A new Chick-fil-A on Skokie Boulevard, which has been under development for a little under a year, approaches its opening day on March 9. Because of Chick-fil-A’s controversial political affiliations in the past, the Niles North community and Dance Marathon (DM) have debated the crucial question as to whether a company’s political activities should influence involvement or support of that company.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index Restaurant Report of 2016, Chick-fil-A is officially America’s favorite fast food restaurant. Chick-fil-A currently has over 2000 locations and many new stores are opening rapidly. The chicken takeover has begun, but because of Chick-fil-A’s muddled past some communities are averse to the chain opening in their communities.

Following a number of negative comments on gay marriage made by Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy, several LGBT activist groups urged for boycotts of the Chick-fil-A chain. This, paired with Cathy’s charity organization that frequently donated to anti-LGBT groups, birthed a great debate. Many enjoyed Chick-fil-A but felt morally obliged not to spend money there considering the political views they held.

Nonetheless, a month after the the Chick-fil-A controversy in 2012, Chick-fil-A spokespeople publicly stated, “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.” Following this statement, Chick-fil-A pulled all of their funding from anti-LGBT groups, which is also seen on their publicly released tax forms. The only contribution that Chick-fil-A continued that could be seen as slightly controversial was to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Following the controversy, Chick-fil-A thrived. Sales were up, and Chick-fil-A was able to escape altercation with seemingly little to no battle wounds. Still, as Chick-fil-A enters the Skokie community, a heavy debate is underway. Specifically, Niles North’s DM, which receives many donations and sponsors from local businesses, has thoroughly deliberated whether to collaborate with Chick-fil-A.

“If we were to have a meeting with the owner of Chick-fil-A and tell him that we wouldn’t want to partner with them, that wouldn’t do anything. The corporate business administrators aren’t gonna change their views because Niles North’s DM doesn’t accept their sponsorship. This would also sprout hostility between the independent owner, DM, and the views that were questionable in the first place,” Murtaza Ukani, a DM executive commented.

Still, varied views can be found throughout the fundraising efforts.

“The overwhelming majority of people voted that we should have a meeting with the owner to hear him out. In terms of my opinion, I am vehemently against the views of the broader corporation and do not think we should do business with anyone that is against equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation,” Jake Kramer, another executive in DM noted.

As Kramer said, DM’s final decision was to meet with the Chick-fil-A chain’s owner, voice their concerns, and make a decision from there.

“The operator of the newest franchise near school contacted us and wanted to know about the possibility of doing business with DM. We do not know this man and cannot make any judgements about him until we hear him out,” Kramer added.

Chick-fil-A’s newest location on 9341 Skokie Boulevard will be opening on March 9. For more information on the Chick-fil-A franchise, visit their site here.

Featured image by the Star Tribune