Following the opening of the first UK branch of Chick-fil-A restaurants last week, the eatery is already facing closure.
The controversial fast-food chain, which has attracted negative attention for years due to donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations, opened its first outlet at The Oracle shopping center in Reading, Berkshire.
When the news was announced on a local Facebook page, the comments got pretty heated with many – familiar with the restaurant’s history of supporting homophobic organizations – chiming in.
“Not a company I would want to support regardless of what their food tastes like!” wrote one commenter. “Shame they are choosing our fabulously diverse town to ‘test’ in!”
“I totally agree with you!” added another. “I’m American and cannot support this business. It is anti-gay… anti-LGBT.”
“You have literally got to be kidding me,” declared a Reading resident. “You do know just how blatantly homophobic they are? I’m ashamed of all involved in allowing this to happen, honestly. Utterly unacceptable.”
“Vile won’t be eating there sadly until they stop their discriminatory and hate-filled policies!”
A spokesperson for Chick-fil-A issued a statement following the opening:
“We opened a pilot licensed location at The Oracle Centre of Reading on October 10 and we are pleased by customer response. Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on serving great food and hospitality. We are represented by more than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs and welcome everyone.”
But today, the BBC is reporting a spokeswoman for The Oracle shopping center says “the right thing to do” was to not extend the fast-food outlet’s lease past the “six-month pilot period.”
“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.”
After statements in 2012 by CEO Dan Cathy who responded “Guilty as charged” when asked about opposing marriage equality resulted in much unwanted bad press, the company shared on its Facebook page it would change course and focus on chicken leaving the “policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
But ThinkProgress reports the company has continued to donate to anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.