Tiny, Totally Unrelated Canadian Chain Chick-Felay’s Takes Hit in Chick-fil-A Controversy

The squawking has spread north of the border to a Canadian chicken joint with a strangely similar name

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ChickFelays.com

A Chick-Felay's restaurant in Brampton, Ontario.

They already had a tough time getting noticed – overshadowed by the similarly-named American chain – but metro Toronto chicken restaurant Chick-Felay’s has been unwittingly pulled into a gay-marriage controversy it didn’t create.

The furor was sparked, of course, by Chick-fil-A, the major chain based thousands of miles away in Atlanta, Ga., but Chick-Felay’s has been forced to assure incensed customers that they aren’t part of it. Chick-Felay’s staff was understandably confused when a few patrons accused them of working at a “discriminatory” company or refused to pay after ordering. ”The servers were like, ‘What’s going on?’” Chick-Felay’s founder and CEO Nabeel Khan told the Wall Street Journal. Before they could answer their ranting customers, though, they had to educate themselves on exactly what was going on south of their border.

Chick-fil-A has not-so-secretly sympathized with conservative causes for years, evidenced by its affiliated WinShape charity having donated more than $5 million to anti-gay groups since 2003. Every branch is closed on Sunday, and Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy often quotes the Bible, though he never spoke publicly about his social beliefs until June 16, when he said on the Ken Coleman show, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes marriage.’” Cathy has denied that the company has ever expressed prejudice in its hiring or serving practices, but nonetheless his comments incited a strong back-and-forth across political lines. And now, across geographic ones.

(MORE: Going Rogue: New Hampshire Chick-fil-A Will Sponsor Gay Pride Fest)

To be sure, Cathy’s company might encounter some cultural differences with Khan’s. Most of the Canadian company’s branches are halal-certified, approved under Islamic dietary regulations. And Chick-Felay’s serves more than just mass-produced chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. Their menu is based on Portuguese peri-peri seasonings born out of North Africa, and Afghani fare also claims a small spot on the menu, from Khan’s cultural home. But despite the breadth of Chick-Felay’s offerings, it hasn’t yet been able to gain much traction outside of the Toronto area – or even online.

A Google search for Chick-Felay’s surprisingly autocorrects to Chick-fil-A, and the Canadian chain boasts a paltry four restaurants (with a fifth on the way). Compare that to Chick-fil-A’s more than 1,600 stores across the entire U.S. – though there are none in Canada.

“How can they mistake us, when it’s a completely different logo, different colors, different menu, different name?” Khan told the Wall Street Journal. A business owner trying to drum up his own uniqueness can be forgiven for his incredulity. But really, it’s not a far-fetched confusion. For the average chicken consumer, the similarities are noticeable, and it’s not just because of the homophonic quality of their names. Each sports a hyphen in their name, red signage in a chicken-like scrawl, and, most crucially, chicken on the menu. But Khan would have the world know that he keeps politics out of his.

MORE: Chick-fil-A Mea Culpa: I Have Changed My Mind

9 comments
oblivion328
oblivion328

Ordering and then refusing to pay? I suspect some of these people are just faking outrage to get a free meal.

bellaluna30
bellaluna30

I worry about our society as whole; I really do.

pdxuser
pdxuser

"To be sure, Cathy’s company might encounter some cultural differences with Khan’s. Most of the Canadian company’s branches are halal-certified, approved under Islamic dietary regulations." Hahaha, a chicken holy war.

For the record, I don't think Chick-Felays copied the US chain's name. "Felay" is Arabic for valley. And the US chain is unknown in Canada, which also explains why Canadians wouldn't know that the Canadian chain's logo was different.

Fred Ferrett
Fred Ferrett

Go figure, a muslim owned chicken joint suffering the backlash against Chick-fil-A....... Considering their middle-east stance on homosexuality and how they treat them, up to and including death, they get no sympathy from me........But I digress, they're now a protected class and immune from public criticism.

aiirt
aiirt

 You are a racist bigot assuming everyone from middle east has the exact same thoughts like some robot.   You have completely removed his agency, to you he is just another Muslim.  This guy didn't even stay in the middle east (if he even from there), he left the country and moved to the west, obviously the middle east wasn't perfect for him!   And despite the laws being on the books in countries like Saudi Arabia, it is only Iran that actually still executes homosexuals, nowhere in the Arab world do they go this far. 

And the status of gay relationships in the middle east is much more complex than you understand.  It is an accepted cultural practice in many countries as long as you keep it private (it doesn't have to be a secret, just out of sight out of mind)

Revrant
Revrant

Damn, their food sounds really good, unlike the fried bacon garbage at Chick-fil-a.

Tod Thompson
Tod Thompson

Chick-fil-A actually has some of the healthiest offerings of any fast food restaurant, though it's no surprise people have no clue.   If they did they wouldn't be boycotting the wrong restaurant, lol.

Revrant
Revrant

 And some of the worst, I've been there, and it wouldn't matter how good their food was, donating to people who want to make being gay worthy of exile, imprisonment, and "re-education" camps would leave a sour taste in people's mouths all the same.

aiirt
aiirt

"and most crucially, chicken on the menu. "  

Like basically every other fast food restaurant, from Taco Bell's supreme chicken burrito to McDonald's McNuggets to Subway's Buffalo Chicken sandwhich.  Give me a break, don't come up with silly excuses for ignorance-based righteous indignation just because you agree with the political stance of the indignant.  What next, are you going to defend people vandalizing the homes of  pediatricians because they mistaked their job title for a word meaning child predator (this actually happened)?  This guy is trying to run a business; he doesn't deserve have his staff harassed because  of what another company completely out of his control did, just because it has a name that sounds the same, and some half-illiterates can't notice the significant spelling difference.