Chick-Fil-A’s First UK Location Announces Closing One Week After Opening

by | Oct 22, 2019 | QUEER RVA

After a massive backlash, the anti-LGBTQ fast food restaurant’s landlord in Reading, England decided not to renew Chick-Fil-A’s lease. They’ll be out of there in six months.

Well… that didn’t take long. Chick-Fil-A only opened its first store in the United Kingdom less than two weeks ago, and they have already announced its closing. And it’s all because of the UK’s strong LGBTQ community. Ah, victory is sweet.

What actually happened started before the location even opened, when the very news of a Chick-Fil-A coming to the UK was greeted with outrage and hostility from LGBTQ rights advocates in Reading, England. Before it even opened, they called for a boycott, and much of the coverage from UK press centered around the notorious chicken chain’s continued support of anti-LGBTQ organizations.

“Chick-Fil-A is coming with fried chicken sandwiches and retrograde politics,” announced Eater London’s article about the chain’s plans to open a location in the UK. Meanwhile, in Reading, public opinion was sharply divided around the idea of a Chick-Fil-A coming to the area. In that way, it wasn’t too different than any American comments section’s response to any mention of the restaurant.

However, there was a difference in how Chick-Fil-A was received by owners of The Oracle shopping center in Reading, which houses the Chick-Fil-A in question. Once the controversy started up, they were quick to distance themselves, and made clear they would not be renewing Chick-Fil-A’s lease.

“We always look to introduce new concepts for our customers,” said an Oracle spokesperson, according to the BBC. “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.”

According to Eater London’s initial coverage, Chick-Fil-A’s plan for the Reading location was to make it a one-year pop-up, expanding on the alleged success of four one-day pop-ups the chain held around the UK between 2016 and 2018. Therefore, The Oracle’s eviction notice may only bring a more abrupt end to an already-temporary UK location. It also doesn’t mean the chain won’t just find a more friendly landlord elsewhere in the country and re-open in a matter of months.

However, unlike here in the US, where Chick-Fil-A had already been a popular fast food franchise for decades before their anti-LGBTQ record was widely known, the restaurant’s controversial reputation has preceded them into the UK, and they may have a bigger struggle to establish themselves in that country than they’d expected. And that’s good news.

Photo via Reddit

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.

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