MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Whether they love the chicken or not, thousands across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee are flocking to Chick-fil-A to show their appreciation to the fast-food chain.
In a statement by Executive Vice President of Marketing Steve Robinson on the restaurant's website, he explains that, "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was not created by Chick-fil-A. We appreciate all of our customers and are glad to serve them at any time."
In fact, former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee began the nationwide movement last week, creating a Facebook event to invite supporters of free speech to stop by Chick-fil-A for a meal and support the business after president and CEO Dan Cathy spoke out in favor of traditional marriage.
All day Wednesday, Huckabee had posted photos from various Chick-fil-A restaurants boosting large crowds, updating his Facebook followers on the event's success.
That success was not scarce in the Grand Strand.
The Skycam at WMBF News has been pointed at the Myrtle Beach Chick-fil-A on Mr. Joe White Avenue most of the day, where the drive-thru line has been wrapped around the building. Hopeful diners have parked as far away Pier One Imports and Office Depot in hopes of walking out with a chicken sandwich in hand.
WMBF News Reporter Stephanie Robusto stopped by the Conway Chick-fil-A Wednesday morning, and the place was packed. The drive-thru was looped around the restaurant twice, tables were full, and cars were parked in overflow.
Lots of Chick-fil-A customers came up to Stephanie, some saying how they come there all the time, but how they made it a point to come out Wednesday.
Several phone calls came into the newsroom from almost every Chick-fil-A, including North Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Surfside Beach and Myrtle Beach where diners said they were waiting in line, but didn't mind the wait.
The crowd at the North Myrtle Beach Chick-fil-A even caused a traffic delay in the area.
Employees at the Chick-fil-A in Conway handed this statement to our reporter, from their Executive Vice President of Marketing Steve Robinson:
Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.
The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their race, gender, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent owner/operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same sex marriage to the government and political arena.
Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
WMBF News Facebook fans are speaking out, tells us how they feel about the outpouring of support for Chick-fil-A.
Lekysha Jones says, "We have freedom of speech, but the world is boycotting this franchise, because of the owner's beliefs. Its his opinion, he is entitled to it."
"Chick-fil-A rocks! They have an opinion.....but it does not = the liberal opinion. Oops, that happens :-)," dotes Mary Bennies.
GLADD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. is organizing its own event called National Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick-Fil-A, asking couples to take a photo of themselves locking lips outside their local chicken joint.
They are also asking people to skip the sandwich and donate the cost of a meal to support equality.