Chick-fil-A founder and chairman emeritus S. Truett Cathy, died at 1:35 a.m. September 8 at the age of 93. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones.
In 1946, Cathy started a small diner in Hapeville, Georgia, which he developed into Chick-fil-A, which today has the highest same-store sales and is the nation's largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain based on annual system-wide sales. It was at the original restaurant that Cathy created the sandwich that became the company's signature item.
Credited with creating the original Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich and pioneering in-mall fast food, Cathy built one of the nation's largest family-owned companies as Chick-fil-A reached $5 billion in annual sales in 2013. Currently, there are more than 1,800 Chick-fil-A restaurants operating in 40 states and Washington, D.C. Cathy led Chick-fil-A on an unparalleled record of 47 consecutive years of annual sales increases.
Cathy's oldest son, Dan, became president of Chick-fil-A in 2001 and chairman and chief executive officer in 2013, while Truett Cathy continued in the role of chairman emeritus until his death.
Chick-fil-A is presently in the process of switching to serving only chicken raised without antibiotics. The company announced the decision in February, and expects to fully make the transition within five years.
Company will remain true to family, Christian roots
As an extension of Truett Cathey’s Christian faith, all Chick-fil-A restaurants operate with a "Closed-on-Sunday" policy. Rare within the food service industry, this policy allows employees a day for family, worship, fellowship or rest and also underscores Cathy’s desire to put principles and people ahead of profits. Chick-fil-A will remain privately held and closed on Sundays.
Cathy was often quoted as saying: "I'd like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed. I have always encouraged my restaurant operators and team members to give back to the local community. We should be about more than just selling chicken. We should be a part of our customers' lives and the communities in which we serve."
Cathy is survived by his wife of 65 years, Jeannette McNeil Cathy; sons Dan T. and Don "Bubba" Cathy; daughter Trudy Cathy White; 19 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.