Chick fil-A Wins Customers ... by Closing

"Not at all," said Cathy. "We know that Christian values, Biblical values, are important, but we found that it's not an issue of religious labels. We have a wide range of folks that identify with these principles. They have a lot of different religious preferences that are there and it spans the whole gamut. ... They have to be honest, they got to be people of integrity, they got to be passionate about what they're doing -- so we find some of those core values, you know, are common among people of all faiths."

Cathy believes the company's involvement in its employees' lives is good for business, too.

"Well, we genuinely know the full circle of this because if we care enough about them behind the counter, over the long haul, the ambience of that spills over this counter, and customers can kind of sense this: these people are for real.

"I like to tell people the food tastes better on Mondays because we're closed on Sunday. And I generally think that's true -- because a big reason why the food tastes good is because of the warmth and the hospitality that people sense when they are in here."

John Flatley has been with Chick fil-A for 16 years. Now he's the owner-operator of a new restaurant in La Plata, Md.

"The corporate purpose statement meets my personal values, to be a faithful steward of everything God has entrusted to me and to have a positive impact on everyone that comes into contact with Chick fil-A or, in my case, me," said Flatley. "It is just nice to be in a business where that is your focus. It's not about selling chicken, how much money can we make. All those things are important -- if we don't do that, we're not going to be in business. But it's about the opportunity to have a positive influence, whether it's on the team members that I work with, the vendors that we deal with or on the community in general.

"People come up and thank me for being involved in the community, thank me for being closed on Sunday, thank me for the positive impact I've had on their lives, and then they tell us what great food we have.

'Be Thankful'

Cathy's speech to the campers includes a little bit of sales. "Chick fil-A P.J. bottoms -- you can purchase these pants, they're available on," Cathy said about his own apparel, the black flannel P.J. bottoms printed with the company's logo. And it includes a little bit of scripture, delivered with a light touch for the late-night crowd.

"There is a God in heaven that loves all of us very personally, he knows us by name, the Bible even says He knows how many hairs are on our head. Now He just has to hold up less than 10 fingers for me.

"Nonetheless, he says here, give thanks in all things -- even while you are camping out and it's 90 degrees at midnight -- be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will.

"Hey, let me lead us in a word of prayer if I could, 'cause I have a lot to be thankful for. Because I have a wife I get to go home to tomorrow afternoon, I have two sons, I have a great place to work, I exercise and I run so that I can drink these delicious 700-calorie homespun peach milkshakes."

Eventually, Cathy heads back to the drive-through lane, where there's a spot to pitch his own tent.

"I like the drive-through side because it's usually a bit quieter, not as much music," he said.

Cathy has another reason to appreciate the drive-through: more than 60 percent of business comes down this lane.

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