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Chick-fil-A supporters recognize appreciation day

Staff Photo: John Bohn Patrons visit the Chick-fil-A restaurant located at Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road in Suwanee Wednesday around lunch. Today was an unofficial Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day declared by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Patrons visit the Chick-fil-A restaurant located at Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road in Suwanee Wednesday around lunch. Today was an unofficial Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day declared by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

SUWANEE -- During the noon hour on Wednesday, the crowd inside the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road swelled so much it was difficult to open a door to walk inside.

Two cars exiting the parking lot and drive-thru simultaneously nearly collided as they stopped for another vehicle entering the lot.

The line of cars waiting in the drive-thru wrapped around the building and up on the embankment to enter the parking lot. Several customers walking in for the restaurant's signature chicken sandwich and waffle fries parked in adjacent spaces around the Horizon Village Shopping Center.

That kind of scene played out around Gwinnett County and the country as customers showed support of the business after its president recently said in an interview that he supports traditional marriage.

In Braselton, customers parked at a McDonald's next door, while in Loganville, some drive-thru customers waited in line for 45 minutes.

At the Suwanee location, Mark Chestnut said he expected to see some protesters outside the restaurant, but was surprised that there weren't any when he walked in.

"I've always liked Chick-fil-A," said Chestnut, a Suwanee resident. "I think it's noble that they're standing up for what they believe in. I want to support it."

Greg Treadwell, the general manager of the Suwanee location, said, "we love our customers," but referred all other questions to the corporate office.

Rick Wagner, also a Suwanee resident, said he came out for America and to support "the red, white and blue."

Wagner said he's "very much" in support of the restaurant's stance on traditional values, but also the chance to voice their opinions.

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press last month that the Atlanta-based company was "guilty as charged" for backing "the Biblical definition of a family." Gay rights groups and others answered with calls for boycotts.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared Wednesday "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" to respond to critics of Cathy's viewpoint.

"Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was created by our fans, not Chick-fil-A," said Steve Robinson, the company's executive vice president of marketing, in a statement. "We appreciate all of our customers and are glad to serve them at any time. Our goal is simple: to provide great food, genuine hospitality, and to have a positive influence on all who come in to Chick-fil-A."

Opponents of Cathy's stance planned "Kiss Mor Chiks" for Friday, and asked people of the same sex to show up at Chick-fil-A locations and kiss each other.

Will King, a Roswell resident who visited the Suwanee location, said he supports traditional marriage, but he couldn't pinpoint why the reaction was so widespread.

"I've been surprised that the gays and lesbians have been so up in arms about it," King said. "Because I do feel like most Americans are for traditional marriage."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.