The first Chick-fil-A location in the United Kingdom opened less than a week ago and it’s already set to close amid an outcry from LGBT protesters.
The restaurant debuted Oct. 11 in Reading, a town about an hour away from London. The company planned to use the location to test the possibility of expansion across the U.K.
According to Berkshire Live, the American fast-food restaurant set up shop in an empty unit in The Oracle shopping center, providing shoppers with the chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets and waffle fries many Americans have come to love.
The unit was previously occupied by Miami Burger, a vegan chain restaurant that closed only six months after it opened due to a lack of customers.
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This American expat is over the moon to have @chickfila right here in Reading UK! So much of homesickness is food & this place filled my heart tonight ♥️ we introduced friends to it already & cant wait to host American meetups! When they bring lemonade, Polynesian sauce & spicy chicken I will have died & gone to heaven! #ChickFilA #ChickFilAUK #ChickFilAReading #CFAUK #CFA #Reading #readingberkshire #RDGUK #ReadingUK #AmericanExpat #Expat #AmericanInUK #AmericanInEngland #AmericanInTheUK #AmericanAbroad #ExpatWomen #ExpatLife #ExpatLiving #Expats #ExpatWoman #PlusSizeExpat #Wonderlust #MyTinyAtlas #Travel #Abroad #LiveAbroad #TravelAbroad #AmericanAbroad #USinUK #BeUnlimited
While some were very excited about the new Chick-fil-A, not everyone in Reading welcomed its arrival with open arms.
Reading Pride, a local LGBT organization, publicly shared its disdain for the beloved chain’s first location in the U.K., and it’s not because the group’s leaders miss their vegan burgers.
The organization called the Christian-owned fast-food company’s values “backwards” and “abhorrent,” according to Berkshire Live.
Reading Pride called for a boycott of the new location, claiming Chick-fil-A supported a Christian charity that helped with a Ugandan law to execute gay people. That claim has been shot down as a “viral liberal hoax.”
“We are a progressive country and certainly a very progressive town,” Martin Cooper, chief executive of Reading Pride, told Berkshire Live. “What we have here is a restaurant owned by a family that has very backward beliefs that actively promote anti LGBT charities, which have sent preachers to Uganda to assist in the ‘kill the gays law.’
“To have a company with such values in our town is abhorrent to us.”
On Oct. 14, the LGBT group shared a long Facebook post explaining why it is “staunchly opposed” to the Reading Chick-fil-A.
It cited Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s stated opposition to gay marriage in 2012 as well as the company’s donations to Christian charities that take a similar position.
“The chain’s ethos and moral stance goes completely against our values, and that of the UK as we are a progressive country that has legalised same sex marriage for some years, and continues to strive towards equality,” it wrote with a graphic that reads “Get the chick out.“
Reading Pride also created a Facebook event inviting others to join a “peaceful protest” planned for Saturday morning.
“The aim is to enlighten potential patrons to the Chick-fil-A chain and their anti LGBT+ stance,” the event details said. “Ultimately we want to see the chain removed from Reading and ultimately the UK.”
They got their wish even before that protest.
On Friday, a spokesman for The Oracle announced that the shopping center has decided not to extend Chick-fil-A’s initial six-month lease any further.
“At the Oracle, we offer an inclusive space where everyone is welcome,” the spokesman told Berkshire Live.
“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.”
The remaining six months will allow for “re-settlement and notice for employees that have moved from other jobs,” Reading Pride said in a Facebook post about the decision.
The LGBT group said it still planned to hold the protest Saturday morning to educate “unsuspecting patrons” and suggest where else they could spend their money.
The Western Journal has asked Chick-fil-A to comment on Reading Pride’s reaction to the opening of the U.K. location, but the company has not yet responded. We will update this article if and when it does.
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