When Chick-fil-A opens its first full-service outlet in New York City this summer, it will soon learn whether typical customer enthusiasm for its food can overcome the cultural hostility associated with its brand.
To date, the brand known for its tasty chicken sandwiches and advertising featuring cows pleading “Eat Mor Chikin” has only a single tiny outpost in Manhattan, located in a dining hall at New York University.
The Atlanta-based chain, now America’s chicken sales leader, will open a 5,000-square-foot store near Macy’s, at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 37th Street north of Herald Square.[more]
Guess who’s coming to New York this summer? https://t.co/V2OlLDXgvj
— Chick-fil-A, Inc. (@ChickfilA) March 11, 2015
The location will no doubt attract hungry shoppers and the double-decker busloads of tourists swarming the city’s famed 34th Street shopping district.
What it’s hoping it doesn’t attract is protesters, such as the widespread “kiss-ins” that ensued in response to the conservative brand’s outspoken stance against gay marriage.
“This location will allow us to serve fans who have been asking us to come to New York and to earn the opportunity to serve new customers, as it will be the first of many locations in the city,” said Carrie Kurlander, the brand’s vice-president of public relations, in an e-mailed statement to Fortune.
It’s hoping the issue has already receded with the American public and New Yorkers alike after comments CEO Dan Cathy made to USA Today last year, in which he stated, “We sincerely care about all people.”
Chick-fil-A—whose sales exceeded $6 billion last year, the same year its founder passed away—has 1,900 restaurants and is looking to expand into the Northern and the Eastern regions of the country, as well as major urban area. It is also hoping to win over the Millennial demographic, which has proven to be a tough target for other fast-food chains such as McDonald’s.
To appeal to younger consumers, Chick-fil-A has introduced new products including a grilled chicken line, as well as a sustainability commitment to sell only antibiotic-free chicken within five years. It is also finding ways to remove artificial ingredients from its buns and to eliminate disposable plastic from its stores.
Whether healthier eating will win over Manhattan remains to be seen.