Six years after an initial failed attempt, Chick-fil-A is trying again to open its first Boston proper location. The popular but controversial Southern chicken chain aims to open in Back Bay’s Copley Square, where it’s seeking approvals to take over the current Boloco space at 569 Boylston St.
In 2012, the chain was eyeing a location on Boston’s Freedom Trail, but Boston’s late mayor Thomas Menino took a hard stance against the Atlanta-based chain in the face of anti-gay comments from Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy.
“You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population,” Menino said at the time. “We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”
Cathy’s strong anti-LGBTQ opinions aside, the company itself has previously used its charitable arm WinShape (created by founder S. Truett Cathy in 1984) to donate millions of dollars to organizations that have firm positions against homosexuality, including the Family Research Council, the Marriage & Family Foundation, and others.
As such, the chicken chain has faced criticism from various individuals, advocacy groups, and even universities: In early 2012, NYU students created a petition to shut down Chick-fil-A operations on campus, while Boston’s Northeastern University aborted plans to secure its own Chick-fil-A. This past June, backlash surged after Twitter’s CEO posted about ordering food from the chain, prompting social outrage that he publicly supported a bastion of anti-gay sentiment during Pride Month for the LGBTQ community.
Despite Chick-fil-A’s previous failures to secure locations within Boston city limits, the chain has added 11 locations elsewhere in the state (and a 12th on the way), including ones fairly close by in Dedham and Framingham.
Update 11/16, 8:00 a.m.: Boloco shared a statement regarding the apparent plans for Chick-fil-A to take over its current home on Boylston Street. A post on Twitter read:
Related to the rumors of Chick Fil A taking over our Copley location, there is not yet any agreement for Boloco to leave. We have a lease thru 2020 and a decade of options after. We are working with landlord to find a solution based on what we’ve read.
The City of Boston will host an abutter’s meeting on the issue on Tuesday, November 20 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza.