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People Still Value Chick-Fil-A's Service Above All Other Chains

But has its anti-LGBTQ marriage stance been forgotten?

Some people are sticklers for top-notch service while others just want to dig into their food. But while a bad service experience can certainly ruin a special night out at a restaurant, most people who get fast-food do not go into it expecting the service to be the part that they remember.

In fact, large chains are increasingly working to get customers in and out quicker through features like drive-thru lanes and curbside pickup. Chains from McDonald's  (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report to Yum! Brands  (YUM) - Get Yum! Brands Inc. Report-owned KFC have all invested heavily in this side of their business over the last year.

"A fast-food or quick-service restaurant provides the quickest service and food at the cheapest prices," Rose Johnston wrote for the Houston Chronicle. "[...] Fast-food restaurants often include a place to dine, while some may possess only drive-through or walk-up windows for customers to order and pick up food."

Which Fast-Food Chains Do Customers Praise For Their Service?

And yet, some fast-food chains clearly stick out in the minds of those who eat there for their service. 73% of customers rated Chick-Fil-A as having top service, the annual Firefly 500 report from data insights firm Datassential found.

Cheesecake Factory  (CAKE) - Get The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated Report was close behind at 70% while Texas Roadhouse  (TXRH) - Get Texas Roadhouse Inc. Report, In-N-Out Burger and LongHorn Steakhouse also landed in the top five chains.

"These chains were able to maintain top tier service in consumers' minds, despite labor challenges and the many COVID regulations and setbacks," a spokesperson for Datassential said in a statement.

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After landing on the lower side when it comes to service the previous year, Jet's Pizza, Cinnabon, and Dairy Queen improved by a respective 9% and 8% in 2021.

Chick-Fil-A's Conservative History

Recent research from brand strategy agency also found that Chick-Fil-A outpaced Dunkin  (DNKN) - Get Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc. Report and McDonald's when it comes to having the most loyal fans.

Founded out of Atlanta in 1946, Chick-Fil-A is known both for fried chicken and for its conservative and Christian values -- unlike almost every major fast-food chain across the world, all of its locations remain closed on Sundays.

The chain also became the subject of a nationwide media firestorm when, in 2012, Dan T. Cathy made a number of comments against LGBTQ people and marriage. While this spurred both condemnation and support (former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared Aug. 1 "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" in response), the controversy largely left the public eye in the years to come. 

The chain eventually announced that it would stop donating to organizations opposing same-sex marriage. While some of Chick-Fil-A's biggest fans specifically sought it out for its conservative stance (and protested in response), others claim to have "disconnected" from politics and that it's only the "old-style" politeness that they find attractive.

"Little things like being told 'please' and 'thank you' -- it feels like you're appreciated as a customer and a human being at Chick-fil-A," restaurant business analyst Mark Kalinowski told Business Insider in 2019. "And especially in today's very complex world, it's just very nice to be able to go to a place where you feel appreciated."