Chick-Fil-A, the popular restaurant chain known for chicken sandwiches, opened several of its Orlando-area restaurants on Sunday in order to feed people waiting in line to donate blood following the Pulse nightclub shootings, the Charlotte Observer is reporting.
Ordinarily, a fast food chain being open on Sunday isn’t news, but for Chick-Fil-A, it’s unprecedented. The company, owned by a devout, Evangelical Christian family, is traditionally closed on Sundays.
Nevertheless, last Sunday in Orlando was not a typical Sunday. Hours before the sun came up Sunday morning, a deranged individual with possible connections to the terrorist organization ISIS shot and killed 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. The shooting would later be confirmed as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
— Towleroad (@tlrd) June 12, 2016
By Sunday morning, long lines — hundreds of people deep — formed around Orlando-area blood banks, as people touched by the tragedy offered their precious blood.
— Superhero Of Steel❄ (@SuperheroSteel) June 12, 2016
As potential donors waited for hours, Chick-Fil-A employees of several Orlando-area locations made the decision, independently of the company’s headquarters, to open up their restaurants to serve food to the hungry blood donors. Employees were seen serving tea and chicken sandwiches to donors as well as law enforcement personnel in the area.
— AL.com (@aldotcom) June 14, 2016
In a Facebook post, the Chick-Fil-A location at 2885 South Orange Avenue wrote that some of its crew members were out & about Sunday, doing what they could do help.
“We are appalled by the senseless crime that was committed this weekend, but we are part of a community that stands strong and stands together! This morning we joined up with other local Chick-fil-A’s to donate Chicken biscuits and Orange juice to the police, first responders, and firemen who have been hard at work. We are proud to be part of a community that is #orlandostrong!”
Similarly, the Chick-Fil-A location at Lee Vista also posted on Facebook about their team members’ good work that day.
“A few members of our awesome team decided to go into work on a Sunday and make some food for people waiting in line to donate blood. We love our city and love the people in our community.”
Chick-Fil-A has, in the past, garnered criticism from the LGBTQ community and its allies over the company’s controversial stance on gay marriage, according to the Birmingham News. The company has made political donations to groups that oppose same-sex marriage, and company president Dan Cathy has been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage.
“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
That opposition to same-sex marriage has doubtless cost the company some opportunities. The Boston mayor, for example, vowed in 2012 to never allow a Chick-Fil-A location to open in the city. Local governments in Chicago and San Francisco expressed similar sentiments, and colleges across the country began re-evaluating whether or not they wanted Chick-Fil-A to operate on their campuses.
The movement eventually swelled into a boycott of the company, which was itself met with an equally-enthusiastic “buycott” — that is, a concerted effort to patronize the business — by supporters. The issue came to a head on August 1, 2012, when then-Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee organized a nationwide “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.”
Since 2012, the company has attempted to put the gay rights controversy behind it, and by 2014 had stopped supporting most of the organizations that oppose same-sex marriage.
Are you surprised that Chick-Fil-A locations in Orlando opened on Sunday following the Pulse nightclub shooting?
[Image via Shutterstock/Rob Wilson]