The first UK branch of chicken sandwich chain Chick-Fil-A is closing following backlash over its owner’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights.
Chick-Fil-A, which hails from the US, was subject to a boycott over in the USA after the founder’s son made public comments against same-sex marriage.
The first UK branch opened in The Oracle shopping centre in Reading on October 10, but eight days later the chain announced their six-month lease would not be extended.
As per the BBC, a spokesperson for the shopping centre said ‘the right thing to do’ was not to extend the restaurant’s lease beyond the ‘six-month pilot period’.
It comes after LGBTQ+ groups criticised the chain for donating millions of dollars to anti-LGBTQ+ groups such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Paul Anderson Youth Home and the Salvation Army, however Chick-Fil-A has said its donations were purely focused on youth and education.
According to LGBTQ+ campaigners Reading Pride, all three of those organisations have a reputation of being hostile towards their community.
The family-owned food chain originates from Atlanta and is one of the biggest fast-food chains in the US, dating all the way back to 1967.
Back in 2012, the company’s chairman sparked a US boycott when he publicly opposed gay marriage.
In a statement, The Oracle said:
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.
Reading Pride welcomed The Oracle’s decision, saying it was ‘good news’, adding the six-month period was a ‘reasonable request to allow for resettlement and notice for employees that have moved from other jobs’.
However the organisation maintained it would continue to campaign against the chain until it was gone.
Chick-Fil-A previously told the BBC:
Our giving has always focused on youth and education. We have never donated with the purpose of supporting a social or political agenda.
There are 145,000 people – black, white; gay, straight; Christian, non-Christian – who represent Chick-Fil-A.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 9am until 9pm Monday to Friday, and 10am until 6pm Saturday, or email [email protected]
Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.