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In some clucking good news, the UK’s first Chick-fil-A has closed for good after fierce backlash

Nick Duffy March 30, 2020
American fast food restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A

American fast food restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A (Photo Illustration by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The UK’s first Chick-fil-A restaurant has shut its doors for good after protests from the local LGBT+ community in Reading.

The notorious US fast food chicken chain had ventured into the UK market in October with an outlet at The Oracle shopping centre – despite controversy over its links to anti-LGBT+ causes.

In the US, Chick-fil-A has been subject to a years-long boycott from activists  over its long record of donations to groups that advocate for discrimination against LGBT+ people.

In October, hundreds of activists attended a protest against the chain’s presence in Reading – and the restaurant has now closed its doors for good, after the shopping centre opted to not extend Chick-fil-A’s lease past its “six-month pilot period”.

Decision to close for good is ‘correct’ outcome, say campaigners

Martin Cooper, chief executive officer of Reading Pride, told BerkshireLive the issue had reached the “correct” outcome.

He said: “This type of organisation with their suspected activities should not go un-challenged. And they did nothing to correct us.

“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.”

The chain’s only other UK restaurant, inside the Macdonald Aviemore Resort in the Scottish Highlands, also shut its doors in January.

Chick-fil-A really wants you to know it won’t distance itself from anti-LGBT+ groups

In the US, Chick-fil-A reaffirmed its anti-LGBT+ stance, after initial reports that its charitable arm was to stop subsidising homophobic causes.

In a letter to anti-LGBT+ lobbying group American Family Association, Chick-fil-A boss Dan Cathy apologised to evangelicals for “inadvertently” fuelling reports that the fast food chicken chain was set to end its long record of donations to groups that discriminate against LGBT+ people.

Dan T. Cathy, Chairman, President and CEO, Chick-fil-A speaks onstage during 2020 Salute to Greatness Awards Gala at Hyatt Regency Atlanta on January 18, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dan T. Cathy, Chairman, President and CEO, Chick-fil-A speaks onstage during 2020 Salute to Greatness Awards Gala at Hyatt Regency Atlanta on January 18, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

The fast food chicken chain boss wrote: “As you have seen, recently we announced changes to our giving strategy at the Chick-fil-A Foundation. These changes were made to better focus on hunger, homelessness and education.

“We understand how some thought we were abandoning our longstanding support of faith-based organisations. We inadvertently discredited several outstanding organisations that have effectively served communities for years.

“Some also questioned if our commitment to our corporate purpose was waning. Let me state unequivocally: It is not.”

Addressing the anti-LGBT+ lobbying group, he wrote: “I speak for the entire Cathy family, our leadership team, our operators, team members and support center staff when I say, we are thankful for all of you, your support and your feedback.”

More: American Family Association, chick-fil-a, dan cathy, reading, Reading Pride

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