Beyond Breakfast Biscuits: A father’s emotional journey to the Chick-fil-A Headquarters

Brian & Angie Chick-fil-A Support Center visit (KPRC/


The flow of life is often measured by its unpredictability and the unexpected events that shape our experiences. There are moments that stand out, altering the course of our existence in profound ways. For my family, one such moment occurred when something traumatic unfolded, leaving a permanent mark on our lives.

In July 2020, our youngest son, Ethan, who had just turned 12, was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic Lymphoma, initiating a journey marked by Faith, Hope, and Love. Despite initial optimism, Ethan’s condition worsened, leading to relapse and relentless treatments. Faith in medical expertise sustained us, but Hope dwindled as Ethan’s condition deteriorated. After enduring extensive treatments, Ethan’s brave decision to go home signaled acceptance of his fate. He passed away on March 25, 2021, leaving us devastated.

Ethan (KPRC/

Before cancer, our family found solace in Saturday mornings at Chick-fil-A, enjoying breakfast biscuits together. During his cancer journey, we discovered a Chick-fil-A right inside of the hospital at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. It quickly became our haven, providing comfort amidst the chaos.

A few weeks after Ethan’s passing, I woke up on a Saturday morning and drove to our neighborhood Chick-fil-A, and I ordered 2 breakfast biscuits, one for me and one for Ethan. Even though he was not there and would never get to enjoy breakfast with his dad, I still ordered him one. I got my order and then went to the car, and I cried and cried. I can’t remember if I even ate the biscuits that day. Then the next week, on Saturday morning, I went back, and have not stopped. For the past 35 months, this ritual has persisted each Saturday morning. Ordering two chicken biscuits, one for me and one for Ethan.

The word ‘restaurant,’ comes from the French, and means to restore. This holds true in my case. This Saturday morning ritual connects me to cherished memories and the warmth of shared moments. Last February, I wrote an article titled “How Chick-fil-A Biscuits bring comfort to a grieving father”. This article was inspired by a Facebook post I had shared with my friends. Many of them were moved by it and encouraged me to turn it into an article. I was hesitant at first, but after a lot of thought, I realized that sharing my story could help others. It also would be a window into the world of how a parent grieves when losing their child. I sent it to our digital team and asked them if they would publish it and the next thing I knew, it was published on all the Graham Media Group websites and the story sort of went viral. Then on the following Saturday after the article was published, I went to Chick-fil-A for breakfast, as usual, and when I walked in there was a reserved sign on table #13. I remember stopping in my tracks and tears were pouring out of my eyes. In the original article, I had mentioned that I like to sit at that table, because it faces east and there is nothing more beautiful than a ray of sunshine on your face.

The reserved sign on table #13 at Chick-fil-A Sienna Crossing. (KPRC/

From that day forward, the team at Chick-fil-A puts out a reserved sign on table #13 every Saturday morning. A few weeks later, Tony Levine, the restaurant operator, joined me for breakfast. He had with him a wrapped gift. He told me it was from the team at the Support Center in Atlanta. My wife, Angie, did not join me for breakfast that day, so I waited till she got home to open it. We slowly untied the red ribbon and set it aside. I then lifted the lid and inside was a framed painting of two chicken biscuits, hash browns, a drink, all atop a table with the number 13 on it. It perfectly captures the moment, and this one-of-a-kind piece of art is proudly displayed in our home.

Custom artwork from Chick-fil-A (KPRC/

Each March, on the anniversary of Ethan’s passing, Angie and I take a “reflection trip” and we were looking at possibly going to Atlanta. I can honestly say that I do earn plenty of Chick-fil-A (CFA) rewards and as a Signature Member, one of the benefits is access to backstage tours at the Support Center. Also, we have family in Atlanta and have not seen them in a while. I had mentioned this in passing to Tony one day and he said the Support Center has a great tour and has all the history of Chick-fil-A. Then the following week, I got a phone call from Tony, and he told me that the team at the Support Center would like to host Angie and me for a visit. While we were still on the phone, I got an email from Ed Perry, who is the Principal Operations Lead and Business Consultant for CFA. Ed was going to be our host and gave me all the information for our day at the Headquarters. I was reading the email and I noticed that the date of the visit was Monday, March 25th. This is the three-year anniversary of Ethan’s passing. Then I saw the sign and it hit me. This is Ethan’s doing. I have become a believer in signs, and I was convinced that this was one of them. Ed Perry! My last name is Perry. Ed starts with “E” and so does Ethan. What are the chances that our host for a visit to the CFA Headquarters has the same last name as us? Oh, and he has the same initials as our beloved son, “EP”. Ethan’s friends always called him “EP”. This brought a smile to my face.


We arrived in Atlanta on Saturday, March 23 and before we left for our flight at Hobby Airport, yes, we stopped for breakfast at CFA. I booked an afternoon flight so that I would not miss my Saturday morning ritual. We got to our hotel near the airport and settled in. On Sunday, we went to World of Coke and the Atlanta Aquarium. Both are great places to visit if you are in Atlanta. Coke and Chick-fil-A have a deep history. S. Truett Cathy, the founder, sold Coke in his neighborhood when he was eight years old. You can read more about that here.

Monday, March 25 came, and we were to arrive at the Support Center at 8 a.m. for our visit. We left our hotel and drove to the campus. We checked in with the security guard at the gate and were given a parking pass and a map, then we drove to the main building. The property sits on 73 wooded acres with nature trails, a lake, and beautiful landscaping. We parked our car, gathered our things, and walked up the path to the main entrance.

The Support Center (KPRC/

When we arrived, we were greeted by Ed Perry “EP” and a few other members of the team. To our surprise, they had warm chicken breakfast biscuits waiting for us. I was not expecting that, and I knew that this was going to be a day we would not forget. Our day started with lots of introductions, handshakes, hugs, smiles, and of course the biscuits. We began our walk through the building, with its open office concept and brightly lit corridors. We were headed to another building that was connected to the main one via an enclosed elevated walkway. Our first stop of the day was the Monday morning devotional. This is hosted by the Cathy family and is optional for employees to attend. There are around 4,000 people that work at the Support Center, and I was a little nervous to attend devotion because I was asked to speak. This is because they want to introduce their invited guests and team members that are visiting the Support Center. Since some of them were familiar with my original story that was published last year, they wanted me to share the story and the reason for our visit. I had no idea how big the space was going to be or what to expect, so I made sure to be prepared. I had written a speech that told the story of Ethan, his cancer journey and how for the past three years, I find solace enjoying breakfast biscuits each Saturday morning at Chick-fil-A. This was also my way to personally thank everyone at the Support Center for their love and support. It was neat to be a witness to their culture and I was thankful for the opportunity to be an invited guest. It is no secret that Chick-fil-A’s founder led a life that was centered on biblical principles. At the devotion, they welcomed everyone and talked about the week to come. On the agenda was a keynote speaker who gave a very impactful talk about encouragement.

Early morning arrival for our visit to the Support Center. (KPRC/

I found the topic very interesting as throughout my entire grieving process, people have encouraged me to share my story and I have been doing that. Once her talk had ended, they began introducing the guests that were visiting the Support Center that day. Ed, our host, had informed us that we would be the last group to be introduced since I was going to be speaking. Most of the other guests in attendance were employees from restaurants around the country and some family members of CFA Operators. When it was our turn, we accompanied Ed to a microphone that they had set up near the main stage. He then introduced Angie and me to the crowd. I had noticed that the attendance had grown throughout the morning from when we first arrived. Ed was giving a little background on our visit and as I stood there in front of what felt like hundreds of people, I looked up at the sky through the arched glass ceiling. There were some clouds slowly moving in the sky and I felt Ethan looking down at me saying, “dad, I love you”. I then stepped up to the mic, took a deep breath, and began my speech. The room got quiet, and my voice was the only sound that filled the space. I had written my thoughts down because this is a sad story, and I can get emotional when speaking and at times can get lost in those emotions. So having it written out helps me stay on track. I spoke for about five minutes, and I remember looking up a few times and I could see people intently listening and really focusing on my words. I could feel the energy in the room and then I got to the end of my three-page speech. I looked up and said my final sentence. “Thank you for allowing me to share my story and for having Angie and I here today.” Then the silence was broken by applause, people stood up and I could see some of them wiping tears from their eyes. I stood there for a moment taking it all in. I then walked over to Angie, and I gave her a big hug. After devotion, Andrew Cathy, Truett Cathy’s grandson and current CEO of Chick-fil-A came over to meet us and we spent some time together and had a very nice chat. Then we were off to the main building for our behind-the-scenes tour. On our way to the tour, we stopped at the studio where they have the “Red Couch”. Yes, the “Red Couch”, the one that they use in their commercials. We had a seat and took some pictures. I was not surprised that they had a studio right there on the campus, it was very similar to the studio at KPRC. Lights, cameras, and set pieces.

Brian & Angie on the the Red Couch set. (KPRC/

GO BACKSTAGE: A Fascinating Tour of Chick-fil-A: Exploring the History and Operations


When we arrived back at the main building after the first part of our tour, we thanked our wonderful tour guide and said goodbye to our new friends from the two other Chick-fil-A’s that were with us. We were reunited with Ed and met Sarah from Public Affairs. We were scheduled to join some of the team for lunch, but we were taken back to the studio for a quick interview with Sarah about our story. It was interesting to be the one interviewed, because I am always behind the scenes and am not used to being the story. After that, we left the studio and went downstairs to the lower level where the Café was. Ed had saved a table for us, and we put our stuff down and then went to go get some food. It was very crowded and there were different stations with all sorts of eats and treats. They had the classics like, chicken sandwiches, grilled nuggets, pizza, salads, fountain sodas, iced tea, and many other items. These were offerings that were available every day. Then they had an area where the menu changes daily. This day there was baked chicken with rice and broccoli.

The Café at the Chick-fil-A Support Center (KPRC/

I opted for a slice of pizza, a salad, and a chicken sandwich. How could I not have a chicken sandwich, I was at the headquarters after all. While I was walking around with my food, lots of people recognized me from devotion and came up to me with kind words. Some even mentioned that they had heard about my Saturday morning ritual from my article last year. Everyone was so kind and made me feel so welcome. I was sort of eating while walking and talking. I was fortunate enough to get a few bites of pizza, ate about half the sandwich and never had time for that salad. Then someone asked me if I wanted some ice cream or a shake, I smiled like a little kid and next thing I knew, I had a chocolate shake in my hand, and it was delicious. Things started to calm down and we had some nice conversations with our table mates. We had to wrap things up at around 2 p.m. because we had to catch another shuttle bus to the Chick-fil-A Archives.


After our visit to the Archives, we looked at the time and it was getting late in the day and our visit was coming to an end. Back at the main building, we collected our things, said our goodbyes, and stopped at the gift shop for a few things. Before we made it back to the car, we stopped and recorded a quick selfie video on our phone for Tony and the team back in Houston. We sent it off and got in the car and drove to our cousin’s house in north Atlanta.

I left with a tear in my eye and my heart was filled with warmth. We stayed in Atlanta for a few more days. We visited the Botanical Gardens, The Center for Puppetry Arts, which had an exhibit from the Jim Henson Collection, and spent the rest of the time with family. Our cousin, Ben, had organized a cube drive for pediatric patients at Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta and we went with him to deliver those cubes. We are very proud of Ben for honoring Ethan’s legacy.

Donating cubes to Children's Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta (KPRC/

We founded a non-profit called Ethan’s Ohana and one of the things we do are cube drives for kids. Ethan had learned to solve the Rubik’s Cube in the hospital and became a master at it. You can read more about that on our website. At Ethan’s Ohana, we inspire acts of kindness toward others and create a community of support and understanding that nurtures hope, healing, and resilience.


I want to thank my KPRC and Graham Media Group family for encouraging me to share my story. I am fortunate to work with an amazing group of people each day. Angie & I want to thank Ed Perry, Andrew Cathy, and the entire staff at the Support Center. They welcomed us with open arms and made our visit special. We made some new friends and are forever grateful for the experience. A huge special thanks to Tony Levine, and Chick-fil-A Sienna Crossing. They have become a surrogate family, very aware of our story, some of them having even known Ethan. Tanya, Luke, Andrew, Rhonda, Matilda, and so many more of the amazing team members lift my spirits during dark moments, providing solace, strength, and a reason to smile. The Chick-fil-A community has been an indispensable part of my journey toward healing. So, should you happen to be at Chick-fil-A Sienna Crossing on a Saturday morning, consider indulging in breakfast and joining me at table #13. Let us collectively acknowledge and celebrate the enduring strength of love and resilience amid moments of loss.


MORE: A Fascinating Tour of Chick-fil-A: Exploring the History and Operations

How Chick-fil-A biscuits are bringing comfort to grieving father

I lost my son: What I’ve learned about cancer care for kids since

Ethan is more precious than gold: How this valuable message will help others

Ethan’s Fight: The story one brave boy wanted us to tell

About the Author

Brian has been at Graham Media Group's Houston Station, KPRC 2, for over 27 years and works behind the scenes. He spends most of his time working on the digital and streaming side of and KPRC 2+.

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