Chick-fil-A has new locations planned for Marble Hill and Yonkers as the company expands its reach in New York.
The closed-on-Sundays fast food joint has been popping up across Manhattan since its first standalone NYC spot opened in 2015. The chicken sandwich franchise currently has no locations in the Bronx.
As part of expansion efforts citywide, the company hosted webinars in the fall to recruit owners and operators specifically for the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan, including a late September Bronx session that drew 80 online attendees.
A company spokesperson confirmed with the Bronx Times that a location at 76 West 225th St. in Marble Hill will open in the summer or fall of this year. The company touted the spot — a former Applebee’s — as its first Bronx location, though New Yorkers would disagree whether the neighborhood is actually part of the borough.
Technically the most northern neighborhood in Manhattan, Marble Hill is part of Progressive Councilmember Carmen De La Rosa’s Manhattan district, and used to be geographically connected to the island. But now a part of the Bronx mainland, the neighborhood is represented by Bronx Community Board 8, has a Bronx ZIP code and is part of the Bronx’s 50th Precinct.
Construction seems to be lagging behind schedule, as a Schimenti Construction Company sign on site has an anticipated completion date of Sept. 2, 2022. A work order on site issued for June 29, 2022 is set to expire March 2, 2023.
The future location will join shopping spots on 225th Street like Target, Marshall’s, Foot Locker and The Children’s Place, as well as Starbucks and Planet Fitness.
On Wednesday, shoppers near the site were surprised to hear Chick-fil-A had plans for the neighborhood, though they were happy about the prospect of the new food option.
“I’m excited now,” said Katira Semidey, a Kingsbridge resident out shopping with her family. “That means we don’t have to go all the way downtown.”
The company’s chicken sandwiches are popular across the country, with 2,600 locations across 47 states, Washington D.C., Canada and Puerto Rico.
Chick-fil-A’s corporate purpose reads: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
But while the company has a reputation for their crispy chicken sandwiches and friendly southern charm, it is also known for donating to groups that oppose LGBTQ+ rights. The company ceased donations to those groups in 2019, though the public had already known about them for years after former CEO Dan Cathy embraced anti-gay marriage views in 2012.
Cathy made headlines again after a widely cited 2021 Daily Beast report that named him as a high-dollar donor to the National Christian Charitable Foundation, which the report said was funneling money against the Equality Act — which would have brought protections for LGBTQ+ people and has only been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cathy’s son Andrew Truett Cathy just took over as CEO of the family-run company in November. The first Chick-fil-A was opened by the new CEO’s grandfather Truett Cathy in 1946 in Hapeville, Georgia.
De La Rosa, the local councilmember, denounced the company’s anti-LGBTQ+ past and said that while it was smart to stop donating to anti-gay groups, the stains from its track record remains.
“It doesn’t change their lack of judgment for supporting those types of organizations to begin with and I think that there is still a sentiment, or a feeling of uncomfortableness in the community,” she said.
When the company first opened in NYC, De La Rosa said she stood with an “outpouring of opposition” in solidarity with LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.
The city lawmaker is also concerned about the impacts of bigger corporations coming into the community at the detriment of smaller mom and pop restaurants — such as by taking away jobs and customers and raising rents.
While the Marble Hill location is slated to open this year, details on the opening of the Yonkers site remain murky.
Just this month, the Yonkers Planning Board approved a July 2021 application from Chick-fil-A to redevelop a former HSBC Bank site at 2205 Central Park Ave. and 10 Roxbury Drive to open the fast-food restaurant with a drive-through.
The application passed 4-0 on Jan. 11 with two members absent.
The Chick-fil-A spokesperson confirmed that it is “actively pursuing” a restaurant in Yonkers, but would not share other information.
But Christina Gilmartin, the communications director for Yonkers City Hall, said the developer’s goal is to open in 2024. Only site approval has been granted, and no permits have been filed for construction. Once construction starts, it could typically take 8-10 months to complete, Gilmartin said.
Advocates from Destination Tomorrow, a Bronx-based LGBTQ+ organization, said they were unable to comment on Wednesday and Thursday.
— E.T. Rodriguez contributed to this report
Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes