Chick-fil-A Coming to Santa Barbara

Restaurant’s Anti-Gay Marriage Activism Causing Nationwide Flap

A Chick-fil-A franchise sailed through some final hurdles on its way to replacing the Burger King at 3707 State Street in the near future. A remodel to accommodate the new restaurant, which has incited controversy elsewhere due to its religiously inspired policies, was approved by the Architectural Board of Review (ABR) last April.

On Monday, the ABR approved changes to the remodel — with two boardmembers abstaining from the vote because of personal reasons, according to planning technician Tony Boughman.

Boughman had no more details on when the fast food restaurant would open, but said that they had all the approval that they needed from the ABR to proceed with the remodeling.

Chick-fil-A has about 1,600 fast food restaurants across 38 states and is rated by Business Insider as the 10th most popular fast food restaurant in the U.S. It was founded by S. Truett Cathy, now 91 years old, who opened the first branded Chick fil-A in an Atlanta shopping center in 1967. Along with its chicken sandwiches, the company is known for its “First 100” event, in which the first 100 patrons of a newly opened Chick fil-A franchise receive free meals for a year.

Cathy, a Southern Baptist, is known for bringing his religious beliefs to his business. This includes a long-standing policy of closing on Sundays to give employees a chance to have “a day off for family, worship, fellowship or rest” in order to “attract quality people” to work in his restaurants.

There is also recent controversy concerning the company’s millions of dollars’ worth of donations to organizations that work in opposition to gay marriage. Dan Cathy, current president, chief operational officer, and son of S. Truett Cathy, recently stated, according to a report in the Washington, D.C.-based Daily Caller, that supporting gay marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”

The backlash has included withdrawal of support by the Jim Henson Company and blockage of a franchise opening by the mayor of Boston.

The modifications approved Monday include expansion of the west side patio, added outdoor seating, and landscaping alterations. The existing drive-through will remain in place. The firm CRHO, which is responsible for the architecture of national chains such as The Olive Garden and Panera Bread, is the architectural agency heading the project. The McColm Family Trust owns the property, along with several other Santa Barbara retail properties.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was corrected July 25 to reflect that the two ABR boardmembers who abstained from voting did so for personal reasons, not scheduling issues.]

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