UPDATE (6/20/13): The Loop Chick-fil-A is now open for business.
Chicago is set to 'Eat More Chickin!' It appears that last summer's well publicized beef between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A is a thing of the past. Downtown Chicago is about to get its second prime Chick-fil-A location. Construction is well underway at a State Street site in the shadow of the L, that was most recently home to Halsted Street Deli and Johnny Rockets. Located next to the iconic marquee of the Chicago Theater on the corner of State and Lake, the new location will be easily accessible to all Chicagoans from all lines on the L.
Last summer, Mayor Emanuel pledged to block the chain's further expansion within the city after the chief operating officer of the fast food giant, Dan Cathy, made remarks on the nationally syndicated Ken Coleman Show that were viewed as hostile to gay marriage.
I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage'. I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.
Additionally, the deeply conservative Christian company has a long history of funding anti-LGBT groups including The WinShape Foundation, The Family Research Council, Georgia Family Council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Exodus International - an organization notorious for supporting ex-gay conversion therapy.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino was the first high profile public official to go on a crusade against Chick-fil-A, when he stated that he would not allow the company to open franchises in the city "unless they open up their policies." Shortly after, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pledged to block the franchise's attempt to bring a second Chick-fil-A to the city. Emanuel stated "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values. They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty."
Coincidentally it was in response to Mayor Emanuel's statements regarding Chick-fil-A that this blog, The Mayor Daily, was born as a facebook rant.
Rahm rejects 2nd Chick-fil-A because the COO Dan Cathy is anti-gay marriage. Whether or not you support gay marriage, or the Mayor's action, the Chick-Fil-A COO is entitled to that opinion under the 1st Amendment. As anyone who has visited the Downtown location knows, Chick-Fil-A has been a boon to the local economy. Its packed all the time. If people don't want to support the new location, let them vote with their pay checks no one is forcing them to go. Not sure when Chicago's government became the arbiter of morality. Not many business are looking to expand in this economy. This is a really stupid move that costs a cash strapped city tax revenue and jobs
In response, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee named August 1, 2012, as Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day to counter the LGBT initiated boycotts. Over 600,000 people RSVPed on Facebook for Huckabee's event. Chick-fil-A reported record breaking sales. Huckabee's efforts were bolstered by Cardinal Francis George, leader of Chicago's Catholics, who blasted Mayor Emanuel in a widely read August 1 blog post.
Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.
Despite the success of Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, the massive national backlash continued as the controversy took on a life of its own. Student protests in the Northeast attempted to ban Chick-fil-A from their campuses. Additionally, in one of the most hilarious forms of civil disobedience in recent memory, homosexual couples organized massive "kiss offs" inside Chick-fil-A restaurants on August 3rd.
Eventually Chick-fil-A distanced itself from Cathy's comments in a statement, "Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena." By September 2012, The Civil Rights Agenda found that Chick-fil-A had "ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights." It appears that this policy shift led to the Emanuel administration's change of course.
While the jobs created and tax revenue received will certainly be a boon to the cash strapped city, I have to question the wisdom of opening a restaurant on one of the city's most prime tourist spots that isn't open on Sundays. That said, this is a huge win for Chick-fil-A fans who live and work in the city. Despite last summer's drama, the Loop's new Chick-fil-A will be a much welcomed addition to the city's busiest area. After all nothing helps make the summer more bearable than that southern favorite, sweet tea.