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Wendy's Distances Itself from Chick-fil-A: 'We Proudly Serve ALL Customers'

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Following our post this morning about North Carolina Wendy's franchisee Jim Furmen's signs aligning his business with Chick-fil-A, we received tweets from Wendy's that it was looking into the matter.

Wendy's now tells us: "An independent franchisee posted the sign, which he’s taken down. We proudly serve ALL customers!"

Furmen reportedly owns 86 restaurants across North Carolina. It's unclear whether he had posted the Chick-fil-A sign at each and every one.

UPDATE: A Towleroad reader received this email from Amanda Domyan in Wendy's consumer Relations department:

"This is one independent franchisee’s personal opinion. We are proud to serve customers of varied races, backgrounds, cultures and sexual orientation, with different beliefs and values. Bearing that in mind, this franchisee has decided to remove the messages from his restaurant signs."

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  1. "...which he’s taken down..."

    how it probably happened

    Corporate Lawyer called the guy and reminded him about the franchise contract and gave him the option of removing Wendy's Sign from off all his outlets and off all cups, awrappers...etc....or remove the chick-fil-a stuff

    Posted by: say what | Aug 1, 2012 11:09:17 AM


  2. It's nice to see Wendy's corporate reacting so quickly. Suffice to say, if I lived in North Carolina, I'd make sure never to set foot in any of that bigot's locations.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Aug 1, 2012 11:11:07 AM


  3. That’s truly commendable, (Thank you, Wendy’s) but the real argument against Chick-fil-A isn’t about who they serve in their restaurants, it’s about the money the corporation funnels into anti-gay organizations such as the FRC.

    It’s an important piece of the story that the media seems to be missing...

    Posted by: ichabod | Aug 1, 2012 11:24:03 AM


  4. Totally unrelated, but 86 restaurants? Is that really necessary?

    Posted by: cindy | Aug 1, 2012 11:32:04 AM


  5. Can I just make the point that Wendy's DID NOT say they support same-sex marriage?

    The franchisee did not say he would not serve LGBT customers. For that matter, although they've left the impression LGBT customers are unwelcome, CFA has not said it will not serve LGBT customers.

    The franchisee's transgression, from a Wendy's corporate perspective, was putting the name of a competitor on a Wendy's sign. I wonder how they would have responded if this franchisee had posted "We support traditional marriage" without mentioning CFA.

    Posted by: james | Aug 1, 2012 11:33:23 AM


  6. I'm with James... Their decision is likely much more related to corporate compliance than embracing the equality of gay people.

    Remember, Wendy's founder, Dave, was a vocal opponent of gay adoptions, having been adopted himself.

    Posted by: Pete N SFO | Aug 1, 2012 11:41:20 AM


  7. @James I doubt that a worldwide company like Wendys is going to get in the business of being divisive & I'd bet they'd have had it removed with or without the competitors name.

    It's not smart business to divide your customers like Chick Fil A has done. No matter how many people show up today or tomorrow their brand is now tarnished. They have colleges protesting & wanting them removed and if nothing else Wendys is not about to pick a fight with college students.

    Posted by: sara | Aug 1, 2012 11:44:24 AM


  8. So, are we to eat at Wendy's today in protest of the Chick-Fil-A appreciation day? Because their food is gross as well.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Aug 1, 2012 11:55:57 AM


  9. I had figured it was an independent franchisee. Ever since Dave Thomas died and Wendy's added employment protections for LGBT employees, Wendy's has been my guilty pleasure so I'm not about to boycott them.

    Posted by: Sam | Aug 1, 2012 12:11:18 PM


  10. And didn't somebody predict this would happen?

    Sensible company.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Aug 1, 2012 12:21:15 PM


  11. @Sara. Perhaps. But had the franchisee not used a competitor's name, had the sign said "We support traditional marriage," Wendy's could have just as easily said "He's a franchisee and our franchise agreement does not prohibit him from expressing his views on a social issue."

    Unless, of course, it does, or says the sign can be used only to promote Wendy's products.

    I suspect they would have insisted it be taken down if he had put "Unlike Chick-Fil-A, we support marriage for all."

    Posted by: james | Aug 1, 2012 12:43:25 PM


  12. Adding to my last post . . . if he had put "Unlike Chick-Fil-A, we support marriage for all," and Wendy's had insisted the message be taken down, would we be all pissed at Wendy's for making him take it down? Would we be saying what a horrible anti-gay company Wendy's is? How they were stepping all over his First Amendment rights?

    I bet we would.

    Posted by: james | Aug 1, 2012 12:48:03 PM


  13. Wendys has about 7x as many locations as Chick-Fil-A. They're hardly about to get into a debate which would cause them to lose customers, but if they did, it would certainly impact them less than Bigot-Fil-A.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Aug 1, 2012 12:59:09 PM


  14. @James,
    Can I just make the point that Wendy's DID NOT say they support same-sex marriage?

    SO WHAT, as long as they are not discriminating against it, why does it matter if they support it?

    Posted by: Scott | Aug 1, 2012 1:04:48 PM


  15. Let's be stright up: I don't care if the owners of Wendy's supports gay marriage or not... as long as they keep their views and cash out of it.

    Posted by: Tarc | Aug 1, 2012 1:05:17 PM


  16. I think it's a little more than a PERSONAL opinion when it appears on 86 signs. That sounds more like a very PUBLIC opinion to me.

    Posted by: Johnson | Aug 1, 2012 1:21:55 PM


  17. Most personal opinions don't start with the word 'We'.

    Posted by: Felicity | Aug 1, 2012 1:28:53 PM


  18. I think Wendy's is too smart to allow anything on their signage that would divide their customer base. Even if they did not support gay marriage, I don't think they would publicy announce it. That is just not sound business logic. Then again, I thought the people that ran Chick-Fil-A would have had more common sense than to do something like that too. You don't do stuff to purposely piss off a segment of your paying clientele. What were they thinking???

    Posted by: Bob | Aug 1, 2012 1:31:59 PM


  19. @Scott and Tarc. So, then, your view is that businesses should stay neutral on the question of marriage equality? Interesting.

    That's the same thing the National Organization for Marriage said to Starbucks and General Mills when they took public positions supporting marriage equality, that businesses should stay neutral.

    Maybe they should. When they don't, I want their views and cash helping the side I support -- favoring marriage equality -- don't you?

    Posted by: james | Aug 1, 2012 1:40:05 PM


  20. I just sent this message to Caribou Coffee, a popular Midwestern coffee chain. Consider sending a similar message.

    Dear Caribou Coffee,
    I am a daily coffee drinker. I have spent a lot of money at Caribou. I am also a strong supporter of LGBT people, and the recent controversy with Chick-Fil-A has gotten me to look more closely into what companies I give my business to. I have been using the Human Right Campaign Buyers Guide, and I was shocked to see how poorly Caribou ranks (and how highly Starbucks ranks). It's such a disappointment to find out the company that you really liked does not support its LGBT employees. I'm afraid I'm switching to Starbucks until Caribou starts to improve its record.

    Posted by: bill | Aug 1, 2012 3:54:34 PM


  21. Home Depot supports queer rights, yet the local manager of one of our stores is a christer of the worst sort.
    Wendy's has non-discrimination against LGBT employees written into their corporate policy, yet one independent asswipe christer supports hatred.
    Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Oh, and as a vegetarian of many decades, I don't eat at any of these junk food 'restaurants'.

    Posted by: enough already | Aug 1, 2012 4:54:11 PM


  22. Will make sure not to give Wendy's any of my money. Chick-fil-A all the way.

    Posted by: Laughing at Butthurt Faggots | Aug 1, 2012 5:00:28 PM


  23. ACTIONS speak louder than WORDS. Has Wendy's given money to the same anti-gay groups ?

    Posted by: Icebloo | Aug 1, 2012 5:00:59 PM


  24. I only get the chicken sandwiches at Wendy's. Their spicy chicken sandwich pretty much rocks.

    Posted by: Grover Underwood | Aug 1, 2012 9:33:38 PM


  25. Chicken Sandwich
    440 calories
    16 grams fat
    1400mg sodium
    42g carbohydrates
    60mg cholesterol
    Deluxe Chicken Sandwich
    500 calories
    21g fat
    1650mg Sodium
    45g carbohydrates
    70mg carbohydrates
    Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe
    570 calories
    27g fat
    1790mg Sodium
    50g carbohydrates
    75mg cholesterol
    Chick Fil A, not recommended by 9 out of 10 cardiologists.

    Posted by: vanndean | Aug 1, 2012 9:35:19 PM


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