CHICK-FIL-A OPENS IN BOSTON AMID CONTROVERSY
Will Boston’s New Chick-fil-A be a Success?
By Westray Keeler
Chick-fil-A, the popular chicken restaurant chain, has opened a new location in Copley Square – its first location in downtown Boston. Boloco, a Mexican restaurant, previously occupied the Boylston Street spot.
This new opening comes as a surprise to Boston residents, given the substantial pushback that Chick-fil-A has recently faced. The company previously tried placing stakes next to Boston City Hall in 2012, prompting a strongly worded letter from Boston’s mayor, Thomas Menino.
“I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston,” Menino wrote. “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”
Menino is one of many opposed to Chick-fil-A due to the corporation’s history of supporting organizations with anti-LGBTQ sentiments and homophobic comments made by the CEO, Dan Cathy. After receiving harsh backlash in 2012, including a nationwide boycott, the company apologized and claimed they would “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and the political arena.”
Yet, in 2017 alone, Chick-fil-A donated over $1.8 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Salvation Army, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home – all of which are companies that have made blatantly homophobic remarks or implemented discriminatory policies. Sadly, Chick-fil-A’s donations to questionable recipients aren’t limited to these organizations.
Although Chick-fil-A doesn’t donate to these causes anymore, Cathy continues to personally contribute to these organizations, rather than focusing on arguably better initiatives, for example, the fight to end hunger and homelessness. In fact, the National Christian Charitable Foundation (NCF), which opposed The Equality Act (which would expand civil protections for LGBTQ community members), and continually funds several other groups with the same aims, named Cathy as one of their “high-dollar donors” in 2021.
Boston’s opposition to Chick-fil-A can be further demonstrated by the reaction to a Chick-fil-A food truck stationed on Commonwealth Avenue last year on the Boston University campus. The Daily Free Press wrote, “B.U.’s campus is also no place for discrimination. It’s not impossible to stop eating at Chick-fil-A and B.U. students should think twice before buying a chicken sandwich from there.”
Despite this criticism, Chick-fil-A is doing very well in the business world. The company is ranked as the third-largest restaurant chain in the U.S., following Starbucks and McDonald’s. They also generated nearly $12.8 billion in sales in 2020.
Chick-Fil-A is known for its chipper employees and reliable service, as well as high-quality food. Their new Boston location is definitely something to keep an eye on. However, time will tell if its controversial past will affect its success in the city.