As food writers have pointed out, delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa are within striking distance of vaca frita and Cuban fried rice. But at least one group of Washington delegates has sought out another culinary experience that's nearly as exotic by Pacific Northwest standards: Dinner at Chick-Fil-A.
In response to the maelstrom of protest that erupted after the fast food chain's president and chief operating officer denounced gay marriage, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called for fellow conservatives to support Chick-Fil-A by eating there on Aug. 1. The response to "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" was tremendous, with customers creating traffic jams in Atlanta and standing in lines that snaked through food courts. But Washingtonians, who live in one of 10 mainland U.S. states without a Chick-Fil-A outlet, were left out of the event.
There aren't any Chick-Fil-A's in Oregon, Montana or the Dakotas. The closest Chick-Fil-A to Seattle is located on Boise State University's campus.
Ron Talcott, a delegate from Tacoma, told The News Tribune that he joined fellow delegates for a chicken dinner after a Monday night screening of Dinesh D'Souza's film 2016: Obama's America.
"On the way back to the hotel, many of us stopped by a Chick-Fil-A restaurant for dinner," he wrote in an e-mail dispatch. "We should have some in Washington. Good chicken sandwich!"
Kyle Curtis, the College Republicans' representative to the King County Republican Party's board, says he doesn't personally know any delegates who are making a point of eating at Chick-Fil-A during the convention. "I assume our Washingtonians are enjoying all sorts of local foods," he says.
But Tampa's restaurateurs complain that delegates are enjoying very little local food. According to an Associated Press report, tight security, nasty weather and lavishly catered events have prevented most delegates from wandering the city's streets in search of a meal. "This has been a ghost town," the owner of a salad, soup and sandwich shop griped. While Jeff Morzella typically serves 400 patrons on a weekday, he drew only 75 customers on Monday.
Chick-Fil-A did not return a message inquiring whether business was up its Tampa locations.