A massive, massively popular, and deeply controversial American chicken brand is thought to be plotting its launch in London. Propel’s Mark Wingett tweeted that Chick-fil-A, a brand known as much for its support of anti-LGBTQ causes as it is for chicken sandwiches, last night said: “the third largest US fast food restaurant chain, is looking to take a significant step towards launching in the UK, with plans to open of a one-year pop-up here.”
To give a sense of scale, in the States, Chick-fil-A’s 2,300 sites, with sales of $10.5 billion in 2018, outperforms KFC; only Subway and McDonald’s are bigger. It is the largest fast food chicken restaurant chain in the country based on sales.
Propel says that the the company is “understood to be currently exploring opportunities for the pop-up in the UK, with London the ideal location, but also major regional cities under consideration.” It is aiming to open before the end of the year.
After a one-day pop-up in Edinburgh in April 2018, international vice-president, Rich Matherne said: “The pop-up here today in Edinburgh is our fourth in the UK in the past three years. We are really excited to explore different cities across the country including Edinburgh as a possible future location and showcase what Chick-fil-A has to offer.
“This is a great city and one that we would certainly want to be in, serving the Edinburgh community sometime in the future.”
Chick-fil-A was founded by Truett Cathy, who opened a diner in Atlanta in 1946, an entrepreneur known, according to the brand’s website, “for having a keen business sense, a work ethic forged during the Depression, and a personal and business philosophy based on biblical principles.” It is those principles which means that still today the company closes on Sundays. More seriously however, it is the Christian faith baked into the brand’s DNA which has resulted in its million-dollar support for groups that opposed same-sex marriage, and for a group that promoted conversion therapy, a bogus — and discredited — ideology that casts homosexuality as a curable illness.
In Eater NY’s definitive piece on why you should probably not eat at Chick-fil-A, Ryan Sutton details the brand’s retrograde politics, and declares its food something of a mixed bag.
If and when it does arrive in London, and elsewhere in the U.K., Chick-fil-A will be judged not just on the quality of its chicken sandwiches, but on its politics, too.