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New Chick-fil-A sparks excitement and protests

Bright and early on Thursday morning, Chick-fil-A will open its doors to eager chicken sandwich fanatics but not everyone is happy about the fast-food chain’s grand opening.

At noon on Thursday, there were already 83 people camped out at the Chick-fil-A parking lot on State Street. Three miles away from the new restaurant, members of the LGBT community spoke out against what they call the chain’s anti-gay agenda.

A group of four friends were among the larger group that got to the restaurant at 5:30 a.m. the day before the grand opening. In this case, the early bird gets the chicken.

“Yeah, it’s a little crazy but you gotta live like that sometimes,” said Tony Cuevas, a Santa Barbara resident.

The first 100 people will get free Chick-fil-A meals for a year.

While the people staked out their spot in line, downtown at City Hall, another group of people protested the fast-food chain for what they said are anti-gay donations.

“This issue is much greater than a local franchise owner,” said David Selberg, executive director of the Pacific Pride Foundation.

Members of the LGBT community will protest the fast-food with the “Lose Your Appetite for Hate” campaign.

“It might just seem like a chicken sandwich to someone. It actually, part of their proceeds that come from each consumer purchase go towards their corporate office and then in turn are used for donations,” said Lauren Gunther, Pacific Pride Foundation.

Mackenzie Matthews of Huntington Beach has camped out in front of a Chick-fil-A five times before. She doesn’t think political views should play a part here.

“I don’t think it should taint a restaurant from being in their community,” said Matthews.

The owner-operator told NewsChannel 3 she believes the LGBT community has every right to protest and said she will serve everyone at her new restaurant.

“I personally welcome my door to anyone and hope that everyone feels welcome to come to Chick-fil-A in Santa Barbara,” said Carol Ruiz.

Unless the chain changes its views, the LGBT group won’t be eating there.

NewsChannel 3 was given a statement from the company regarding its charitable giving. It states, “While we evaluate individual donations on an annual basis, our giving is focused on three key areas: youth and education, leadership and family enrichment and serving the local communities in which we operate. Our intent is to not support political or social agendas. This has been the case for more than 60 years.”

The restaurant opens at 6:30 a.m. Thursday.

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