The line of people waiting to go through the drive-through at Statesboro’s Chick-fil-A wrapped around the building twice during the Wednesday lunch rush.
A manager directed traffic as people parked in an adjacent lot because the restaurant’s parking area was full.
Inside, people were packed like sardines as they waited to order some nuggets or a sandwich. It was a madhouse, but no one seemed to care.
The swarm of customers began packing the place Wednesday morning, showing support of company president and CEO Dan Cathy, who made a statement during a recent interview that has the nation divided.
On July 16, Cathy was interviewed by K. Allan Bloom with the Baptist Press and made the following statement: “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.”
According to www.chick-fil-a.com, “While Dan Cathy’s statement does not directly oppose same-sex marriage, his reference to the biblical definition of the family unit has sparked a heated opposition to the company’s assumed position on Gay and Lesbian couples.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared Wednesday as Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, and people across the nation were spurred to either eat at the restaurant that day in support of Cathy’s values or boycott the business in protest of Cathy’s perceived criticism of gay couples.
According to Associated Press reports, “opponents of the company's stance are planning ‘Kiss Mor Chiks’ for Friday, when they are encouraging people of the same sex to show up at Chick-fil-A stores around the country and kiss each other.”
Hank and Sylvia Dutton waited in line to order from the drive-through window. “We believe in marriage between a man and a woman,” Hank Dutton said. “We believe in the old setup.”
James Bradley chose to walk into the packed restaurant, to “show support of the Christian beliefs and enjoy some good food,” he said. “We’ve been here a pretty good while.”
Alaina Lewis stood outside after getting her meal, content to just watch the people. “I like Chick-fil-A, and I’m trying to show my support,” she said. “I don’t think it matters, personal opinions.”
She said she had been there for some time and observed everyone being pleasant. “Nobody is complaining, and these are the nicest people,” Lewis said.
Around lunchtime, although the parking was tight and room inside even tighter, no one appeared to be protesting Chick-fil-A, and everyone was smiling.
“I think it’s nice they took a stand in something they believe in,” Jim Stanoff said.
Assistant manager Jason Raymond steadily directed drivers to the next space in line or helped them find their way out.
He said traffic flowed smoothly and there were no accidents.
He helped Steven Wilcher, who traveled from Effingham County to eat at Chick-fil-A, find a safe spot to wait.
“This is the main reason I came to Statesboro today, to show support for Mr. Dan and his march against same-sex marriages,” he said. “I am just blessed to see the crowd. It shows you how many people we have who are for God and what God stands for.”
The steady flow of traffic waned slightly as the day progressed, but the lines were still long at supper, as many supporters planned to eat all three daily meals at the restaurant.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.