It’s been four years since the chain retreated from the country after facing backlash for its history of donating to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations.
Chick-fil-A said last week that it would open stores across the UK in early 2025 as part of a larger plan to expand to Europe and Asia. It plans to open five restaurants in the UK within the first two years of its plan.
This will be the first permanent store outside of North America, The Atlanta-based fast-food chain known for its busy drive-thru lanes said.
When Chick-fil-A dipped its toe in the UK market before, it received a chilly welcome.
In 2019, Chick-fil-A opened a location in the UK, in the town of Reading in Berkshire, England. But the chain’s reputation for making significant donations to right-wing groups with a history of anti-LGBTQ+ work prompted waves of protests.
In 2012, CEO Dan Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A’s founder Truett Cathy, said he did not support same-sex marriage. Though the chain stopped donations to several controversial groups in 2012, it continued to work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army, two groups that have been criticized by LGBTQ+ advocates.
That past came to haunt them in the UK. The chain eventually pulled out after six months. A month after announcing the UK closure, Chick-fil-A said it would no longer donate to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army.
The chain did not return a request for comment about its UK comeback.
In a press release, Joanna Symonds, Chick-fil-A’s head of UK operations, said local operators will be encouraged “to partner with organisations which support and positively impact their local communities.”
“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,” Symonds said in a statement.
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