Chick-fil-A, the controversial Atlanta-based chain of fast-food chicken restaurants, plans to open its first Long Island location in Port Jefferson Station on Oct. 7, the company said in a statement Tuesday.
The first 100 local customers over 18 years old will win a “year’s supply of Chick-fil-A” in the form of 52 certificates for free meals, plus other giveaways. The fast-food line officially forms at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6—24 hours before the grand opening.
“Personalized customer service and freshly prepared food have been the hallmarks of Chick-fil-A since the day founder Truett Cathy opened his first restaurant,” said Stan Abrahamsen, local franchise owner of the location at 5184 Nesconset Highway. “My team members and I are committed to those same ideals.”
The store, which features a double drive-thru, is scheduled to be open 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Its dining room has seating for 126 customers and its parking lot can hold about 130 vehicles. It will create about 80 new full-and part-time jobs, with hiring underway.
Brookhaven town officials had approved the location on the site of a former auto dealership. Local gay rights activists have protested the move on the grounds that Chick-fil-A’s founder has publicly opposed marriage equality. Company officials have said it’s expected to be the first of many Long Island Chick-fil-As.
The restaurant will be one of more than 1,900 in 42 states, with the closest current location at New York University in Manhattan. Three years ago, Cathy said in an interview that he opposes gay marriage—a statement that sparked protests nationwide and highlighted his donations to groups sympathetic to that position.
“Chick-fil-A has a long history of being taken to task for its donations,” David Kilmnick, CEO of the Long Island GLBT Services Network, had told Brookhaven officials during a 2013 public hearing on the planned LI location, which Kilmnick opposes.
Cathy, who has made no secret of incorporating Christian values into his eatery—it’s closed on Sunday, so workers can attend church, for example—later expressed regret that his sandwiches had become a symbol of the gay marriage debate.
At the public hearing for the LI location, a company representative tried to appease the critics who spoke out against Chick-fil-A, known for their cow mascots urging patrons to “Eat Mor Chikn”
“We’re not anti-anyone,” said Scott Thigpen, Chick-fil-A’s director of restaurant development, at the hearing in Brookhaven. “We’re literally here to serve everyone with honor, dignity and respect. It doesn’t matter about their race, creed, sexual orientation.”