Chick-fil-A wants to open at the Miami airport. Miami Beach tells county ‘Don’t do it’

A Miami Beach commissioner filed a resolution urging Miami-Dade County to rescind a lease by Jackson Soul Food to open a Chick-fil-A restaurant at Miami International Airport, citing Chick-fil-A’s alleged anti-LGBTQ practices.
A Miami Beach commissioner filed a resolution urging Miami-Dade County to rescind a lease by Jackson Soul Food to open a Chick-fil-A restaurant at Miami International Airport, citing Chick-fil-A’s alleged anti-LGBTQ practices. Miami Herald File

UPDATE: The Miami Beach City Commission unanimously passed the resolution on May 22 urging Miami-Dade County to rescind Chick-fil-A’s lease. “For many in the LGBT community this org has been synonymous with an anti-LGBT platform,” sponsor Michael Góngora said. “I and many in our community find this unacceptable.”

Chick-fil-A, the hugely popular fast-food chicken chain, wants to open at Miami International Airport.

While this may delight on-the-go fans of Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Club sandwiches, the plans have given at least one Miami Beach commissioner indigestion.

Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora placed an item on the May 22 agenda that urges Miami-Dade County to rescind a lease that has been signed allowing the company of open a stand at the airport.

The Next Miami blog first reported about the chicken and MIA controversy on Monday.

In Góngora’s resolution, filed May 16, the commissioner noted that Chick-fil-A has “become known for its exclusionary views on the LGBTQ community and gay marriage.”

The resolution notes that Buffalo Niagara International Airport reneged on plans to open a Chick-fil-A franchise after it received protests from the Western New York community and area politicians.

In March, The Buffalo News reported that after Democratic Assemblyman Sean Ryan of Buffalo lodged a protest over the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s plans to open an outlet at the airport, the food service and retail management company, Delaware North, that oversaw the planned opening of an airport Chick-fil-A, changed its plans within 24 hours.

Ryan cited the same concerns: Chick-fil-A’s alleged discrimination against the gay community.

A gay man is suing Burger King after he said a security guard at a South Beach location called him a slur and attacked him.The Burger King is located near Twist, the iconic South Beach gay nightclub.

In addition, city council officials voted to reject a contract extension for the Chick-fil-A restaurant at the Mineta San Jose International Airport, the San Jose Spotlight reported in April. The council members cited the chain’s contributions to organizations like the Paul Anderson Youth Home, the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes that they say have anti-LGBTQ beliefs.

Góngora’s resolution cites Chick-fil-A’s $1.8 million in contributions to these organizations as one reason the city is urging the county to cancel the lease.

“The city of Miami Beach has a long history of protecting and promoting the rights of LGBTQ individuals and has long refused to contract with businesses that support discrimination against the LGBTQ community,” his resolution reads.

San Antonio city council members also voted to block Chick-fil-A from opening at the San Antonio International Airport, Fox News reported.

Chick-fil-A emailed a statement to the Buffalo News to dispute the narrative surrounding the chain.

“We do not have a political or social agenda or discriminate against any group. More than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs represent the Chick-fil-A brand. We embrace all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity,“ the statement read.

The chain also issued a statement to Fox News concerning the San Antonio airport blocking on April 19: “We’ll leave politics for others to debate. Chick-fil-A remains committed to serving great food with remarkable service in our restaurants that are welcoming to all.”

Miami Beach’s resolution is not binding on Miami-Dade, however. It’s just an urge to quash Jackson Soul Food Inc., the franchise operator that won the bid to operate the Chick-fil-A at MIA, from opening the Chick-fil-A at the airport.

Miami-Dade County was planning to force MIA restaurants to get rid of auto gratuities, citing a 1975 code against soliciting a tip. Waiters say without auto gratuities they make little more than the $5 an hour minimum wage because few travelers tip.

Miami-Dade commissioner Barbara Jordan sponsored the no-bid deal for Jackson’s owners at MIA, which fellow commissioners approved in March. The no-bid arrangement came after Jordan and others objected to MIA issuing no-bid deals to a restaurant owned by Emilio and Gloria Estefan and a shop by Perry Ellis under an airport program seeking brands that celebrate “Miami flavor.” Jordan argued the effort ignored brands representing Miami-Dade’s black heritage.

On Tuesday, Jordan declined to comment on the Chick-fil-a controversy. But she said she supported Jackson’s “business” decisions.

“Jackson has a right to be there, and to make their business work,” she said. If Jackson’s owners want to sub-lease MIA space, “that’s their business decision.”

Miami Herald staff writers Douglas Hanks and Kyra Gurney contributed to this report.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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