With the world’s largest airport in a chaotic and unprecedented blackout, Chick-fil-A broke its Never On Sundays policy, not for the first time and probably not the last.
The Atlanta-based restaurant chain, committed since its founding to a six-day work week, made, delivered and donated 5,302 sandwiches to stranded travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson on Sunday.
At the time, the electricity was off at the airport, tens of thousands of people had no place to go, and most of the hundreds of eating establishments were unable to function.
“The mayor called about 10 p.m. and asked for assistance,” said Jackie Jags, spokeswoman for the company. “We immediately mobilized operators, staff and team members who live and work near the airport.”
Those employees began making sandwiches by hand and bringing them to the emergency operations center at the largely-darkened airport. City and airport officials distributed the sandwiches.
The Chick-fil-A rule against Sunday openings is rare among American businesses, especially restaurants. It has its origins in the firmly Christian practices of the founders and the desire to encourage church-going and worship.
And it has been continued, officials say, as a way to make sure all employees have the day off for family or church.
However, that rule has been broken before in order to serve a purpose – and that principle overrides the rule, Jags said.
“While Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sunday, our restaurants open occasionally to serve communities in crisis,” she said. “We do not make a profit, but do what we can to offer comfort to people experiencing hardship.”
After the 2016 mass shooting in Orlando, Chick-fil-A employees provided free food to people donating blood for victims, as well as food and drink to law enforcement officials.
After a 2015 tornado in Texas, some Chick-fil-A restaurants opened to serve first responders and victims of the storm, which hit near Dallas.