hunger to evolve," Andrew Cathy told The Wall Street Journal. "Success can be a danger for any organization, that you start holding on to what got you where you are today and you lose sight of what you need going forward."

Where Chick-fil-A is today is the top of the fast food heap, in many ways. The chain may be No. 3 overall in total sales, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, but no one comes close to Chick-fil-A's average-store sales of $5 million a year (via QSR). Individual McDonald's locations make less than $3 million a year on average. Chick-fil-A has also been No. 1 in customer satisfaction among both fast food and full-service restaurants for seven years in a row, per the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. As a new Cathy steps in to run Chick-fil-A, he knows there's still room for improvement. But don't expect Chick-fil-A's evolution to include opening on Sundays.

Chick-fil-A's restaurants are busy, and its new CEO believes workers deserve a break on Sundays

It's impressive enough that individual Chick-fil-A locations make more money than the other chains' restaurants, on average. But it's even more impressive when you consider that Chick-fil-A beats everyone else after giving them a one-day head start. All the big fast food chains are open seven days a week. Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays. Third-generation CEO Andrew Cathy said that won't change under his leadership. "We'll definitely keep our stores closed on Sunday," Cathy told The Wall Street Journal. "It goes back to how my grandfather started the business. ... We continued that philosophy of keeping our stores closed on Sundays so that people can go to church if they want to, if they need some time with family."

Two other factors are holding Chick-fil-A back, and Cathy would like to see them both change. One is the pandemic-related poultry shortage, which is out of Chick-fil-A's control. The second problem is something Cathy thinks he can fix. Chick-fil-A had the slowest drive-thru time among 10 fast food chains in QSR magazine's 2021 drive-thru study.

"We're constantly looking at the operations," Cathy said, when The Wall Street Journal asked him about drive-thru speed. "We've got some stores that are utilizing parking lots for second and third drive-through lanes. A lot of team members are out in parking lots taking orders on iPads."

Just don't suggest to Chick-fil-A's new CEO that he spread that heavy drive-thru traffic over all seven days of the week.