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Chicago Battles Chick-fil-A

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[Photograph: Adam Kuban]

When Chick-fil-A started opening outlets in the Chicagoland area last year, the fried chicken chain arrived with the kind of breathless enthusiasm one might expect if a top name chef decided to move in. Of course, it helped that the restaurant happened to give away free food for a year to people crazy enough to camp out all night in suburban parking lots. But even the store's first location in the city, which is located a few blocks from the Water Tower, has been popular since the moment it opened. Chicago, it seemed, had a deep fried chicken sandwich hole in its heart, and this Southern chain was more than happy to fill it.

Then, as you probably already know, the company's owner decided to make his stance against gay marriage very well known, and it now looks like honeymoon is over. First, a Chick-fil-A location planned for Logan Square was put on the ropes by Alderman Joe Moreno, who planned to block the company from getting a permit in his ward. Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel came out against the chain, claiming that "Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago values."

After the controversy broke, Lauren Silich, the owner of the downtown Chick-fil-A, posted a statement on Facebook claiming that the restaurant is "independently owned and operated" and has donated to "everything from churches to gay and lesbian organizations." She even invited Mayor Emanuel to the outlet to talk.

As for the suburban locations, they aren't facing the same kind of direct confrontation. According to the Chicago Tribune, Peter Breen, the Village Trustee of Lombard, wants to "endorse what former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has dubbed Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day." The controversy certainly isn't over.

But for those who simply want a fried chicken sandwich, hope is not lost. If you didn't notice, this morning Kenji posted about how to recreate the sandwich at home, and chef Jared Van Camp is getting ready to open Leghorn, which will specialize in the delicacy.

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