What began with a single restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, Chick-fil-A now operates over 1,700 locations in 38 states and the District of Columbia. The company’s culture has long been influenced by the founder and his family’s strong Southern Baptist beliefs. To this day, the company still shutters its businesses on Sundays, but it was Dan Cathy’s (Truett’s son and CEO) remarks in 2012 in opposition to gay marriage that brought the company’s culture to the forefront of the political discussion.

Chick-fil-A S. Truett Cathy

Chick-fil-A Founder’s Anti-gay marriage remarks

Among other things, Cathy said, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” adding “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

The remarks at the time sparked both protests of outrage and support nationwide with politicians like Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and Fox News host, calling for a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” after he grew tired of “vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry” aimed at Chick-fil-A.

Politics aside, though for many its not that simple, the company clearly has well loved chicken sandwiches and despite of being closed on Sundays, surpassed KFC in sales as a result of the rapid growth the company has demonstrated in recent years. In 2000, the company first reached a billion in sales while 2009 saw Chick-fil-A post sales of $3 billion. Sales have grown by $1 billion every two years since to 2013.

Cows say “eat chicken”

The company has enjoyed tremendous success with a marketing campaign it launched in 1995 that shows cows conspiring to promote chicken consumption that continues to this day. In addition to encouraging employees to courteously use the expression “My pleasure!” in dealing with customers, the chain also came to prominence by embracing the self-contained shopping mall when they started going up all over the United States.

Cathy’s death was announced by Chick-fil-A, which said in a statement, “He died peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones.”

Chick-fil-A’s sales numbers suggest that the company will continue to thrive without its founder.