accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Jeff Foxworthy, Diana DeGarmo, Michael W. Smith to appear at Chick-fil-A founder’s fete

Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy is a fun-loving guy who acts more like a kid than a 90-year-old. His son Dan Cathy, shown here with his dad in a 2008 AJC file photo, said it's been hard keeping details of tonight's birthday bash secret. Photo by Andy Sharp.

Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy is a fun-loving guy who acts more like a kid than a 90-year-old. His son Dan Cathy, shown here with his dad in a 2008 AJC file photo, said it's been hard keeping details of tonight's birthday bash secret. Photo by Andy Sharp.

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy, Christian artist Michael W. Smith and American Idol alum turned Broadway star Diana DeGarmo all will be on hand tonight for Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy’s 90th birthday bash.

Developer Tom Cousins and former Mayor Andrew Young are chairing the event.

The host committee includes Mayor Kasim Reed, Home Depot CEO Frank Blake and Home Depot founders, Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Georgia Aquarium founder Bernie Marcus, business mogul Herman Russell, former Kennesaw State University president Betty Siegel and numerous other prominent persons.

The Cathy family has struggled to keep details secret from their patriarch, said his son, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy. “He kind of pulls my chain on this a little bit,” Cathy told us during an interview this morning.

“He kept insisting on knowing who was invited. We finally had to succumb to his authority.” The evening, which will feature the Atlanta Symphony Gospel Choir, will be “a time of celebration, a time of inspiration a time of thanksgiving for God’s incredible blessings,” said Cathy, noting it’s hard to believe his dad is 90. ”He doesn’t act like a 90-year-old. He acts like a kid. He likes to have fun. He likes to joke and kid with people. I’m sure he’s going to have a wise crack or two.”

In the photo at the right, the two of them are shown getting ready for a “Cow Appreciation Day” event.

On a serious note, though, Cathy said his famous father has led his successful empire with a servant’s heart.

“He’s just lived a life of integrity, a life of consistency,” he said. “It’s nothing he achieved by going to an MBA school. This is a guy who started out flipping hamburgers as a 25-year-old.”

Given Chick-fil-A’s seemingly limitless success, we asked if the corporation had been taken aback when protesters complained after a store in Pennsylvania supplied food to an event sponsored by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which has worked to defeat gay marriage initiatives.

“Just because we served some sandwiches at a church doesn’t mean we’re against a particular group,” Cathy said. “There’s a lot hurting people out there. We have the whole spectrum of society sitting in our dining room. We have to train our people to have a keen sensitivity to each person who’s there. We feel like God’s called us to serve these people. Life has so much friction that’s out there. We hope we can be an oasis.”

A musician as well as a businessman, Dan Cathy will perform “Amazing Grace” on the trumpet tonight. “It’s a song that’s meant so much to our family,” he said. “We hope the evening will conclude on a very reverent moment of worship. God needs to be the focus of everything we do.”

- Jennifer Brett/The Buzz/jbrett@ajc.com

53 comments Add your comment

Happy Birthday, Mr. Cathy!

March 10th, 2011
2:55 pm

Happy Birthday, Mr. Cathy!

Thank you for establishing a clean, friendly, inviting chain of restaurants that doesn’t cater to thugs and degenerates where we can take our friends and loved ones for a nice chicken meal.

Lisa

March 10th, 2011
3:00 pm

Happy B’day Cathy you are a very blessed man and God’s blessing has been on you and your family all these years. Hope you have a wonderful evening with family and friends.

Shirley P

March 10th, 2011
3:05 pm

I hope Mr. Cathy has a wonderful birthday with many more to come! Chik-Fil-A and the Cathy Family are true jewels for Georgia.

Jeff

March 10th, 2011
3:12 pm

Congratulations, Mr. Cathy — you are an outstanding example of virtue, character, integrity, and hard work. You are very much loved and appreciated by hundreds of thousands of people. Many people (including me) received some college scholarship money from you many years ago, and we continue to be grateful for the generosity of your company, which helped us get a college education.

Thank you for basing your successful, quality company right here in Atlanta — you’re a great example to people in all walks of life, and we wish you and your family the best. Happy Birthday, Truett!

fundad

March 10th, 2011
3:21 pm

Congratulations Mr. Cathy. Your restaraunts ROCK!. The food, people, facilities are all first class. I just wish that more businesses/people ran their businesses the way you do.

Father of 5

March 10th, 2011
3:26 pm

Sounds like a great celebration of life, a fitting honor for a man who honors his Father.

Debbie Bennett

March 10th, 2011
4:02 pm

Thank you for having the most pleasurable restaurant to eat in. The workers are top notch, but the owner “you” are the absolute best. You have set a wonderful example in all that you do, for others to follow. May your birthday be the best ever and may God continue to bless you and your family in all that you do. We love you!

Jason

March 10th, 2011
4:30 pm

Congratulations for supporting anti-gay rights. You mean everything to the youth of America…..

Motocross Survivor

March 10th, 2011
4:35 pm

I don’t get the allure of Chic fil A. I’ve only eaten there a couple of times. Last time, I had a gift certificate for there else I wouldn’t have been there. The counter help shortchanged me with the credit, and the food was extremely ordinary, as were the prices. Another thing is that during Christmas, there was a very strange lack of the word CHRISTMAS anywhere associated with the chain. Very odd, considering the image they try to otherwise project. I continue to see no reason whatever for eating at any of the places.

Motocross Survivor

March 10th, 2011
4:35 pm

BTW, I ain’t gay.

Summit Dawg

March 10th, 2011
4:38 pm

Happy Birthday, Mr. Cathy! May God continue to bless you and your family!!

wdm

March 10th, 2011
4:45 pm

Is it just me or does it seem slightly idiotic to annouce on a public website that the party tonight is a secret? Great job AJC on keeping your mouths shut and ruining the surprise. No wonder the AJC just keeps sliding down the gutter.

braddawg

March 10th, 2011
4:46 pm

Well, It ain’t a secret any more! Thanks for the chicken Mr. Cathy and I love them Cows!

abele

March 10th, 2011
4:48 pm

Happy Birthday Mr Cathy and many more.

But please take the MSG out of your food.

Liz

March 10th, 2011
4:51 pm

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. CATHY! Hope you have a very blessed one and many more!

Tony

March 10th, 2011
4:53 pm

I love Chick Fil A. Their Food is great, the people are extremely nice and courteous, and every Chick Fil A is clean as can be.

craig

March 10th, 2011
4:54 pm

I know he’s 90 but come on – having a “secret party tonight” displaying on the home page- isn’t the per-verbal chicken out of the bag now?

Grandmother

March 10th, 2011
4:54 pm

Happiest of birthdays, Mr Cathy. Love your restaurant and your values. Especially love the new vegetables that are offered. I’ll certainly do my part in keeping Chick-fil-A in business.

Really?

March 10th, 2011
4:54 pm

WOW Congratulation…. Great food, nice enough employees bad politics. Food and political movements don’t mix.

Carrie

March 10th, 2011
4:59 pm

A Very Happy Birthday to You!! Thank you for leading by example – putting Christ first has shown us that success will follow. Have Fun Tonight!!

Bad Politics?

March 10th, 2011
5:05 pm

There is nothing that is bad politics about what Chick-fil-a has been involved in during recent months. The group attacked Chick-fil-a for catering an event, just like any other business would do if asked. There is nothing political about that and it is not Chick-fil-a’s fault that this group has brought politics into the food industry.

Mary Corbett

March 10th, 2011
5:05 pm

Mr. Cathy, I hope you have a wonderful birthday party. When I was a little girl back in the 1950’s, my Dad, Cecil Boyette, and I ate at the Dwarf House on Lee St. often. (Forgive me if I have the name wrong). You were always so friendly. I remember your children would sing for the customers and Daddy and I loved that. I’d give anything to see you again. If there’s any way, would you please let me know? I live in Cartersville, Ga.

kinnesse

March 10th, 2011
5:07 pm

the billboards are the funniest. Keep them coming

C David

March 10th, 2011
5:08 pm

Happy B-Day Mr. Cathy. I find it so amazing to see that GOD has blessed you to see and enjoy your 90th birthday. Every employee should be so greatful to have such a terrific owner like you…continue to laugh, love and stay in perfect peace….GOD Bless You!

sman

March 10th, 2011
5:09 pm

Happy Birthday Mr. Cathy – Now please bring back the Peach Milkshake!!

RL

March 10th, 2011
5:10 pm

I have read your biography, Truett Cathy. You are an inspiration to all of us. Happy Birthday!

george orwell

March 10th, 2011
5:11 pm

Thanks for being a close-minded religious nut infusing your corporate messaging with the Orwellian Christian-speak of the new right.

Matt

March 10th, 2011
5:11 pm

Wow. 90 years old. He better make sure that in his will, he makes sure that the company goes public. Otherwise, I’ll be able to get a decent chicken sandwich on Sunday. That would be un-Godly.

Buddy Truitt

March 10th, 2011
5:26 pm

Back around 1975/1976 my wife and I had the pleasure of taking a tour to Europe as part of a group that included Truett and Mrs. Cathy . They were a unpretentious and friendly couple that blended right in with the group. What wonderful people they were and still are.
Happy Birthday Truett , the world is such a better place because of all you have done .

kelsey

March 10th, 2011
5:28 pm

I sure hope he isn’t checking the AJC app on his iPhone before the big reveal

Luv the Cowz!!

March 10th, 2011
5:35 pm

Soundz like a great time. I’m sure all the fake-righteous Christian homophobes and bigots will have a great time. Wish I could be there! Go Braves!

Walk with the Father

March 10th, 2011
5:44 pm

I am so proud of what Mr. Cathy stands for. I love his restaurants and the way he honors the Lord by closing on Sundays. My wife loves his sandwiches so much, she had them cater our wedding reception. Of course, she weighs 280 pounds and reads on a 4th grade level, but at least she knows the Bible talks about Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!!! Go Braves!!

Innocent Bystander

March 10th, 2011
5:45 pm

I might go get some Chick-Fil-A for dinner tonight just to celebrate. Congrats, Mr. Cathy! Thanks for making CFA such a great restaurant.

Ohio Muffin

March 10th, 2011
5:48 pm

Thank you for keeping GOD as the focus of your success.

RK

March 10th, 2011
6:01 pm

wdm

March 10th, 2011
4:45 pm
“Is it just me or does it seem slightly idiotic to annouce on a public website that the party tonight is a secret? Great job AJC on keeping your mouths shut and ruining the surprise. No wonder the AJC just keeps sliding down the gutter.”

Not to be cruel, but even if Mr. Cathy a) accessed the internet, b) knew how to logon to a blog, and c) even read about his party . . . he probably would have forgotten about it by the evening. I think the secret is safe!

RT Bird

March 10th, 2011
6:01 pm

God has blessed the Cathy family, and I feel loved every time I visit Chick-Fil-A. I am 52 years old, but I feel like a kid every time I go there.

Rachel Grimes

March 10th, 2011
6:07 pm

Happy birthday, Mr. Cathy! You and your family have blessed and enriched our family with Camp Winshape and its tremendous ministry into the hearts and lives of our children. Your children may be with you tonight, but don’t forget that your Winshape Family is with you in spirit!

captain crunch

March 10th, 2011
6:09 pm

You know its really ashamed that some people just can’t appreciate a good chicken sandwich. Its also ashamed that some clowns can’t respect someone who puts God first in their lives and business. What a bunch of smucks

Chick -fi- Later

March 10th, 2011
6:10 pm

Keep your bland chicken sandwich, cooked with christian goodness but still full of hate.

Sally Washburn Hamby

March 10th, 2011
6:14 pm

Happy Birthday to you!! My Daddy, Tommy Washburn loved your food back in 1950 and 1960’s when he work across the street at Ford. Now one of his Grandson has two stores in Florida. All of us love the Dwarf and at least one of our family is eating there every day–I think.

Have a wonderful evening!

Hillbilly girl

March 10th, 2011
6:19 pm

Happy Birthday, Mr. Cathy! Thanks for setting a great example of Christian work ethics & business principles. I read your book…and try to implement the same for my employees daily. For all of the mean-spirited people who don’t understand, I pray one day soon your eyes & heart see the purpose. Of course you’re probably the same people who think it’s ok to pull out in front of people because you see the sign stating “right on red.” Heaven help us!

David

March 10th, 2011
6:20 pm

To all the libs out there…if you don’t like Chickfila…..go eat a bad weiner !

KSundy

March 10th, 2011
6:23 pm

Happy Birthday Mr. Cathy! I love Chick-fil-A and attribute meeting my husband to it! I went to college on a Chick-fil-A scholarship and have fully paid back my scholarship since then! I hope tonight is great. As with any event that Chick-fil-A does – I’m sure tonight will be spectacular. It is my pleasure to write this! :-)

chris

March 10th, 2011
6:25 pm

I eat there from time to time but I don’t get the cult like following. Its just a fast food restaurant.

YoungerThan ThatNow

March 10th, 2011
6:26 pm

Trying to be a little open minded here, I try to understand how some might not particularly like the food Mr. Cathy serves at his restaurants, or how you might not agree with Mr. Cathy’s personal beliefs and his efforts to incorporate them into HIS business. What I can’t understand is how anyone can disrespect a man who is celebrating his 90th birthday! Didn’t your mom’s teach you to respect your elders?!?

Personally, I love the restaurants, love the food and have a world of respect and admiration for Truett Cathy! I had the pleasure of shaking his hand and speaking to him one day after he spoke at a men’s breakfast meeting… a true humble servant of our Lord. God bless you Mr. Cathy, and I hope you have many more birthdays!

chris

March 10th, 2011
6:27 pm

I really hate their misspelled ads. Horrible example for the kids.

March Hare

March 10th, 2011
6:35 pm

Happy Birthday, Truett!!!! Your commitment to your beliefs, even though it costs you a lot of money every year is a true example of putting your money where your mouth is. And your sandwiches are an example of making a quality product will draw customers. Many happy returns.

Dale in Acworth

March 10th, 2011
7:27 pm

I’ve been eating my momma’s chicken ever since I can remember. It used to be sweet, but now it’s salty and dry. I am just like Mr. Cathy in a lot of ways. I always put the Lord first, and I never let gays work for my company. I guess that’s what being a great american Christian is all about after all.

rob

March 10th, 2011
8:14 pm

My dad is going to the b-day party.

Debbie Groninger Heard

March 10th, 2011
9:47 pm

Happy Happy Birthday Truett! Love CFA. Your values and ethics have built a strong company and a lasting legacy.Have a wonderful celebration.