Chick-fil-A proving its chops; opening biggest store in ‘enemy territory’

Chick-fil-A, the restaurant chain that became the subject of controversy after its CEO said marriage should remain traditional — between one man and one woman — is now expanding its operations into an area some might believe is enemy territory: New York City.

And it’s doing it in a big way — with a three-story, freestanding facility.


Crain’s New York Business reported:

The Atlanta-based restaurant chain will debut a three-level eatery at 1000 Sixth Ave., at the corner of West 37th Street, in late summer. The 5,000-square-foot space marks the 48-year-old company’s first foray into the Big Apple market, though it has operated a tiny outpost within the food hall of New York University’s campus for years. The closest location is 15 miles away in Paramus, N.J.

“We are beyond excited about opening our first freestanding restaurant in New York,” Carrie Kurlander, vice president of public relations told Crain’s. “This location will allow us to serve fans who have been asking us to come to New York and to earn the opportunity to serve new customers.”

And this is just the beginning of the relationship between the restaurant chain and the Big Apple. Kurlander said the company is actively working on opening additional locations throughout the city within the next two years.

Operating in Manhattan’s sky-high rent environment will be challenging for Chick-fil-A, given that each of its locations are closed on Sunday. Management “believes all operators and team members deserve a day off,” according to a company spokeswoman.

And then there’s that gay marriage thing.

Three years ago, company CEO Dan Cathy remarked that he didn’t believe in same-sex marriage. Although this was obviously a personal belief, it prompted demonstrations at its facilities nationwide, including a same-sex “kiss-in” at its restaurants.

Shortly after the gay marriage flap, then-U.S. Rep. Allen West, the outspoken Republican from Florida, added fuel to the fire by catering a Congressional Black Caucus meeting with Chick-fil-A.

Although Cathy has since apologized for his remarks, New York’s gay community remains skeptical.

“We hope that Chick-fil-A’s planned entrance to New York City comes with a side of LGBT-inclusivity and a newly-thought strategy for supporting ventures that are equality friendly,” Nathan Schaefer, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda said, according to Crain’s.

“The bedrock of our city is built on diversity and the history of the LGBT civil rights movement took place on our streets; we encourage all new businesses, including Chick-fil-A, to learn from the mistakes they’ve made and welcome a new era that is reflective of the people they will be serving.”


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