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Delaware North stands firm: no Chick-fil-A at airport

Despite last-ditch negotiations on Monday, concessions operator Delaware North reiterated Monday there will be no Chick-fil-A restaurant at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

“The original story suggested that this concept was a done deal, when in reality, it was an option in early stages that we were looking into,” said Kevin Kelly, president of Delaware North travel. “In any market where we do business, it is important that we have the input and support of numerous members of the community, and it was clear that we did not. This was purely a business decision.”

Representatives of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and Delaware North met one more time Monday to discuss airport options after protests led by Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan, D-Buffalo, caused the concessions company to back down from original plans. NFTA officials unveiled the Chick-fil-A proposal for the airport on Feb. 28 while expressing optimism about its success.

[Related: NFTA can't block Chick-fil-A at airport, say civil rights advocates]

But Ryan countered the next day by calling for the NFTA to cancel the plans, citing controversy about the restaurant chain and the support by some company officials for organizations opposing same-sex marriage. Ryan said a public accommodation like the Buffalo airport, administered by the NFTA, should not host a company that he said had demonstrated bias.

While Chick-fil-A officials denied any bias, Delaware North said shortly after an NFTA presentation to its board of commissioners that it would not host the chain after all. Chick-fil-A, however, remains interested in expanding beyond its one location in Cheektowaga that opened in November.

“We are disappointed to learn of Delaware North’s decision not to partner with Chick-fil-A in Buffalo," a representative of the chain said early Tuesday. "We love our customers in upstate New York and are open to new opportunities there.”

NFTA spokeswoman Helen Tederous said Monday the authority now expects Delaware North, which has operated airport concessions since 1952, to soon return with a new plan.

[Related: NFTA bristles over Chick-fil-A criticism, points to Delaware North]

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