Will controversial comments hurt Chick-fil-A's sales? Some critics say yes

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by WHAS11

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 24, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 24 at 6:45 PM

Poll:
Will the comments on gay rights by Chick-fil-A’s president affect whether you will eat at the restaurant?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Chick-fil-A is being burned by critics after the company
president made a controversial statement about gay marriage.

Will the fast food giant be cut down to size because of it?

The Jim Henson Company cut all ties with Chick-fil-A because of their anti-gay marriage stance. The Muppets toys will no longer be in Chick-fil-A kids' meals. But how does it impact customers and the bottom dollar?

The Jim Henson Company flew the coop and withdrew their partnership with Chick-fil-A over a comment opposing gay marriage from president and COO Dan Cathy who said:

"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."

A statement on The Jim Henson Company Facebook page: "... we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors."

The head of The Jim Henson Company is a big supporter of gay marriage and will donate any remaining profits associated with Chick-fil-A to GLAAD.

How does this hit their bottom line? University of Louisville Business professor, Nat Irvin II, who lived through segregation decades ago said the company's stance is outdated in 2012.
 
"This came across as anti-people, anti-gay people. It's simply a bad business decision and social statement and it's not one that reflects the way America is now and will be,"
Irvin said.  

Consider this, Chick-fil-A, an Atlanta-based chain with more than 1600 restaurants in 39 states has annual sales of $4 billion, plus.

LGBT advocacy group, Equality Matters, says Chick-fil-A donated more than $5 million in the past eight years to Christian groups that oppose homosexuality. Many support Chick-fil-A's president. Thousands on Facebook. But some in St. Matthews say they won't eat there anymore.
 
"The world is a bigger place than that. There are other places I can go that are more inclusive," Harriett Northcutt said.

Amy Labriola, a concerned customer, said: "I think everyone should have the right to choose their own destination. Their own decisions."

Chris Hartman, with the Fairness Campaign in Louisville, said he hopes LGBT supporters will donate money they'd normally spend on Chick-fil-A to them.

"It's about investing in a movement that is built to deny the rights of a certain portion of America. That's not fair, not just and it's really not tasty," Hartman said.

Payton Knewasser, another concerned customer, said: "Very dated. Very dated. It's like people are coming out more now than before because it's a free country."
 
In the wake of the controversy over Chick-fil-A's president and his comments on gay marriage, the company released this
statement:

"The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena."

Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family."

"Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."

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