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Chick-fil-A Going International, Starting With Toronto

Chick-fil-A is going international, with their first stop being sunny Toronto, Canada.

Why Toronto? Frankly, it’s not too much of a switch from Upstate New York.

Chick-fil-A is setting their sights global. The fast-food chain that began in 1946 as a family-owned and operated fried chicken restaurant has saturated the US market. Chick-fil-A racked in over 9 billion in revenue for 2017 thanks to over 2,300 restaurants from coast to coast.

The Atlanta Georgia-based chain remains a family-owned business but has hit a bit of a snag in the US. Owned by the deeply religious Cathy family, Chick-fil-A has a number of corporate policies that can trace their origins to the Cathy family's brand of Southern Baptist fundamentalism. Every restaurant remains closed on Sundays, for example.

However, statements made by Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy landed the company in hot water in 2012 when he decried the recent Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage. That got the company locked out of many states that supported the decision. In order to grow, Chick-fil-A needed to find new markets.

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That new market is Toronto Canada. The company plans to open 15 new restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area over the next five years and is currently seeking owner-operators to open locations.

“Toronto is a great city – with diverse and caring people, a vibrant restaurant culture and a deep talent pool,” said Tim Tassopoulos, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A. “These characteristics align perfectly with Chick-fil-A’s focus on community giving, delivering a premium restaurant experience and working with passionate people who can grow with our company.”

The fried chicken purveyor follows a pretty standard franchise business model, although they tout their extremely low startup costs as a selling point (as low as $15,000 for a new Toronto location). Chick-fil-A says they’ll also build relationships with local suppliers and bring a total of 50-75 new jobs to each location opened.

Canadians will most likely find the whole “closed on Sundays” thing to be a mildly bizarre quirk. Whether or not the country embraces fried chicken to the scale and scope of the US remains to be seen, but with Kentucky Fried Chicken having long since fallen out of favor, now might be the best time to capitalize on a vacancy in the Canadian market.

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