Chick-fil-A to make second attempt at UK restaurant launch

14 September 2023 by
Chick-fil-A to make second attempt at UK restaurant launch

US fast food chain Chick-fil-A is plotting a return to the UK, just a few years after its first UK pop-ups closed following protests by LGBT+ groups.

The fried chicken chain, which runs more than 2,800 restaurants across the US, Puerto Rico, and Canada, is planning to launch a new UK restaurant in early 2025.

The group is aiming to open five UK sites within the first two years as part of a $100m (£80.1m) investment. Each restaurant will create approximately 80-120 new jobs.

"We are excited our restaurants will bring new jobs and opportunities throughout the UK," said Chick-fil-A's chief international officer, Anita Costello.

Chick-fil-A first attempted to open in the UK in Reading in 2019, but the store faced protests by LGBT+ activists over historic comments made by members of its founding Cathy family opposing same-sex marriage. It closed at the end of its six-month lease in 2020.

A second pop-up at the Macdonald Aviemore hotel in Scotland ran for three months until January 2020. More than 1,000 people signed a petition against its opening.

Protestors in both the US and UK have taken issue with the chicken chain, which was founded in Atlanta in 1967. The chain's Christian owners previously donated to Exodus International, an organisation which advocated gay "conversion therapy" before it shut down in 2013.

When the UK restaurant was hit by protests in 2019, the company told The Caterer it did not have "a social or political agenda".

Since 2019, the company has overhauled its philanthropic policy and said it donated $25,000 (£20,100) to charities helping those facing food poverty every time a new restaurant opened.

Andrew Cathy, grandson of the chain's founder, took over as chief executive in 2021, succeeding his father, Dan Cathy.

"From our earliest days, we've worked to positively influence the places we call home, and this will be the same for our stores in the UK," said Joanna Symonds, head of UK Operations.

Chick-fil-A's US restaurants close on Sundays, though it is not known if this policy will apply to the UK.

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