Late last month, I was traveling on the East Coast and got together with an old friend to see the Baltimore Orioles face the Washington Nationals. We were headed from Arlington, VA to Baltimore, MD when I glanced at roadside signs that advertise restaurants and gas stations that are off a particular exit.
I looked up and said – “By the way, what’s a Chick-Fil-A?” My friend said that they were a fast growing fast food chain based in the South. I nodded my head and my son mentioned that they were probably the same as In-And-Out Burger but for chicken. As he loves chicken, he wondered when we may see Chick Fil-A out West.
The food chain in fact has plans to open shop in nearby Walnut Creek, CA. The topical discussion, however, is not about welcoming the arrival of a new business but instead focused on Mayors in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and New York and comments made by Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy regarding his opposition to gay marriage.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote a scathing letter to Cathy last Friday urging him to keep his restaurant out of Boston. Yesterday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee joined the fray saying that the closest Chick Fil-A was 40 miles away and he hoped that they not get any closer. He stated his view that he was disappointed that Chick Fil-A didn’t support equality in marriage rights.
The intolerance of Cathy’s point of view by big city mayors is similar to what we saw when The Jelly Belly Candy Company founder Herman Rowland, Sr., hosted Rick Santorum at his factory in Fairfield. I for one, didn’t vote for Santorum in my state primary but I’m sure not giving up the world’s greatest jelly bean because we differ in perspective.
Offering a different, tolerant, pro-business point of view on the Chick-Fil-A controversy was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an Independent:
“I disagree with them really strongly on this one,” Bloomberg said on the John Gambling radio show. ”You can’t have a test for what the owners’ personal views are before you decide to give a permit to do something in the city. You really don’t want to ask political beliefs or religious beliefs before you issue a permit. That’s just not government’s job.”
You can view the related story on ABC News.
It’s well known by those communities who have a Chick-Fil-A that the food chain is closed on Sundays. That’s been the case since their founding as the Cathy family feels strongly that Sunday is a day of rest.
The Chick Fil-A website is a whimsical journey, complete with ways to tell your own story and have fun with their stories of cows and their Cow’s Campaign. It’s fun. If the man makes a strong bird, people will try it. I intend to.
Sadly, today amid the controversy, the company’s vice president for public relations died suddenly this morning. We extend our prayers to his family and his company family during this very difficult time.