Crowds pack local Chick-fil-As

Published 2:55 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Caption: Patrons line up outside the Chick-Fil-A in Inverness around lunchtime Aug. 1. (Reporter photo/Nicole Loggins)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Police officers said they have been dealing with “significant” traffic problems at Chick-fil-A restaurants across the county on Aug. 1 during a nationwide customer-organized support day for the restaurant chain.

The support day, publicized by former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, came after same-sex marriage proponents heavily criticized Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy for saying he backs “traditional marriage” in an interview.

Pelham Police Department Lt. Davy Lott said the department received a call shortly before lunchtime requesting police help in directing traffic at the Pelham Chick-fil-A on Alabama 119 in Pelham.

“We’ve still got a few guys out there now,” Lott said at about 1:45 p.m., noting the crowd at the restaurant was creating traffic problems along Alabama 119.

Lott said Chick-fil-A hired two off-duty Pelham officers to help direct traffic at the restaurant throughout the remainder of the day.

“They’ve seen a significant increase in customer traffic today,” Lott said. “It was busy during lunch, and I’m sure it will pick up again later this evening.”

David Taylor, the manager of the Chick-fil-A in Alabaster’s Colonial Promenade shopping center, said the store also saw heavier-than-normal customer traffic Aug. 1.

Some said they chose to support Chick-fil-A because the chain’s CEO shares their moral beliefs.

On Facebook, DonDee Osburn said she and her children went to lunch at the Alabaster location to participate in the support day.

“Made me happy to see people putting money into supporting a business that stands up for the Bible,” she wrote.

Others noted that they waited in line for at least 30 minutes.

At about 11:30 a.m., traffic leading into the Alabaster restaurant stretched to U.S. 31, and had caused congestion on many of the Colonial Promenade’s roads. Parking lots surrounding the restaurant also were quickly filling up.

At the chain’s Inverness location, a line of waiting customers outside nearly encircled the building at about noon. Cars were parked on the grassy median in front of the restaurant.

Amy Jones contributed to this report.