Chick-fil-A plans to open a second location in Montana after the state’s then-attorney general argued nearly two years ago in a letter to the company’s CEO that one restaurant just wasn’t enough.
“We are excited to be moving closer toward a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Billings,” a company spokesperson said in an email to The Billings Gazette.
Although the newspaper reported that America’s third-largest fast-food chain doesn’t have a firm date for the opening in Billings, the spokesperson said, “We look forward to joining the community.”
Billings is Montana’s most populous city with about 170,000 residents in the metropolitan area as of 2018.
The only Chick-fil-A in Montana now is in Kalispell, a popular tourist destination that is a seven-hour drive northwest from Billings.
According to the data site ScrapeHero, there are over 2,600 Chick-fil-A locations in nearly 1,200 cities across the United States.
Texas has the most with 439 sites, while Montana and Maine have the least, with just one apiece.
In April 2019, then-Montana Attorney General Tim Fox wrote a letter to Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy lamenting that the Treasure State had only one of his restaurants.
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“Politicians in some states may think it’s okay to discriminate against others based on their religious views, but that’s not how we do things in Montana,” Fox wrote in a Facebook post accompanying the letter.
In the letter, Fox cited decisions around that time by the San Antonio International Airport, as well as the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, to prevent Chick-fil-As from opening in their terminals.
The San Antonio airport was ordered to lift its ban this past September after the Federal Aviation Administration intervened, WOAI-TV reported.
Officials in these and other locations accused the Christian-led company of holding anti-LGBT views.
“I want you to know that Montanans don’t discriminate against others based on religious affiliation,” Fox wrote to Cathy in 2019. “That’s why I’d like to extend Chick-fil-A an invitation to expand its operations in Big Sky Country.”
“Politicians in other states may find it appropriate to use your company to evoke division and outrage, but rest assured, we won’t,” Fox added. “I want you to know Montana is open for business.”
In 2012, supporters of the LGBT community called for boycotts of Chick-fil-A after Cathy voiced his support for traditional marriage.
In July of that year, as the controversy regarding Chick-fil-A was reaching a crescendo, the company announced, “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
Chick-fil-A affirmed its commitment to treat “every person with honor, dignity and respect.”
However, the popular restaurant chain continued to be targeted because of donations by its charitable arm, the Chick-fil-A Foundation, to support groups such as The Salvation Army and youth camps run by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, both of which subscribe to the traditional view of marriage.
In November 2019, Chick-fil-A announced it no longer would give to these organizations and instead would shift its focus to charities that address the core issues of “education, homelessness and hunger.”
That same year, Chick-fil-A ranked No. 1 in a Market Force survey of customer satisfaction among American fast-food restaurants.
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