AUSTIN, Texas (Christian Examiner) -- When Chik-fil-A franchise owner Jeff Glover closed his northwest Austin restaurant in March for a five-month renovation he paid all 50 employees throughout the entire period.
The good Samaritan even gave each a $1 per hour raise to stay with him during the transition to double the restaurant's square footage and add a third drive-thru lane.
"I thought to myself, 'I don't want my group to have to forgo their salaries,'" Glover told Austin ABC Afilliate KVUE. "It would be a real financial crisis for the 50 families represented by the workers here to have to go five months without a job."
Manager Norma Baynes said, "I've been here for over a decade, and I can't put into words how much this means." Another employee told the station she was not surprised by Glover's actions. "He is always taking care of us," she said.
Some of Glover's employees transferred to other locations during the renovation, but many anxiously awaited the re-opening of the Austin location.
Glover, who offers employees a starting wage of $11 per hour and plans to hire more workers, described the work his employees do: "This is not an easy job. It's a lot of work."
One reason for Glover's success at what is now the largest Chick-fil-A in Austin may be a strong emphasis on customer service. Fifty-five out of 79 Yelp ratings gave the franchise 4 or 5 stars with customers listing "happy staff," restaurant cleanliness, and fast, accurate, polite service as reasons for their ratings. Some reviewers complained about insufficient notice of closure for renovations.
Glover's generosity also appears to be winning him new customers.
Austin resident Jim O. wrote on Yelp, "Okay I've never eaten here and I'm not that fond of Chick-fil-A. But did you hear what the owner did? He kept his staff on payroll while the place was closed for remodel! Yeah, he continued to pay his staff.
"Now that's enough to get me to stop by next time I'm in the area, but apparently his respect for his employees spills over into how they treat the customers! Apparently SERVICE is an important word at this fast food place. You heard me. I said SERVICE and FAST FOOD in the same sentence," Jim O. continued.
Chik-fil-A averaged more sales per restaurant than any other fast-food chain in the nation in 2014 including McDonald's and Burger King according to a QSR Magazine report.
This occurred in spite of its corporate policy of closing on Sundays – a policy the company says is part of its "recipe for success" – and negative publicity in 2012 surrounding CEO Dan Cathy's public comments in support of a biblical definition of family.
The QSR report also stated Chik-fil-A's 2014 sales grew by $700 million making it larger than all pizza brands in the nation.
Austin residents are just happy to have their local franchise back.
"It's been like torture these past five months to not have a Chick-fil-A in the area," said longtime customer Suzanne Joseph whose two children are employed at Glover's restaurant.