By Tom Blumer | Special to Ohio Watchdog
On Wednesday at about 1:30 p.m., I was driving south on Mason-Montgomery Road in Warren County northeast of Cincinnati, when I ran into a short but unexpected holdup. A line of cars were turning right onto a street leading to a nursery, a fairly large office building and a hotel. I wondered what could be going on at any of those places to cause the bumper-to-bumper backup.
About a half-mile later, I said to myself, “No, that was the drive-through line for the Chick-fil-A.” For that to be the case, there had to be at least a couple of dozen cars in that line.
Chick-fil-A, the privately held fast-food chain based in Atlanta, has 40 locations in Ohio.
All indications are that those Ohio stores had a banner day Wednesday, as a result of Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor, suggested this national campaign on his on his Facebook page on July 23. The company itself did nothing to promote the campaign.
In an interview with K. Allen Bloom at the Baptist Press posted in mid-July, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy said:
“Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. ‘Well, guilty as charged,’ said Cathy when asked about the company’s position.
‘We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
‘We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,’ Cathy emphasized.”
Cathy’s supposedly controversial statements led Boston Mayor Tom Menino to promise that “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong” in his city, and that “it will be very difficult” for the company to get the licenses needed to operate in his city. Menino later backed away from the threats, but not his opposition.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel contended that the company’s values are not consistent with “Chicago values.”
Perhaps not, but, as Huckabee had hoped, Wednesday brought forth a great deal of evidence that Chick-fil-A’s values are quite consistent with those of many other Americans, including those in Ohio.
Pictures taken Wednesday at the Clermont County location supplied by a friend (here, here, and here) show dozens of people outside waiting just to get into the store as well as a long drive-through line.
A few of the many Ohio-based media outlets provided these reports:
- NewsNet5.com in Cleveland: “Hundreds flocked to Chick-fil-A restaurants across northeast Ohio Wednesday;”
- Toledo Blade: “Hundreds wait hours to support Chick-Fil-A’s poultry and politics;”
- Columbus Dispatch: “Political issues present tricky business;”
- Cincinnati Enquirer: “Gay rights controversy spurs long lines at Chick-fil-A.”
Late Wednesday, California pastor Rick Warren, based on a phone conversation he says he had with Cathy, tweeted, that the chain “has already set a world record today, with 7 more hrs to go in the West.”
The turnout appears to have been as much about protecting free speech as it was about traditional values. One woman who said she’s normally a vegetarian told the Enquirer at the chain’s West Chester store that she was “eating chicken today,” and tit is Cathy’s “right as a business owner to express his opinion.”