Chick-fil-A in Decatur, GA
DECATUR, GA -- You wouldn't know it from the long line of cars wrapped around restaurant at lunchtime Friday, but the Chick-Fil-A in downtown Decatur has a bit of a PR problem.
The franchise is in the heart of one of Georgia's most gay-friendly communities. Like other Chick-Fil-A stores across America, it's enduring a backlash from customers offended by the stance of Chick-Fil-A's president, Dan Cathy, opposing gay marriage; and the company's contributions to anti-gay organizations.
"I'm going to miss the sandwiches. But I really just can't support those organizations," said Jack Regan, a Decatur resident who said he'd patronized the restaurant since it opened in 2005.
"I don't want my money to go to places that work against other people in my community," said Suri Raheem, who works in Decatur at Agnes Scott College. Raheem said she "loves" Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, but won't purchase any more.
The controversy compelled the operators of the Decatur restaurant to post a note
on a popular Decatur blog, Decatur Metro, distancing itself from the corporate position of its president.
"We know that some of our guests are upset by comments made by Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A Inc. He has made it clear to me those were his personal views, and that his intent was not to speak on behalf of every Chick-fil-A owner," wrote John and Cristina Crays, owners of the Decatur franchise.
The note, which was approved by Chick-fil-A's public relations office, doesn't repudiate Cathy's views, but invites customers to talk to the franchise holders about theirs.
The Decatur store has been in business seven years and customers say the Crays are well respected.
"They've been very kind towards me. And my gay friends as well," said Chris Blacka, who attends an art school in Decatur.
"The operators here in Decatur are fine people. They're good corporate citizens of Decatur," said Regan. "I'm just going to miss going to the store."
Cristina Crays confirmed that she and her husband wrote the note themselves. She declined further comment, saying she couldn't do so without approval from Chick-Fil-A's public relations department. That office didn't return calls Friday; Chick-Fil-A's vice president for public relations died suddenly Friday morning.
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Text from the Crays note has circulated on the store's Facebook page as well. Another Chick-Fil-A store in Hollywood, California has posted a note
on Facebook with similar language. Cristina Cray says it appears that store lifted language from the note she and her husband composed.