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Reflecting on his 55 years in the restaurant business, the 80-year-old Cathy says he never thought that his family-owned business would evolve into a chain that encompasses 1,000 restaurants, achieves more than $1 billion in sales annually, and employs more than 30,000 restaurant employees. "I never knew that tinkering with a recipe for a chicken sandwich would eventually lead to this much success," said Cathy. "This milestone is a reflection of the hard work and commitment of our restaurant Operators and their employees."
To sustain its success, Chick-fil-A is considering a number of strategic expansion opportunities outside the Sunbelt region, where the chain currently has the strongest concentration of restaurants. During the past three years the chain has focused on strengthening its presence in the Northeast, primarily in Maryland and northern Virginia/D.C areas.
Since 1999, Chick-fil-A has opened 19 new restaurants throughout this corridor, and is planning to open additional locations next year. Chick-fil-A also plans to add restaurants in some of its key existing markets outside the Sunbelt, including Indianapolis, Denver, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, Arizona.
Chick-fil-A is also exploring long-term expansion opportunities in new markets, including Chicago, San Diego, and Orange County, California. Currently, Chick-fil-A has limited presence in the western region of the country, with only four locations in California, six in both Arizona and Utah, and one restaurant in Wyoming.
By year-end, Chick-fil-A will have opened some 75 locations since January. In 2002, the chain anticipates opening an additional 77 locations, including 56 free-standing units, six mall locations, and 15 licensed restaurants.