Practically every Christian in the United States (and a sizable population of non-Christians, too) knows Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays. The Christian fast-food company is diligent about observing the Sabbath and allowing their employees an opportunity to go to church. While they’ve been known to break the policy in times of emergency (ox-in-ditch type situations) or very special occasions, the company has chosen to forgo profit on a majorly lucrative day this year: Superbowl Sunday.
“It is pretty unusual,” Jonathan Hollis, the operator of the Chick-fil-A location located inside Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium, admits. In a video posted to Chick-fil-A’s website, Hollis explains there are plenty of other opportunities to serve people at the stadium attending events other than those, like NFL games, that are held on Sundays.
Some nights the location serves as many as 5,000 sandwiches, Hollis says. Given the popularity of the Superbowl, it’s possible this location would have served even more than that at the upcoming February 3rd Superbowl game.
Chick-fil-A Is Doing Really Well, Despite Its Shorter Work Week
But for Chick-fil-A, it’s not a matter of how much money they are missing out on, rather a matter of principle. Since opening in 1946, the company’s founder, Truett Cathy, reserved Sundays as the Lord’s day and has shut its doors.
Chick-fil-A’s website says: “Having worked seven days a week in restaurants open 24 hours, Truett saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest and worship if they choose.”
Despite being open one day less than other major restaurant chains, Chick-fil-A is doing very well. According to an article in Forbes Magazine, Chick-fil-A is on a trajectory to become the third-largest restaurant chain in the U.S. in 2019—just behind McDonalds and Starbucks. The article also mentioned how the company treats its employees.
Many Chick-fil-A operators also pay well above the minimum wage, including a California operator who pays $17 an hour. At the corporate level, Chick-fil-A was just named one of the best large companies for women based on compensation and culture.
Chick-fil-A Has Made Exceptions to Their Closed-on-Sunday Rule
It’s important to note the times Chick-fil-A has opened locations on Sunday, simply because of their stark contrast to events like the Superbowl. When a power outage struck Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport on a Sunday in December 2017, leaving thousands of travelers stranded, the location inside the airport opened up to serve them.
In 2015, a few locations near Dallas, Texas, opened on a Sunday to serve first responders who were working to save lives during a tornado that left 11 people dead.
More recently, a location in Mobile, Alabama, opened on Sunday to help a 14-year-old boy with special needs celebrate his birthday. CBS news wrote:
Elijah Sprague is autistic and has cerebral palsy, and his dream is to work in a drive-through. So his family pulled a few strings and the Chick-fil-A in Mobile let Elijah work there for his birthday.
“This is super special to us,” Elijah’s mother told reporters. “Elijah’s not going to graduate like our other kids. He’s not going to get married or have kids. So this is just a really cool experience to us for him to have this level of attention…it’s neat for people to recognize he’s a really cool kid.”
In conclusion, Chick-fil-A seems to be doing impeccably well at following Jesus’ instructions on how to observe the Sabbath (see Luke 14). We are to observe it and rest from work, even if we could potentially make a whole lot of money if we didn’t. On the other hand, if there’s an emergency and we can do something to help other people, by all means we should work.
Put succinctly, Chick-fil-A has rightly concluded that the Superbowl is not an ox in the ditch.