Chick-fil-A Is a Private Company, No Plans to Go Public

Chick-fil-A is a privately held fast-food chicken company. Does the company have any plans to go public or will is stay private?

Kathryn Underwood - Author

Jan. 21 2021, Published 11:14 a.m. ET

Chic-fil-A has prospered as a private company.
Source: Getty Images

Fried chicken and a friendly atmosphere are what fans have come to love and appreciate about Chick-fil-A. The restaurant chain has around 2,470 locations in the U.S. and its sales have tripled in the past ten years. However, Chick-fil-A isn't a publicly-traded company in the restaurant industry.

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By focusing on a narrow business model, selling mainly chicken and waffle fries, Chick-fil-A has become one of the best companies in the industry. Even with a much smaller number of restaurants than its competitors, and only being open six days per week, Chick-fil-A is the third-largest restaurant chain in the U.S. by sales. 

chick fil a food
Source: Chick-fil-A Facebook
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Cathy family owns Chick-fil-A

The popular fast-food chicken restaurant chain is owned by the Cathy family. The company’s original founder, S. Truett Cathy, started in the restaurant business in 1946 with a diner called The Dwarf Grill. In 1967, he opened the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Atlanta. The chain has grown to over 2,400 restaurants in all but three states. 

Why Chick-fil-A restaurants are popular

Chick-fil-A restaurants have prospered by making signature fried chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. The company also promotes a family atmosphere. Cathy said that he wasn’t in the chicken business, but the people business.  

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The chicken at Chick-fil-A is often credited with making chicken popular in American fast-food restaurants. The company's famous tagline, “Eat mor chikin,” started in 1995. The tagline is shown with cows who are attempting to reform customers' preference for beef.  

Chick-fil-A has come under fire for its longtime financial support of anti-LGBTQ groups. The company had a famous “chicken sandwich war” over Twitter in 2019 with Popeye’s, which operates under Restaurant Brands International

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Cathy and his family made it a company policy to keep restaurants closed on Sundays to promote employee well-being and giving them the chance for rest, family, and worship. The company website says it has given over $35 million in college scholarships to employees since 1973. 

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Chick-fil-A is known as a leader in employee politeness. According to a 2016 survey comparing the company to 15 other fast-food chains, Chick-fil-A employees were most likely to say “please” and “thank you” to customers.  

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chick fil a covid
Source: Chick-fil-A Facebook

Chick-fil-A isn't a publicly-traded company

Chick-fil-A is a privately held company, which is disappointing for investors. The company doesn't have any plans to become publicly traded. Cathy had his three children sign legal documentation prior to his death in 2014. They promised to keep the company private. However, they are allowed to sell the company. 

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Chick-fil-A restaurants make more revenue per location than any other national fast-food restaurant chain. The Motley Fool noted that Chick-fil-A hit $11.3 billion in revenue in 2019 with average per-restaurant revenue of $4.6 million. The company's seamless drive-thru and carryout business kept it competitive despite restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.  

Don't expect an IPO from Chick-fil-A

Experts don't think that Chick-fil-A will ever go public with a traditional IPO or a SPAC. Since the company’s founder was so focused on Christian values, it would make it difficult for Chick-fil-A to continue to adhere to those standards if it went public.  

Although the three heirs to the Chick-fil-A company signed a contract to keep the company private, if they sold the company, the buyer could take it public.  


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