Chick-fil-A is dedicated to keeping its 2,000 stores closed on Sundays, a testament to its founder's religious beliefs. We finally found out this weekend what it takes to make them break that self-imposed rule.

First, how dedicated are they? So dedicated that while there's a Chick-fil-A in the football stadium where the NFL's Atlanta Falcons play--almost always on Sundays, of course--the Chick-Fil-A there still doesn't open

But then came the Great Atlanta Airport Blackout of 2017.

You've probably heard that the world's busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson international airport, lost 100 percent of its electricity over the weekend, leaving thousands of passengers stuck, and leading to the cancelation of more than 1,100 flights around the country.

This also meant there was almost no food available at the airport (and for that matter, a shortage of working toilets and water fountains, since many of them needed electricity to function correctly). 

I'm not sure if it quite qualifies as an "act of God," for insurance purposes, but it's least an act of calamity. Dire conditions loomed, and Atlanta started bussing stranded passengers to the city's convention center.

And, who leaped into action and started feeding thousands of them, on a Sunday morning no less? You guessed it.

"LIGHTS ON and delivering food and water to our passengers! Thank you @dancathy with @ChickfilA for opening on a SUNDAY!" the airport tweeted Sunday night. The city's mayor later credited the fast food franchise with delivering more than 2,000 meals.

Dan Cathy, cited in the airport's tweet, is the son of founder, S. Truett Cathy, who launched the restaurant's precursor in 1946 and renamed it Chick-fil-A in the 1960s. It was Truett Cathy's Southern Baptist religion that led him to close its locations on all Sundays, plus every Thanksgiving and Christmas.  

"I was not so committed to financial success that I was willing to abandon my principles and priorities," the elder Cathy once said, adding. "Our decision to close on Sunday was our way of honoring God and of directing our attention to things that mattered more than our business."

It's not clear yet whether the airport was charging either passengers or the airport itself for meals, or simply giving them away.

If it's an act of charity, it might put a little asterisk next to the idea that they opened "for business"--but I don't think many people will be complaining. I've asked the company for clarification on that point, and we'll update this if we hear back.

Published on: Dec 18, 2017
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