Chick-Fil-A has been named the nation’s favorite fast-food restaurant for the fourth year in a row, despite contributing to organizations that have campaigned against marriage equality.
The American Customer Service Index polled 23,000 consumers and scored fast-food restaurants on a 100-point scale. They ranked them on quality of food, variety of menu items, customer service and cleanliness.
The Georgia-based chicken sandwich chain scored the highest with an 86, a point off from its score last year. Second place was given to an “all other restaurants” category, or various quick-service eateries that weren’t big enough to be ranked individually. Panera Bread came in third place with 81, and Arby’s, Chipotle, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s were tied for fourth place.
(Chick-fil-A did not immediately return a request for comment).
Chick-fil-A’s sales increased 13.5% in 2018 to $10.18 billion up from $8.97 billion in 2017, despite opening only six days a week, according to a ranking of the top 500 restaurant chains by Technomic. It surpassed Taco Bell, Subway, Wendy’s, Burger King and Domino’s in sales.
Stil, the ACSI survey results were met with backlash on Facebook FB, +1.85% and Twitter TWTR, +0.43% amid Pride Month, with some pointing out the chain’s reported donations to anti-LGBTQ groups and calling out the chain on Twitter for its “homophobic bigotry.”
In March, ThinkProgress, a public policy research and advocacy organization, published a report revealing that in 2017, the Chick-fil-A Foundation donated more than $1.8 million to a number of groups that ThinkProgress said discriminate against LGBTQ individuals.
The chain donated $1,653,416 to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a religious organization that preaches anti-LGBTQ messages to college athletes and mandates a “sexual purity” policy for employees that bans “homosexual acts.” It also gave $6,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Georgia-based Christian home for troubled youth that teaches teens that homosexuality and gay marriage is wrong.
In 2012, the chain’s CEO Dan Cathy said he was “guilty as charged” for supporting anti-same-sex marriage efforts. The comments sparked boycotts and petitions. Cathy said he regretted his involvement in the gay marriage debate in 2014, but never apologized for what he said.
In April, the chain, with more than 2,300 locations around the country, was banned from opening a location at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in New York when the airport’s food vendor alerted Democratic assemblyman Sean Ryan, who refused to support the chain because of its history funding anti-LGBTQ organizations. In March, the San Antonio City Council voted against a Chick-fil-A outlet at San Antonio International Airport for the same reasons.
Shares of Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell QSR, +0.75% were up 32.4% for the year to date, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average, DJIA, +0.28% is up 14.5% and the S&P 500 SPX, +0.58% is up 17.24%.