Is it OK to eat there yet? QLife decided to find out by meeting the new owners of a local franchise.
We know what you are thinking… but before you start, just know that we were also nervous. It could have gone one of two ways, and we were prepared either way. We will fill you in on the backstory before we get to tell you about the day we met with the new Las Vegas franchise owners.Early last month our email inboxes saw an influx of questions asking us to find out if the Las Vegas LGBTQ community and our allies were going to plan a boycott outside of the new locations, or if we should still refrain from eating there. To be honest, we didn’t know what to tell people, so we decided to be fair and see what they had to say. We wanted to hear them out and then make a more informed decision on what to tell our readers.
The first step we took was to Google how to get in contact with the correct person. While we were on their website searching, we noticed that they had a section where you can request sponsorships for non-profit events. QLife co-founder Garrett Pattiani also serves as the Director of Events for Aid for AIDS of Nevada and thought this would be a great way to make the initial contact. Garrett thought that this would be a true test to see if they would be willing to participate in an event and presented it as an opportunity to get involved with the community. He filled out the form and received an email reply the next day saying that they would love to support the AIDS Walk. Their response was very nice, offering to donate items from their restaurant for the volunteers and the performers.
With this response, Garrett thought that it might be a great time to discuss the deeper question everyone wants to know… how do they feel about the LGBTQ community? It was time to see if they would be interested in meeting with QLife to discuss the anti-LQBTQ reputation that the company has. Were they ready to move forward? They said yes, and the tone was that they were excited at the opportunity to clear the air and speak to their experiences and thoughts on the topic. We set a date to meet, and we have to admit—it made us both a little bit nervous not knowing what they would be like or how it would go, After all, it was Chick-fil-A. Over the past few years, we’ve become good at finding winning solutions for other companies, so we brainstormed a bit on how to create a win-win-win for AFAN, for Chick-fil-A, and for the LGBTQ community.
I grew up in South Texas, and Chick-fil-A was always a family favorite. Garrett had never been to a Chick-fil-A because of the boycott. We headed to Henderson to meet the new franchise owners Dave and Dana Taplin. The Taplin’s own one of three new Chick-fil-A locations opening this year in Las Vegas. I chose to not check in on Facebook to avoid any social media backlash. Without the context of this article, the perception some of my friends and customers would be misinformed.
We started off getting the basic questions out of the way and learned that the couple moved to Las Vegas from Phoenix in December to open one of the new Henderson stores in January. They had left behind a mall location in Arizona to open their freestanding franchise location. Just before our meeting, Dana’s babysitter had canceled, so their two boys joined us for the meeting. The boys seemed much more interested in the Polynesian sauce than Mom’s meeting.
We had provided a little background on the LGBTQ boycott to Dave and Dana before our meeting and continued to educate them on some of the history. As franchise owners, they were aware of the values of the corporation—all Chick-fil-A locations are closed on Sundays—and were aware of the boycott from the LGBTQ community. As business owners, they make their own decisions when it comes to how they choose to give back to the community and were quick to say that they do not discriminate in their hiring practices and wanted to have a place where all people are welcome.
As Garrett and I enjoyed our sandwiches, nuggets, waffle fries, and fresh-squeezed lemonade, Dave clearly stated his position. As the owner of the franchise, he’s looking to provide every customer a great experience and hire great employees to do that. He and Dana moved their family here to become a part of this community, and their reply in support to AFAN was a part of that.
The LGBTQ boycott against Chick-fil-A and allegedly started when the CEO of the company gave money to an anti-LGBT organization. Yet most of the stores are independent franchises owned by small business owners like Dave and Dana. If the money they give goes to the pockets of the owner who made the statements against marriage equality, then should we be supporting them? The answer many people think is yes. This led us to investigate the current stance and if he had, in fact, learned his lesson on his previous remarks.
We found the company's official stance on their Facebook page:
In recent years, the LGBTQ community experienced incredible strides on the road to equality. Even as we gained equality, we did not gain consensus. There are still many people in this country that oppose our very existence, much less our right to love who we choose. Many fear the current administration will cause erosion of these gains.
It’s imperative to note that boycotting is a huge part of gay history, specifically in gayborhoods across the US, such as the Castro in San Francisco and the strategy used to support businesses that served the LGBTQ community and eventually led to the election of Harvey Milk.
How does this method work in today’s world? We can now send a message that can go viral on Social Media. We can communicate openly and gain national support almost immediately. It’s important to ask ourselves is that if the goal is to change hearts and minds, when we do it—when do we forgive?
To show their true effort to this mission, Dave and Dana’s store has formed a team and will be walking at the AIDS Walk. They are literally taking the first steps into our community. Will you walk beside them and welcome them? Will you shun them for someone else’s choices made years ago?
Has the LGBTQ community become so self-righteous that they hold a grudge for so long they forget why? The purpose of a boycott is to incite change. We did.
We think that it’s time to eat the chikin.