A special message from one of our partners, Jonathan Lighty, Owner and Operator of Chick-fil-A Willo
We are living in a time of great uncertainty. The last 2-3 weeks has seemed like 2-3 months. Schools are canceled, many businesses have had to close and people are staying at home seemingly drowning in fear and stress. Tensions are high and people are scared. However, I also know and see the resilience in our citizens. People and businesses are donating, giving, and working together to fight this battle.
Ironically, people are coming together against this pandemic by social distancing. Our country has overcome many challenges and this is another one that will make us stronger. Small and medium businesses are the backbone of this country. Many might be wondering why any business is open during this time. As a father, I embrace the responsibility to provide for my family. As a small business owner, I bear the burden to provide employment to my team members who count on me for their income. And as a citizen, I share in the effort to serve our community.
As a Chick-fil-A franchise owner, it is very important to protect both my team members and guests. During this time, it is especially a fine balance that must be handled with care. We started closing our dining rooms and playgrounds across the country before it was mandated. We have reduced our hours and are constantly getting updates from the CDC and state and local authorities. Chick-fil-A already has a great reputation for systems, quality food, service, and cleanliness, but we have become border-line obsessive in recent weeks. My restaurant is considered an essential business and provides food to nearly two thousand people each day. As I think about that term essential, it reminds me of a quote from our founder Truett Cathy, who once said, “Food is essential to life; therefore make it good.” But we also know that any kind of normalcy during a stressful time brings a sense of security. We have guests that dine with us every day; and in the middle of this crisis, we can be a small source of comfort and hope that things will be normal again.
Keeping my restaurant open means nearly 100 team members stay employed and can provide for their families. These team members are an extension of my family and depend on me as their source of income. As long as revenue is coming in and we are allowed to serve, I can provide hours for my team and we will weather this storm together. Lastly, staying open affords us the opportunity to positively impact our community. We are working closely with several non-profit organizations in order to provide free food to those impacted in our area. We are also providing meals to the ICU staff at St. Mary’s Hospital who are on the front lines tirelessly battling this crisis. We also generate tax revenue for our state and federal government to financially assist those who are impacted in worse ways.
Yes, we sell chicken, but at the heart of our business and many others around this country, is a desire to serve others in good times and the bad. Do what you can to support a local business. In doing so, you are providing hope to countless people.