It has been a busy year for fast food chain Chick-fil-A. The company announced earlier this year that its 2010 sales jumped 11.4% to more than $3.5 billion and are still going strong, and it's in the process of opening 90 new locations this year. On the downside, it has also been heavily criticized for supporting groups opposed to same-sex marriage.

If you're one of the loyal customers who has powered the chain's growth -- and if you have a cow costume -- Friday was your lucky day. For it's annual Cow Appreciation Day, Chick-fil-A gave away free entrees to customers dressed from head to hoof in cow gear. The company said it expected a turnout of more than half a million for the event this year.

While I was a bit tempted to craft some type of cow costume, there's so much more that I wanted to inquire about, including rising food costs, industry trends and the economy, so I tracked down Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy.

DailyFinance:
Costs for nearly everything are on the rise. How is this affecting Chick-fil-A, and will you eventually have to pass these costs on to consumers?
Dan Cathy:
Whenever we see rising costs in any area, we try to do everything we possibly can to maybe save costs in other areas that don't affect the customer's experience. Even a lot of the international trade areas affect the costs of Chick-fil-A. For instance, we ship a tremendous amount of product overseas to Asia and also to Eastern Europe for dark pieces of chicken, which helps offset the cost of production. So thank goodness there is a strong demand for those other parts of the chicken.

About 80% of the cost of that bird is going to be built into corn prices. So those things do affect us. But as I said, there might be other areas that we could eliminate doing. But the bottom line is that we have to drive the value for the customer -- make sure that they feel that they're getting a really good deal.

So as long as we can maintain our prices, even short term if it's going to cost us some profit margin, then we're willing to forgo that on a short-term basis because many things are fluctuating up and down. But, if those trends are sustained over a longer period of time then we know eventually we're going to have to adjust our prices.

Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays to allow employees to practice their religious faith. Do you ever get concerned about how much revenue you may be losing?
Well that's a question that's often asked: How much money do we lose by being closed on Sunday. On the surface, you'd simply think that Sunday is one of the most popular eating out days of the whole week. So you can kind of make a guesstimate as to how much business we might generate if we were open Sunday. But there are many more underlying elements that are a great benefit that frankly offset the fact that we're closed on Sunday.

We know that it directly affects our customer service because we can rest and be with our families and team members can worship if they so choose. We know even that drives value systems and attitudes of compassion toward others, and hospitality toward others.

What are the chances of Chick-fil-A ever going public?
We feel like it's an extremely expensive cost of capital. And in a business, you want to have the lowest operating costs you possibly can. So there other forms that cost much less like borrowing money through banks and that sort of thing. We've done bank borrowing in the past. However, in the past 11 years now, we've not been borrowing any more money than we'd already established in the 1990s. And in fact, we've been paying it down and we'll be completely debt-free within less than a year.

Some fast food chains have begun to serve alcoholic beverages ranging from wine to beer. Is this something that you'd ever consider?
The only alcohol products that we carry in our restaurants are in our first aid kit. I don't think you'll ever expect to see that on the menu of a Chick-fil-A restaurant. I think the value system that we portray and the wholesome family-friendly atmosphere that we promote and the culture within Chick-fil-A is such that it would never be necessary for us to serve those alcoholic products.

As a businessman, how would you rate the current administration's policies as they related to business?

I think it's an incredibly complex set of issues that our government has had to deal with today as it relates to the economy. I think the recession that we've had for the last two to three years -- on one hand has been incredibly valuable for our economy because it cleaned out a lot of frivolous spending by the consumer sector that was overspending, overextended.

I think we've all been to school now and learned the lessons of what happens when we have ambitions that exceed our ability to pay. I hope federally we learn that same lesson. We're headed for a train wreck here with our federal budget. If we don't get a better grip on our spending, we're going to be as foolish as some of the other countries over in Europe that are facing the consequences of endless spending and thinking that a few are going to be able to pay the excesses of the many.

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falcon38a

I heard their employees are treated well at the stores and at their headquarters. It is refreshing to see a company like Chick-Fil-A with morals. Too bad there are not more companies with their ethics.

July 09 2011 at 6:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
pacmo43

Thank God that some of the authors of these posts are not in charge of anything. Mr. Cathy so far is entitled to his own beliefs and business practices. Our nation was built on entrepreneurship and freedom to run a business the way one wants. If he wants to honor the God on Sundays , it is his right and I applaud him for it. One would think that business owners should be forced adhere to the liberal agenda after reading these hateful spiteful posts. Where is the tolerance for conservative views ?

July 09 2011 at 10:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
wagn4u

uhh.. mr. tbbikerdad - you may want to sharpen that pencil on your coffee profits. I doubt to many people are lining up in your kitchen to buy a cup of your home brewed coffee :-)

July 09 2011 at 10:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tbbikerdad

Biggest point I got from this article IS , HE WILL JUGGLE HIS PROFIT MARGIN , BECAUSE OF COST OF LIVING YO YO . ....COST OF LIVING HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS . FORIEGN NATIONS ECONOMY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH AMERICAN COST OF LIVING . AMERICAN COMMERCE SAYS IT DOES , SO WE ACCEPT IT . ...AMERICAN COST OF LIVING IS PURELY AMERICAN POLITICS . GAS PRICE AT THE PUMP IS NOTHING BUT POLITICS . ... O P E C DOES NOT NOT SET THE PRICE AMERICA PAYS FOR FUEL ..IT IS MOSTLY TAXES .. IT IS ALL AMERICAN COMMERCE DEPARTMENT POLITICS .....NOTHING ELSE . ...CHIK - FIL - A , DOES NOT '' LOOSE '' ANY MONEY . IT IS A LOST PROFIT REVENUE TAX DEDUCTION . IT IS ONE OF THE PERKS , GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING OFFICE PROVIDES FOR BUSINESS . ............... AMERICAN COST OF LIVING IS ALL PURELY POLITICS ....NOTHING ELSE . THERE IS A SIMPLE SOLUTION TO AMERICAN ECONOMY ....... YOU ARE WEARING IT ..... MY UNDERWEAR IS MADE IS VEITNAM ..................WHAT IS SO HARD ABOUT THAT . ...WE HAVE HAD THE TECHNOLOGY FOR DECADES TO GET 5 0 TO 7 5 MILES TO A GALLON OF GAS .... IT IS NOT ABOUT THE ENGINE . ..... OUR TOP KILLERS IN DISEASE SHOULD HAVE BEEN CURED DECADES AGO . WORLD HEALTH ASSOCIATION , WHICH AMERICA IS A PART OF , SAYS AMERICA IS OUR OWN PROBLEM IN HEALTH CARE , IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH OBAMA . ..............IT IS ALL ORCHESTRATED POLITICS ....... DO YOUR OWN MATH . IT COST ME $ . 1 0 cents to brew a 1 2 ounce cup of coffee , AT HOME . Restaurants charge one dollar fifty cents for that same brew . My coffee can says on the label it can give me 2 5 0 cups of coffee , which equals around $ 4 0 0 . 0 0 dollars pure profit , for the company . ....THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH AMERICAN ECONOMY EXCEPT AMERICAN COMMERCE DEPARTMENT SAYS THERE IS . .....THERE IS A SIMPLE SOLUTION TO AMERICAN ECONOMY . My name is T i m ..................

July 09 2011 at 9:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
poppydup

i really like this man because he sticks to his beliefs . the bible says homosexualty is asin thank you

July 09 2011 at 12:52 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Susan

Chik Fil A is the best! Had a Chicken Club there today. Would hate to see it open on Sunday; I loved the reasoning behind the founder's reason for being closed on the Sabbath...still do.

July 08 2011 at 10:55 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
rini1946

I not sure if i agree with not open sundays. I understand his point of view and it's his business he can do what he wants.the reason i disagree is that a lot of his workers(just a guess on my part) are students and probly low income people and they could sure use a extra few bucks in thier paychecks.

July 08 2011 at 4:54 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
matthag60

have you noticed what religious faiths is doing to the world right now . you make me sick. what makes you all high an mighty. dumb f#4%$s

July 08 2011 at 3:14 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to matthag60's comment
falcon38a

Matthag60: What makes YOU so high and mighty. Chick-Fil-A is a great company run by good people who have strong faith .. the same that started this country. I applaud this company and your comment about religious faiths is inaccurate.

July 09 2011 at 6:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ycharlesyang

Everyone in US should learn to cook at home. Soon all resturant only the rich able to go.So we can keep our living cost low and get out of debt.

July 08 2011 at 3:05 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Condley

Chick-fil-A will do well as long as they keep their values. They have great marketing. They live and manage their business within their means. This just goes to show you that businesses have a right practice their religious and morale values. They don't follow the crowd. They should be admired for that.

July 08 2011 at 2:54 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply