S. Truett Cathy, founder of the iconic privately held QSR chain Chick-Fil-A, has died early Monday morning at the age of 93. According to a Chick-Fil-A spokesperson, Cathy died at his home surrounded by family.
Cathy got his start in the restaurant business in 1946, opening diner The Dwarf Grill with his brother Ben in their hometown of Atlanta, Georgia following his duty in the U.S. Army. It was there that Cathy started perfecting the “chicken steak sandwich” that would become his trademark. In 1967, Cathy opened the first Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Atlanta at the Greenbriar Mall. Since then, that one restaurant has expanded into a $5 billion dollar business with more than 1,700 locations throughout the United States.
Cathy was a religious man, best encapsulated by Chick-Fil-A’s adherence to staying closed on Sundays. These convictions also courted political controversy over the years, especially after son Dan T. Cathy made divisive statements about marriage equality during an interview with The Baptist Press in 2012. But since the younger Cathy took the reins of CEO in 2013, Chick-Fil-A has been working to reverse that divisiveness and foster a more inclusive atmosphere. In light of this, Chick-Fil-A has been enjoying a resurgence – as of this year, it surpassed even KFC as the fastest growing chicken QSR chain.
According to a press release by Chick-Fil-A this morning, Cathy is survived by Jeannette McNeil Cathy, his wife of 65 years; sons Dan and Don “Bubba” Cathy; daughter Trudy Cathy White; 19 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the Cathy family requests that donations be made to the WinShape Foundation. Founded by Truett in 1984, the foundation aims to help young people succeed by funding scholarships and other youth-support programs. Donations can be sent to:
5200 Buffington Road
Atlanta, GA, 30349
The Associated Press reports that a public funeral service is being planned for Wednesday at 2PM at First Baptist Jonesboro in Jonesboro, GA.