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Two Sides of the Bun on Santa Barbara Chick-fil-A Opening

Fans flock for goodies from Thursday's debut, while opponents call for boycott due to corporate policies

A group called the Lose Your Appetite for Hate Coalition held a protest Wednesday at City Hall, calling for a boycott of Santa Barbara’s first Chick-fil-A restaurant because of its corporate policies.

A group called the Lose Your Appetite for Hate Coalition held a protest Wednesday at City Hall, calling for a boycott of Santa Barbara’s first Chick-fil-A restaurant because of its corporate policies.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli | updated logo 7:24 p.m. |

Some people are literally salivating as the Chick-fil-A chain prepares to open its first fast-food restaurant in Santa Barbara on Thursday.

But others say they have no appetite for the company or its politics, which they contend support anti-gay and hate groups, and are calling for a boycott.

Both sides were busy Wednesday, with fans camped out in front of the restaurant at 3707 State St., and opponents holding a rally in front of City Hall.

The site was formerly a Burger King, and has been the topic of controversy in Santa Barbara since Chick-fil-A President/CEO Dan Cathy said he opposed same-sex marriage in an interview last summer. 

Architectural Review Board members abstained from a vote on minor changes to the Santa Barbara project, some because of personal opinions about the company, and were later reprimanded and forced to go through ethics training. 

None of that seemed to concern the dozens of Chick-fil-A regulars who showed up early Wednesday, and planned to remain overnight before Thursday’s grand opening. Many were there in hopes of scoring free meal coupons.

The fast-food chain has hosted these events for store openings for many years, and offers free-meal coupons to the first 100 people to show up.

Those camping out had to stay in the parking lot area from 6 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday, but were treated to meals from the restaurant and a DJ throughout the day, according to Barbara Klaus from Cypress.

She and her husband have attended more than 15 Chick-fil-A store openings over the years. They show up — even to openings hundreds of miles from home — not just for the 52 free-meal coupons, but for the fun, she said.

Barbara Klaus of Cypress and her husband camp out Wednesday for Thursday's grand opening of the Chick-fil-A restaurant at 3707 State St. in Santa Barbara. The couple have camped out at more than 15 Chick-fil-A store openings over the years. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
Barbara Klaus of Cypress and her husband camp out Wednesday for Thursday’s grand opening of the Chick-fil-A restaurant at 3707 State St. in Santa Barbara. The couple have camped out at more than 15 Chick-fil-A store openings over the years. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

She and her husband said they love the food, but usually give away the coupons to their children and friends.

“It’s just enjoyable,” Klaus said. “We meet a lot of nice people, there’s a DJ that comes and we play games.”

Many groups of people were using the building’s power to run their laptops. The building itself is open all day for people to use the bathroom and sit on the patio area.

Near the drive-through area, a group of young local men were playing ukuleles outside their small tent. 

They’re friends with the new store manager and decided to spend the day and night playing music and getting some free chicken. They said they were also invited to the restaurant’s premiere night on Tuesday.

“We love Jesus and chicken, so why not?” UCSB student Justin Huntsman said. “We love gay people, too. People are talking about the controversy that goes on, but frankly, we don’t give a damn.”

“Frankly,” his friend Ethan Davis chimed in, “it’s good chicken.”

Band mates and friends Ethan Davis, left, Justin Huntsman, Mac Montgomery and Ryan Ellis camp out at the State Street Chick-fil-A on Wednesday for the free chicken and to support their friend, who will manage the Santa Barbara restaurant. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
Band mates and friends Ethan Davis, left, Justin Huntsman, Mac Montgomery and Ryan Ellis camp out at the State Street Chick-fil-A on Wednesday for the free chicken and to support their friend, who will manage the Santa Barbara restaurant. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

However, the taste of the chicken was not on the minds of Chick-fil-A opponents who gathered downtown later in the day.

Representatives from the Pacific Pride Foundation, the Fund for Santa Barbara, Just Communities, UCSB’s resource center for sexual and gender diversity and Santa Barbara County Democratic Committee held a rally at City Hall Wednesday afternoon to protest the store’s opening.

The fast-food chain’s corporate policy mandates that the locally-owned franchise give half of its net profits to Chick-fil-A, Inc., where some funds go toward the company’s donations, they contend.

In the past, some of those donations have been given to anti-gay and hate groups, according to David Selberg, executive director of the Pacific Pride Foundation.

The groups have formed the Lose Your Appetite for Hate Coalition, and are asking community members to only support restaurants that have pledged not to donate money to anti-gay organizations.

Even though the new Chick-fil-A franchise is a local business, Santa Barbara money will be funneled to the larger corporation, and some of that money has been donated to hate groups in the past, said Lauren Gunther, Pacific Pride’s coordinator for the Santa Barbara Equality Project.

“Santa Barbara simply does not stand for the kind of donations Chick-fil-A has made,” she said.

There’s been no sign that the business plans to change its donating priorities, either, despite some media reports to the contrary, she said, sourcing an Equality Matters article.

Alan Goff, of Just Communities, asked residents to spend their money at local businesses that contribute to strengthening the community, not pulling it apart.

Tania Israel, president of the Fund for Santa Barbara board, said a growing number of local restaurants and community members are signing the pledge: “I pledge to not eat at Chick-fil-A because I do not want my money to support anti-gay organizations and certified hate groups.”

The coalition also sent a letter to Chick-fil-A president and CEO Dan Cathy asking him to sign a pledge to stop donating to anti-gay and hate groups, treat LGBT employees fairly, and treat every customer with respect.
 
The restaurant brings 70 new jobs to the area, and the camp-outs provide security, restrooms, a DJ to host dancing and games, and free food to those waiting for the opening, said Cindy Chapman of CP Communications. The chain is opening three other branches later this month in California.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




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» on 02.06.13 @ 08:08 PM

Now we know which local bands to avoid.

» on 02.06.13 @ 10:01 PM

LOO-ZERS!

ChickFilA is paying them to do that. No one would wait 30 mins let alone 24 hours for those WEAK sandwiches.

» on 02.06.13 @ 10:04 PM

Chick-fil-A and Dan Cathy Hates Gays. I won’t patronize a bigoted restaurant.

» on 02.06.13 @ 10:06 PM

Rodents carry 55 diseases, Ticks & Fleas carry Pathogens

» on 02.06.13 @ 10:14 PM

waiting on chicken and the grim reaper

» on 02.07.13 @ 01:48 AM

The right to be a Christian is still legal in America, I know the Democrats would love to kill their right to believe..What’s next for the wacky left..guns, making money, owning a business, paying off the national dept protecting our dollar which soon will be worthlees, Working hard to get ahead.

I hope this business explodes..good for them not to hid or be P.C wimps.

» on 02.07.13 @ 02:45 AM

Cathy Murillo and the coalition has pushed me to visit Chick-fil-A tomorrow. I vow to eat there once a month. I am not a Christian but support their right to practice their beliefs even though they don’t agree with mine. Viva la Chick-fil-A!!!!

» on 02.07.13 @ 05:16 AM

I wasn’t planning on eating there, but after looking at that picture of our left-wing charlatans protesting a business that actually employs people and contributes to our economy, I will be sampling their chicken fillet sandwich.

» on 02.07.13 @ 10:43 AM

It continues to amaze me how these members of the gay cult spew there hate of people with a different belief. All the while blameing someone else. “Such hipocracy”

» on 02.07.13 @ 12:27 PM

Where are the tough questions in this article?

“In the past, some of those donations have been given to anti-gay and hate groups, according to David Selberg, executive director of the Pacific Pride Foundation.”

What specific organizations received donations?  What dates?  What amounts?  How many times?  What organization gave the donations specifically?  What were the stated purposes of the donations?  What are the sources of the ‘facts?’

Does pro-family mean anti-gay?  Does pro-Christian mean anti-gay?

Is there something that Chick-fil-a did that is unconstitutional or illegal?

Why was the Santa Barbara Democratic Committee present at City Hall?  What is their agenda?  Are they taking sides? If they are a non-profit corporation, is this within their non-profit corporate charter to do so, i.e., protest against a for-profit organization?  Should the SB Democratic Committee lose their non-profit status for so doing?

You don’t have to be against gay rights to be against blackmail.

You don’t have to hate gays to be against the leveraging of PC thinking gone amuck. 

It appears that those with an agenda in SB are trying their best to pull one over on the citizens of SB and it’s important not to stand for this type of blackmail.

I have to agree with other commenters, I plan on eating there every month to show my un-support of this blackmail.

Think people, think!

» on 02.07.13 @ 12:57 PM

Right on Oldtimer. Too many loose ends on the part of the “anti-Chick-Fil-A” group.

Similar action by ABR members caused an ethics training requirement. Perhaps an ethics training requirement is in order for some of these “non-profits” and City Council members that actively participate in taking positions against a local business.

And BTW, the article quotes a representative as stating that 70 new jobs were created. But presumably Burger King had a similar number of employees before it closed to re-open in this reincarnation. So that is a net ZERO as far as job creation.

» on 02.07.13 @ 01:00 PM

This type of political thuggery has been going on for decades.  It is a FACT that this company has no anti-gay policies whatsoever, and that this behavior is directed at a private citizen’s personal values and beliefs.  This group who purports to be against hatred seems to be going out of its way to spread hate.  I’m getting so tired of this type of posturing.

» on 02.07.13 @ 01:08 PM

Excellent.  Can’t wait to get me a spicy chicken sandwich to spite all the haters who seem to think it’s cool or trendy to label someone’s religious beliefs as “hate”, and then hate on them (because that’s not hypocritical).

Where’s John Stossel when you need him?

» on 02.07.13 @ 01:33 PM

I invite you to read this article:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shane-l-windmeyer/dan-cathy-chick-fil-a_b_2564379.html

» on 02.07.13 @ 01:46 PM

They are the actual hate group, and they probably call themselves liberals…when will the insanity end?

» on 02.07.13 @ 02:01 PM

re: I invite you to read this article:?http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shane-l-windmeyer/dan-cathy-chick-fil-a_b_2564379.html

Although I have to admit, I usually don’t rely on HuffPo as a source, this is an article that is worth reading.  Why can’t we achieve this type of balance in SB?  Why does there need to be this agenda driven PC mania that overshadows so much?

Let’s hope that the dialog becomes a bit more civil here in SB.

Let’s hope that Pacific Pride Foundation, the Fund for Santa Barbara, Just Communities, UCSB’s resource center for sexual and gender diversity and Santa Barbara County Democratic Committee take note of the article and get in tune with some reasonable dialog.

» on 02.07.13 @ 02:34 PM

Oldtimer, we went through this already. I called on the local LGBT to provide factual proof of the hate they accused Dan Cathy of. Silence. I called on the local DNC to do the same, again, silence. I called on anyone who believes Dan Cathy to be a hater to provide factual proof and the silence was deafening.

The real hate is expressed by da face, the LBGT, the DNC and many who spew intolerant hatred toward anyone who disagrees with them.

Pollachick, I too read the Huff piece and was amazed. What Shane and Dan shared is a lot closer to what I have shared with many gays, friendship and understanding. Yes we still have our convictions and views but absent the hatred and misunderstanding and especially the animosity born out of political correctness and expediency.

I hope many others read that piece and discover that we are all people first and the only hate is what we make out of ignorance and fear.

» on 02.07.13 @ 02:54 PM

The hateful rhetoric being spewed by that group gathered on the City Hall steps is certainly counterproductive to their avowed goal of promoting tolerance.

» on 02.07.13 @ 03:31 PM

Thanks for the HuffPo link, http://tinyurl.com/ajboucy. It is an excellent article on how to get along, two men who disagree on fundamental issues speaking politely, sharing ideas.

Would that those who are so polarizing in Santa Barbara would read and understand it: foremost polarizer, Larimore-Hall; Councilmember Murillo, who seems to forget she represents all the people; even, sorry to say, Geoff Green of the Fund for Santa Barbara; and the others there.

I have no intention of eating at Chick-fil-A, but I do resent that this group was on the steps of the Santa Barbara City Hall just as I would resent an anti-gay/anti-civil rights group being there.

This is not a city-wide governmental issue. Did they get permission or a permit to be there? If so, from whom? That’s a question the councilmember should be able to answer.

» on 02.07.13 @ 06:02 PM

People used to defend slavery too.  We now see that gay people are people and deserve equality in every way. It will take a generation or so for people to realize how silly it once was the way we treated gay people. I feel sorry for the idiots like the management of Chik fillet, and also some of the commentators on here.

» on 02.07.13 @ 06:40 PM

I cannot support a company that discriminates against gays and lesbians.  Also who wants to eat factory produced chicken. The odds are too high that the chickens were given unnecessary antibiotics, and ate a diet of pesticide GMO laden grain. There is also a good chance that whatever factory farms these chickens came from kept the animals in inhumane conditions. I hope I wrong about that, but that is the norm.

» on 02.07.13 @ 06:53 PM

With regard to the inveterate polarizers who gathered yesterday on the City Hall steps, perhaps we should not attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity.

» on 02.07.13 @ 06:53 PM

Honestly, I have to agree that us on the left have really gone overboard.

I mean, I do disagree with Mr. Cathy’s opinions on the topic of marriage, but I don’t take those disagreements seriously enough to protest him or his restaurants.

Will I eat at this establishment? No, I won’t. I’ve eaten at Chick-fil-As in the past, and haven’t really cared for the food. That being said, I don’t see why I need to mask that under the auspice of “protest.”

If you want same sex marriage legalized, there are a lot more productive things to be doing that protesting fast-food restaurants.

» on 02.07.13 @ 10:18 PM

Peach said that “People used to defend slavery too.” What is interesting, and lost on most people, is that the Democratic Party was the one that defended slavery and was the origin of the Ku Klux Clan. The conservative or Republican Party supported freeing slaves and rights for black citizens.

How times have changed.

» on 02.07.13 @ 11:56 PM

We know that homophobia is one of the last tolerated, by some, forms of bigotry and discrimination.  Munching down all that hormonally-laced, genetically-modified-fed, profits-to-homophobia chicken parts will not soothe your guilt.

Your God will forgive you.

» on 02.08.13 @ 02:07 AM

I’m free to like and not like who I want. No group will dictate how I feel or treat others.

» on 02.08.13 @ 09:03 AM

You got my vote…..I wouldn’t part with my money to any company that isn’t liberal or open-minded….yes, progressive. Besides, why eat at a corporation fast food joint or whatever you want to call “Chick-fillet” - hate the name too.

» on 02.08.13 @ 12:35 PM

Larry Saltzman, can you provide one shred of evidence that the company, Chick-fil-A discriminates against anyone? You take a comment from its owner and then make a blanket statement about the business, how is that fair, tolerant, open minded? That goes for the rest of the hate mongering leftist liberal progressives who have commented here.

I find it odd that having an opinion on what marriage means is equivalent to “hate” and hating someone who you disagree with is equivalent to “tolerance”. The left needs to really take a deep long look at what has become of its ideology. The hate you see is staring back at you from that mirror you look in.

» on 02.08.13 @ 01:55 PM

Think about it.  In the last day, a well thought out article was posted that demonstrated the CEO of Chick-fil-a and a Nationally recognized LGBT leader in higher education; bestselling author; executive director, Campus Pride - Shane Windmeyer can reach a deeper understanding of each other and make progress on how to establish a dialog about this subject, as well as correct some operating deficiencies in the company.

Here, in SB, the so-called progressive component has made less than acceptable statements (shall we say hate-like) w/o offering evidence to substantiate their claims.  In fact the Shane’s article largely refutes what the locals are saying.  Why the disconnect?  Could it be the locals want their negative voices to be heard regardless of the facts?

I submit that the SB operation of Chick-fil-a will do it’s utmost to hire anyone who wants to work there, treat everyone fairly, refuse no one service… due to their personal choices re:LGBT, etc.  And, I believe that the CEO, again, based on Shane’s statements, has policies in place to insure that no one leverages Chif-fil-a for anti-LGBT purposes to the extent that they can control it. That’s a good thing, right?

Don’t we want other businesses to follow Chick-fil-a’s lead with respect to correct treatment of everyone?

So, my local progressive friends (of which I have many), let’s get off our high horses and come together on this, following Shane’s lead, shall we?

» on 02.08.13 @ 05:32 PM

Amen Oldtimer!

» on 02.08.13 @ 06:00 PM

Once again we see those seeking tolerance being thugs to those who have different beliefs.

» on 02.08.13 @ 06:08 PM

Interloper, Perhaps we can call it “selective tolerance.”

» on 02.08.13 @ 08:34 PM

Couldn’t have said it better oldtimer. Amen.

» on 02.09.13 @ 01:16 AM

Haters are those who won’t eat at chick fil A. You are missing out; they have the best healthy food. & their lemonade is the best! The fries, sorry jack in the box, Carl’s Jr. McDonald, this is good food! So is in & out!No wonder the lines are almost at the corner! No surprise to me! Good job Dan Cathy! & for speaking up to the truth…. Sad when those who insist on everyone believing & excepting their ways or else they are not gonna eat there or hold up signs. That is called hate…My friend who is gay told his partner he was gonna eat there, & his partner said go there & your stuff will be outside. Guess what he went & he loved it, he has to go home smelling like chicken. hahaha

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