U.K.’s first Chick-fil-A will close just months after opening

Illustration for article titled U.K.’s first Chick-fil-A will close just months after opening
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That didn’t last long. The first Chick-fil-A in the U.K., located in a Reading, England shopping center called The Oracle, opened just eight days ago. Today The Oracle’s management tells the BBC the center will not renew Chick-fil-A’s six-month lease, likely as a result of pressure and boycotts from LGBTQ rights groups. According to Eater London, Chick-fil-A was also eyeing an expansion into London, the fate of which is now uncertain.

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Controversy greeted Chick-fil-A’s opening in the U.K. from day one; headlines made as much note of Chick-fil-A’s popularity in America as they did of its conservative views and donations to anti-LGBTQ-rights organizations. Without citing that directly, The Oracle’s management said “the right thing to do” was to not renew Chick-fil-A’s lease beyond the six-month trial period.

But people in the U.K. may not have been familiar with Chick-fil-A’s politics prior to its opening in Reading, Eater London reporter James Hansen tells The Takeout.

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“I would hazard that the general public weren’t all that familiar [with the chain’s controversial reputation],” Hansen said in an email. “Chick-fil-A has done one-day pop-ups across the U.K., in London and Edinburgh, but given that The Oracle Shopping Centre were happy to take them on for a six month lease—and have only ceded to pressure from LGBTQ protest—I’d say that’s pretty fair bellwether for people’s knowledge.”

Chick-fil-A is not without its American critics, too. But its fans here are legion, and have kept the restaurant chain not just in business but thriving, handily besting McDonald’s in sales per store and gunning to beat out Starbucks as America’s third-largest restaurant chain. If the response it got in the U.K. proves to be a trend, though, Chick-fil-A may have to settle for dominance only on American soil.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

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Eight days is an insanely quick turnaround to know something’s not working, almost makes you wonder why that shopping center didn’t pay a little better attention before giving that lease in the first place. Still, at least they showed some backbone in the issue, making a choice rather than shrugging the way an American place would.

I remain both a critic and a fan. Their food is pretty damned good, but their charitable contributions that are actually political contributions in disguise continue to be disgusting after claiming to change their ways, so I don’t eat there anymore.