Just days after Chick-fil-A’s first restaurant in the United Kingdom opened and amid protests by activists about the company’s opposition to same-sex marriage, the chain said on Saturday it will close the site in six months.
The Oracle, the shopping mall where the restaurant leases space, told the BBC it would not allow Chick-fil-A to stay beyond its “initial six-month pilot period” and that it was the “right thing to do” after a call to boycott the chain by Reading Pride, a local lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender advocacy group.
Chick-fil-A said it had planned to stay for a limited time anyway.
“We have been very pleased with the lines since opening Oct. 10 and are grateful for customer response to our food and our approach to customer service,” the company said on Saturday. “We mutually agreed to a six-month lease with the Oracle Mall in Reading as part of a longer term strategy for us as we look to expand our international presence.”
Reading Pride had been outspoken about Chick-fil-A’s presence in England.
“We are staunchly opposed to Chick-fil-A setting up shop in the UK and certainly in Reading,” the group said in a statement on Twitter. “The chain’s ethos and moral stance goes completely against our values, and that of the UK as we are a progressive country” that has legalized same-sex marriage and “continues to strive toward equality.”
The statement noted that Dan T. Cathy, the company’s chairman and chief executive, was quoted in 2012 saying that Chick-fil-A believed in the “biblical definition of the family unit.”
Mr. Cathy’s comments came after news reports revealed that the company’s foundation had donated money to groups in the United States working to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage.
On Friday, Reading Pride announced that after talking with the Oracle, mall management “stated they will review their selection process and ensure a more thorough check is in place.” The mall did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.
Photos and video shared on Twitter of a protest on Saturday showed people holding a sign that read: “GET THE CHICK OUT. Say NO to bigotry and hatred on your High Street.”
Asked if the chain had plans to set up elsewhere in England after its lease was up, a company spokeswoman said, “We are always looking and learning, and do so through pop-up locations, but nothing else to share right now.”