Chick-Fil-A Returns To The UK After Controversial 2019 Pop-Up

Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches and fries
Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches and fries - rblfmr/Shutterstock

As fast food restaurants like McDonald's and Taco Bell have expanded globally in the decades since their introductions, Chick-fil-A has, for the most part, stayed in the U.S. It opened locations in South Africa in the 1990s, but both closed by 2001. While the company has seen some success in Canada with its ten locations, it's finally making definite moves further, announcing in a press release that it will open a store in the U.K. in 2025, with four more stores to follow by 2027.

Despite the company's statement that the stores will bring jobs and that it plans to invest $100 million over the next ten years in the United Kingdom, the announcement brings with it reminders of past controversies. The company made a previous attempt to enter the U.K. market with a pop-up shop in the town of Reading, England, in 2019. In response to CEO Dan Cathy's comments in 2012 that many deemed as opposing gay marriage, LGBTQ activists and supporters protested the fast food restaurant's opening. The result was Chick-fil-A moving out of the Oracle shopping center at the end of its six-month lease. In 2020, protests against a location in Scotland also caused its closure.

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The Company Has Tried To Improve Their Image

activists protesting Chick-fil-A
activists protesting Chick-fil-A - Jeremy Sale/Shutterstock

Reading Pride was the group that organized the protests against Chick-fil-A's Reading location with the tagline, "Get the Chick Out." The group's chief executive told Berkshire Live, "This was not about their (or their CEO/founding family's) beliefs, we're not that thin-skinned. It was about their reported actions, that's where we drew the line and decided to act."

After Chick-fil-A left the United Kingdom, it turned its focus back to North America, increasing its store count in the U.S. and adding stores in Canada. And though Dan Cathy never waivered on his statements regarding traditional marriage, he told the Toledo Blade in 2014 that he wouldn't be talking about it anymore. "The bottom line is we have a responsibility here to keep the whole of the organization in mind, and it has to take precedence over the personal expression and opinion on social issues."

Chick-fil-A has donated a lot of money to charities every year, and one of the biggest criticisms Chick-fil-A has faced was its donations to groups characterized as opposed to gay rights. In 2019, it stopped donating to some groups that were considered anti-LGBTQ, intending to focus its funds on organizations focused on homelessness, education, and hunger, such as Feeding America and its Community Scholars program. Chick-fil-A plans to continue its strategy in the U.K., donating to local organizations while also introducing its Shared Table program.

Read the original article on Mashed.