Controversial U.S. fast-food chain Chick-fil-A is expanding, with its first international store opening in Toronto next year.

The Atlanta-based chain, which has attracted negative attention over the years for its anti-same sex marriage stance, already exists in Canada with operations in Calgary International Airport, but the Toronto outlet will be its first franchisee-owned restaurant.

"Toronto is a great city – with diverse and caring people and a vibrant restaurant culture with a deep talent pool," said Tim Tassopoulos, president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A in a release Wednesday.

"These strengths align perfectly with Chick-fil-A's focus on community giving, delivering a premium product, and working with passionate people that can grow with our company – making Toronto the perfect choice for international expansion."

Known for its original chicken sandwich and waffle fries, Chick-fil-A said it aims to open 15 stores over the next five years in the Greater Toronto Area, which the company says will create 50 to 75 new jobs per location. It will cost $15,000 to purchase a franchise in Canada.

The privately-held company was founded by S. Truett Cathy in 1967. It currently has 2,300 restaurants in 47 states.

Chick-fil-A received public backlash in 2012 after its chief executive Dan Cathy said in a media interview that same-sex marriage goes against the organization’s values.

"We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” Cathy told the Baptist Press at the time.