A Chick-fil-A restaurant that opened in the United Kingdom amid protests against the company’s opposition to same-sex marriage will close in the next six months.
"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,” mall officials told the BBC.
Reading Pride, a LGBTQ rights group, opposed the restaurant since before it opened and plans to continue to until it closes.
“We are staunchly opposed to Chick-fil-A setting up shop in the UK and certainly in Reading,” the group said in a statement on social media. “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 legalized same-sex marriage and “continues to strive toward equality.”
Based on the following, we are staunchly opposed to @ChickfilA setting up shop in the UK at @OracleReading and certainly in #rdguk.— Reading Pride UK (@Reading_Pride) October 14, 2019
The chain’s ethos and moral stance towards #LGBTQ people goes completely against our values, and that of the UK. pic.twitter.com/vb9k10UbvU
Dan T. Cathy, the company’s chairman, sparked protests in 2012 when he said he believed in the biblical definition of the family unit. The restaurant’s foundation has donated millions to groups that work to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage.
The restaurant chain is undeterred.
“We have been very pleased with the lines since opening Oct. 10 and are grateful for customer response to our food and our approach to customer service,” the company said Saturday, The New York Times reported. “We mutually agreed to a six-month lease with the Oracle Mall in Reading as part of a longer term strategy for us as we look to expand our international presence.”
The restaurant did not indicate where future United Kingdom locations would be.
“We are always looking and learning, and do so through pop-up locations, but nothing else to share right now,” a company spokeswoman told The Times.
The restaurant chain, with more than 2,400 locations in the U.S., is third largest by sales behind McDonald’s and Starbucks, CNBC reported. Its first international restaurant opened in Toronto in September amid protests.
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