Just a little over a week after Chick-fil-A opened its first location in the United Kingdom, the restaurant will be closing because the shopping center will not extend the restaurant’s six-month lease in response to the protests of LGBTQ activists.
“Gay rights campaigners called for a boycott of Chick-fil-A, which opened its first branch at The Oracle shopping centre in Reading on 10 October,” reports the BBC.
A spokesperson for The Oracle shopping center told the BBC that “the right thing to do” was to prevent the fast-food chain from doing business in response to the LGBTQ outcry.
“We always look to introduce new concepts for our customers, however, we have decided on this occasion that the right thing to do is to only allow Chick-Fil-A to trade with us for the initial six-month pilot period, and not to extend the lease any further,” said the spokesperson.
Reading Pride expressed delight over the “good news,” saying the six-month period was “reasonable request … to allow for re-settlement and notice for employees that have moved from other jobs.” Reading Pride did, however, promise to keep haranguing the restaurant with protests until it officially left the shopping center for good.
Chick-fil-A told the BBC that the organization has donated to Christian groups for youth and education, noting that they serve as home to a diverse number of employees. “There are 145,000 people – black, white; gay, straight; Christian, non-Christian – who represent Chick-fil-A,” said a spokesperson.
Speaking with CNBC, a Chick-fil-A spokesperson said that the chicken empire will continue expansion into international markets.
“Chick-fil-A is always evaluating potential new locations in the hope of serving customers great food and award winning service. This six month pilot licensed location in Reading, UK is part of our exploration in international markets,” the spokesperson said.
The hate toward the chicken sandwich empire began in 2012, when company president Dan Cathy expressed support for traditional one-man/one-woman marriage, prompting boycotts across the country from LGBTQ activists.
“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” Cathy said at the time. “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
Just last year, two major publications wrote scathing articles begging people to boycott the business: The New Yorker and HuffPost. “If You Really Love LGBTQ People, You Just Can’t Keep Eating Chick-fil-A,” wrote Noah Michelson of HuffPost. When Chick-fil-A wanted to set up shop in New York City, Dan Piepenring of The New Yorker called it a “creepy infiltration” of the city. Following that, multiple universities and two city airports have banned Chick-fil-A from doing business.
Despite the efforts to harm the business, with college campuses and two city airports banning the chain from opening up shop, the chicken empire’s sales continue to climb and have only doubled since the boycotts launched in 2012.
“Chick-fil-A’s annual sales have more than doubled since LGBT and liberal groups began calling for a boycott of the restaurant in 2012, according to a new analysis,” reported Christian Headlines last month. “In 2012, when controversy arose over the CEO’s comments about same-sex marriage, sales totaled $4.6 billion, up from $4.1 billion the year before. In 2018, sales totaled $10.46 billion, making it the third-largest restaurant in the United States behind McDonald’s and Starbucks.”