Boston, MA - For the past six years, Chick-Fil-A has garnered national—and ultimately polarizing—public attention for reasons that has less to do with the quality of their food, and more for a controversial stance on same sex marriage and equality. In fact, attention was so polarizing that it prompted a sharp rebuke from then Boston mayor Thomas Menino who pulled no punches after hearing of the national chain’s plans for expansion in Boston.
"When Massachusetts became the first state in the country to recognize equal marriage rights, I personally stood on City Hall Plaza to greet same sex couples coming here to be married. It would be an insult to them and to our city's long history of expanding freedom to have a Chick-Fil-A across the street from that spot," stated Menino in a 2012 press release.
However, his successor appears somewhat more ambivalent in addressing the the restaurant’s desire to expand into the greater metropolitan Boston area.
“Chick-fil-A has gone through a process here in the community and I’ll be kind of paying attention to see what the story is and what’s been going on, any feelings we have. I have not heard anything negative about Chick-fil-A coming in.... I know there was a situation here many, many years ago with Chick-fil-A coming in,” Mayor Marty Walsh told reporters on Tuesday, referring to a 2012 incident in Northeastern University students successfully blocked the restaurant from coming to campus, citing the chain’s continued support against same-sex marriage.
The Atlanta based chain—which currently operates 11 locations in the Massachusetts area—first drew public scrutiny in 2012 when CEO Dan Cathy came out in support of traditional definitions of marriage, vowing to donate millions to anti-LGBT groups.
"We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives...We intend to stay the course," Cathy stated at the time in an interview with the Baptist Press. "We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles." However, owing to mass protest and public outcry, Cathy softened his tune just two years later.
"I'm going to leave it to politicians and others to discuss social issues,” he stated in a 2014 interview with USA Today.Back Bay Association President Meg Mainzer-Cohen stated she felt the proposed location at 569 Boylston St (currently home to Boloco) is an ideal spot for a fast food restaurant in the Copley Square area.
“We are always looking for new opportunities to serve Massachusetts customers and are excited about the prospect of joining the Back Bay neighborhood,” Chick-Fil-A spokeswoman Amanda Hannah said in a statement. “While we are still early in the approval process, we can confirm that we are pursuing a location at 569 Boylston St.”
*The photograph in this article is an artist's rendering of a Chick-Fil-A at 569 Boylston Street.