From the moment popular American fried chicken vendor Chick-fil-A opened its inaugural U.K. branch in the city of Reading, gay rights activists were mobbing it with complaints and calls to boycott.
Barely a week after welcoming its first British customers, Reading’s city center mall, The Oracle, announced that it will not renew the company’s lease. “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 Oracle said in a statement, according to the BBC, noting that it seeks to “offer an inclusive space where everyone is welcome.”
The officials at The Oracle clearly brushed over the fact that Chick-fil-A has some of the most generous employment opportunities available in catering, including scholarships and management opportunities, and retains a staff that is world-renowned for going above and beyond in their service. The staff are rated as some of the friendliest and most welcoming in the entire fast food industry.
Indeed, Chick-fil-A would have been good for Reading. But now, suddenly, the chicken-fried dream is over. Why?
Well, the chief instigator of the abrupt termination was a group named Reading Pride, which believes the company’s donations to organizations such as The Fellowship of Christian Athletes and, God forbid, The Salvation Army, indicates unforgivable bigotry. So, canceled they must be. The first batch of specialty waffles had barely been dunked into the fryer when Reading Pride announced a call to arms in the form of a boycott.
“We respect everyone’s freedom to eat where they choose,” they qualified, “however, we ask the LGBT+ community (including its allies) to boycott the chain in Reading.”
But the Chick-fil-A haters didn’t stop there. In a quite bizarre statement, an affiliated LGBT group even suggested that the British government should investigate the chain before allowing it to open any UK-based restaurants. “Parliament should be questioning businesses like this that work against the values of our amazing country,” UK Pride Organisers’ Network member Stephen Ireland said, according to Christian Institute.
How Chick-fil-A was “allowed to hit the UK high street without openly answering the concerns of the LGBT community” was unfathomable to them, they added.
True to its Christian ethos, Chick-fil-A, the third-largest fast-food business in the USA, responded graciously to the bad press. “We hope our guests in the U.K. will see that Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on serving great food and hospitality, and does not have a social or political agenda,” a spokesman said prior to the lease being terminated. “We are represented by more than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs, and we welcome everyone.”
Not to be cowed by those who mightn’t agree with every single charitable financial decision they take, the restaurant started filling up, and the customers looked delighted. Still, more clarification was needed. Chick-fil-A doubled down on its commitment to diversity and equality in the causes it supports.
“Our giving has always focused on youth and education. We have never donated with the purpose of supporting a social or political agenda,” the company stated. “There are 145,000 people – black, white; gay, straight; Christian, non-Christian – who represent Chick-fil-A.”
But it was all too late, and the writing was on the wall. For the simple sin of giving away millions of dollars to worthy causes, the popular eatery has fallen victim to the mob of intolerance and will be forced to shutter its doors to a British people who, sadly, hardly got the chance to taste and see that it was good.