Boston’s first Chick-fil-A garners mixed reaction from Emersonians

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Photo: Elaina Bolanos

Boston’s new Chick-fil-a location.

By Gabriel Borges, Staff Writer

Weeks after its grand opening, Boston’s first Chick-fil-A restaurant is still drawing crowds to its Boylston Street location—yet some Emerson community members are still not sold on the chicken joint.

The popular Atlanta-based chain opened its Copley Square location on Jan. 5 amid much fanfare—and controversy. Due to Chick-fil-A’s history of donations to organizations promoting anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Salvation Army and the Paul Anderson Youth Home, some Emerson students are hesitant to visit the establishment at 596 Boylston Street.

“The response will be half the people excited and half the people upset by Chick-fil-A in general because of its years of homophobia,” said sophomore visual and media arts major Derek Delson. 

“I don’t think it’s right, and I don’t need a Chick-fil-A a lot because of it,” he added.

Though Chick-fil-A has operated in Massachusetts since 2014—with 16 franchises currently active in the state—it would be a full decade before the chain managed to open a location in the city of Boston. Plans to open a location along the Freedom Trail were temporarily abandoned in 2012, after then-Mayor of Boston Thomas Menino penned an open letter to the chain criticizing the homophobic remarks of its CEO. “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it,” wrote Menino.

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In the years since the initial controversy, Chick-fil-A has cut off donations to groups opposing LGBTQ+ rights. The company is also open to LGBTQ+ staff and franchisees—including the owner of the Copley Street location, Matt DeMichele-Rigoni. However, those who believe that Chick-fil-A’s executives still hold many homophobic ties are reluctant to support the business.

“Of course, I know people can grow, but from what I’ve heard, they haven’t taken steps to [make] their business more acceptable,” said Oakley Walker, a sophomore theatre design and technology major. “I personally don’t support them. I feel like there are better places to get chicken that aren’t homophobic.”

There are many Emerson students, however, that are willing to look past the company’s troubled past. Junior visual and media arts major Devin McAlister said he first tried the famed chicken sandwiches in Phoenix, Az. when visiting his mother on vacation. 

“I’ve been having wishes where there should be a Chick-fil-A in Boston,” he said. “It’s all like my wish came true.” Ava, a sophomore interdisciplinary studies student who declined to give her last name, said that her own sexual orientation would not stop her from supporting the franchise.

“I grew up in the South, so it kind of reminds me of home,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of hate towards Chick-fil-A, but I’m gay and I’m still making that decision.”