Chick-fil-A is planning to open Boston’s first location in Copley Square this winter, according to the chain.
The fast food chain will occupy the space at 596 Boylston St., where Boloco used to be. The location is hiring new employees.
“It’s our pleasure to confirm we will be opening a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Boston at 569 Boylston St. this winter,” a spokesperson from Chick-fil-A said in a statement. “We look forward to joining the community and to serving all of our guests delicious food in an environment of genuine hospitality.”
While Chick-fil-A has 16 locations across Massachusetts, including in Brockton, Dedham, and Woburn, the Copley Square restaurant will be the city’s first. In 2012, the chain tried to open a location in Boston on Union Street across from City Hall and Faneuil Hall. But the company was met with significant pushback from then Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the public on the heels of CEO Dan Cathy’s comments that he stood against gay marriage.
“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy told the Baptist Press at the time, adding that his company was “guilty as charged” for being a supporter of organizations rallying against same-sex marriage. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” he said.
Menino was particularly critical of the fast food chain and said in a letter to Cathy that it “would be an insult” to same-sex couples and “to our city’s long history of expanding freedom” for Chick-fil-A to locate in Boston.
“I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statement about your search for a site to locate in Boston,” Menino said in the letter. “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”
Northeastern University also blocked a push from the chain to open a location in the school’s student center that same year.
“We are proud of the decision that affirms our university’s commitment to be an inclusive, diverse community that is respectful of all,’’ college spokeswoman Renata Nyul said at the time.
Since Cathy’s comments, the company has said it does not condone homophobic views. In 2019, it ended donations to three groups that oppose gay marriage in an effort to halt protests against the restaurant and broaden its customer base. In September, Cathy stepped down as CEO, and his son, Andrew Truett Cathy, took his place.
“At Chick-fil-A, we believe all people should be treated with honor, dignity and respect,” the statement said. “We welcome everyone in our restaurants and are proud to be represented by more than 180,000 diverse Operators and Team Members nationwide. We strive to be a positive influence in our local communities, to serve ALL people.”
To mark the opening of the Copley Square location, the chain said it would contribute $25,000 to Feeding America.
“The funds will be distributed within the greater Boston area to aid in the fight against hunger,” the company said.