Chick-fil-A posted "record-setting" sales on Wednesday as thousands of people swarmed the chicken chain for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day after the chain's chief made anti-gay comments.
"While we don't release exact sales numbers, we can confirm reports that it was a record-setting day," Steve Robinson, Chick-fil-A's executive vice president of marketing, said in a statement.
At least one location had to close early after nearly selling out of chicken. At others, lines snaked around buildings and patrons waited upwards of two hours to snag their chicken sandwiches and show their support for Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy's comments supporting traditional marriage.
"We are very grateful and humbled by the incredible turnout of loyal Chick-fil-A customers on August 1 at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country," Robinson said. "We congratulate local Chick-fil-A Owner/Operators and their team members for striving to serve each and every customer with genuine hospitality."
At the Chick-fil-A in Augusta, Georgia, about 150 miles from the franchise's Atlanta headquarters, the lunch line wait was hours long. And after a day of lines that snaked around the building, the restaurant had to turn away part of the dinner crowd, closing two hours early due to low supplies.
Lillian Huber, the Augusta Chick-fil-A's marketing director, told ABC News that employees began directing customers to another location around 8 p.m. so the store would have enough food left to open the next morning.
With no Chick-fil-A locations in Maine, Auburn, Maine resident Arthur Langley organized a caravan to cart supporters to the nearest location two hours away. Langley said he and 14 friends and supporters drove the two hours and "happily" waited a "very very long time" to "demonstrate their support for what they believe was very important values in our society."
Langley said the Chick-fil-A in a food court in Peabody, Massachusetts was "swamped with people" and felt like a family reunion.
"It was people you really don't know but you know they're family so you treat them politely and nicely," he said.
Mike Huckabee, who created the Appreciation Day movement on Facebook, said on his radio show yesterday that he was "giddy" about outcome.
"People are voting with their feet today," Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, said. "I guess you could also say they are voting with their faces, they are stuffing them with chicken sandwiches, those lovely Chicken sandwiches from Chick-fil-A."
In Fayettville, Ga., CEO Cathy greeted customers waiting in line at the drive-thru and thanked them for their support. One Chick-fil-A goer tweeted this photo of Cathy:
The CEO has not spoken publically or agreed to any more interviews following the backlash over comments he made to the Baptist Press supporting "the biblical definition of the family unit."
"We are very much supportive of the family," Cathy said. "We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives."
After an outpouring of support for Cathy and his company during Wednesday's Appreciation Day, gay activists are taking to the streets, or rather the Chick-fil-A parking lots, around the country for National Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A on Friday to protest the chicken chain's opposition to the LGBTQ community.
Same-sex couples are being urged to take photos and videos of themselves kissing outside of Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide.
About 11,000 have said on Facebook that they will attend the event. The Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day event had about 55 times that many Facebook attendees.
Although the restaurant chain has become a rallying cry for people on both sides of the marriage debate, Chick-fil-A has aimed to stay out of the politics and controversy stemming from its CEO's comments.
"The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect –regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender," Robinson said in a statement. "We understand from news reports that Friday may present yet another opportunity for us to serve with genuine hospitality, superior service and great food."