05/29/2014 11:42 EDT | Updated 05/29/2014 11:59 EDT

Chick-fil-A Comes To Canada With Calgary Airport Location


A U.S. fast food chain known for its openly anti-gay stance has quietly opened up shop in Canada.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A opened a location on the departures level of Calgary International Airport on Tuesday, the Calgary Sun reports.

The company says it plans to avoid taking any political stances in Canada, but seemed somewhat sensitive to its image as an anti-gay company. It asked the Calgary Herald to avoid the topic when talking to customers.

We’re not trying to bring any attention to that. I would ask you not ask the guests that question,” director of licensing Cheryl Dick told the newspaper.

Chick-Fil-A was the target of protests and boycotts in 2012 after it emerged the company had donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay causes in 2010, and CEO Dan Cathy publicly reaffirmed the position.

Despite protests, vandalism and ejections from university campuses, the company’s “cultish” following led it to record sales that year.

The company describes its “corporate purpose” as being “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Chick-fil-A’s expansion strategy — 108 new locations this year — includes moving into areas where its politics are unpopular.

Individual franchises are working to overcome the political stigma; in California, a franchise offered free meals last year to gay marriage advocates.

In New York, the chain is adding healthier items to its chicken-oriented menu, but faces political opposition.

We don’t need bigots coming to New York City,” openly gay Councilman Daniel Dromm told HuffPost.

The expansion into New York is seen as a litmus test for whether the company can make it outside its southern U.S. base.

If we can’t do it in New York, we have no business going anywhere else,” Woody Faulk, VP of design and innovation at the chain, said in an interview.

The Sun notes this isn't Chick-fil-A's first foray into Canada. It opened a location at the University of Alberta in the 1990s.

"We were in Canada before in 1995 and learned a lot through that experience but we weren’t open very long and now we have an opportunity to... open this new location,” Dick said.

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