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S. TRUETT CATHY puts his money where his faith is. The 89-year-old founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A, the second largest chicken-based fast-food chain in the United States, has mandated that every Sunday, all of his restaurants be closed to allow staff time to worship. Over the course of a year, the Sunday rule is estimated to cost the business about $500 million in lost income. Yet the company, credited with inventing the first fast-food chicken sandwich, is still very successful, with $2.96 billion in system-wide sales (the reported figure for 2008) and 1,450 restaurants.

Religion is at the key of the family-operated business, says Cathy, whose son, Dan, is the chief operating officer and whose other son, Bubba, is a vice president. According to the family patriarch, "Our decision to close on Sundays was our way of honoring God and directing our attention to things more important than our business." The company's stance on religion is so serious that part of its mission statement states: The purpose of Chick-fil-A is to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A. Cathy has also told Forbes magazine, "The Lord has never spoken to me, but I feel Chick-fil-A has been His gift."

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