Chick-fil-A is opening in Redwood City. Will protesters drive the controversial chain away? | Peninsula Foodist | Elena Kadvany | Almanac Online |

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By Elena Kadvany

Chick-fil-A is opening in Redwood City. Will protesters drive the controversial chain away?

Uploaded: Jun 6, 2019

Fast-food chain Chick-fil-A's stance on gay rights has stirred up controversy throughout the country -- boycotts, LGBTQ "kiss ins," lawsuits -- and now, the debate has landed on the Peninsula.

Chick-fil-A plans to open a new location at 536 Whipple Ave. in Redwood City, according to city plans. The city approved in December an architectural permit to demolish a portion of the McDonald's there and build a 2,939 square feet, 48-seat Chick-fil-A.

One local elected official said this week he plans to fight the chain's arrival.

San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa sent Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy a letter on Wednesday urging him to withdraw the company's permit "since your company's anti-LGBTQ policies do not represent the values of the overwhelming majority of San Mateo County residents.

A rendering of the planned Chick-fil-A in Redwood City. Image courtesy City of Redwood City.

Truett Cathy, a Baptist, opened Chick-fil-A in Atlanta in 1967. The company has since grown to thousands of locations across the country, including in Sunnyvale, Fremont, Walnut Creek and Santa Rosa in the Bay Area. All Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays.

The company came under fire in 2012 when Dan Cathy, Truett's son, said that he believes in the "biblical definition of the family unit." Chick-fil-A has also been criticized for making donations to charities that oppose same-sex marriage.

City governments around the country have voted against allowing Chick-fil-A to open, including in Mountain View in 2012 (though the opposition there mostly centered on safety concerns a busy drive-through restaurant could create for pedestrians and bicyclists).

The San Jose City Council approved last year plans to open a Chick-fil-A at the San Jose International Airport. This spring, after backlash from the local LGBTQ community, the council voted to place rainbow and transgender-supportive flags around the chain when it opens.

In a statement on the opposition to the company's Redwood City location, Chick-fil-A said: "We have welcomed guests into our 13 locally-owned Bay Area restaurants since 2012. These restaurants employ more than 1,000 diverse team members who are committed to providing great food with remarkable service. We are committed to earning the respect and business of all our customers, and one day hope to serve guests in Redwood City."

The company did not "have any additional news to share" on an opening date for the Redwood City Chick-fil-A.

"Until your company denounces its hateful policies toward the LGBTQ community," Canepa wrote to Cathy, "I will do everything in my power as county supervisor to ensure Chick-fil-A does not open a franchise in San Mateo County."