This week, state lawmakers proposed legislation that would require restaurants in rest stops on the Thruway and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to be open seven days a week. The bill is aimed at Chick-Fil-A, the fast food eatery, which is in renovated rest stops on the Thruway, which is closed by company policy on Sundays.
Chick-Fil-A, as a matter of company policy, is closed on Sundays “to allow Operators and their team members to enjoy a day of rest, be with their families and loved ones, and worship if they choose.” The policy has been with the company since it opened its first restaurant in 1946.
As part of the remodel of the Thruway’s 27 rest stops, new vendors came into the travel plazas, including the chicken eatery. While Chick-Fil-A is only in 10 of the 27 new plazas, their inclusion has generated frustration over the Sunday policy and the company ownership’s support of anti-LGBTQ+ organizations.
In a statement provided to Capital Tonight, a spokesperson for the Thruway Authority said “as part of the new 33-year contract to manage these facilities, Applegreen is required to have at least one hot and cold food option available 24 hours a day at all locations. Chick-fil-A’s Sunday closure is a brand requirement which Applegreen factored into their tenant plan. When the project is complete, Chick-fil-A will operate in less than half of the service areas on the Thruway – all of which have at least one other food concept and a convenience store open seven days a week with up to three additional concepts and a convenience store at the largest and highest volume locations.”
The Assembly sponsor of the legislation, Democratic Assemblymember Tony Simone, of Manhattan, said in a statement that “not only does Chick-Fil-A have a long shameful history of opposing LGBTQ rights, it simply makes no sense for them to be a provider of food services in busy travel plazas,” and added “a company, that by policy, is closed on one of the busiest travel days of the week should not be the company that travelers have to rely on for food services.”
Democrat Michelle Hinchey, the Senate sponsor from the Hudson Valley, said “we need to ensure that [rest stops] remain reliable hubs, especially on the busiest travel days of the year. If one of the main food options closes for just one day, it not only inconveniences travelers but also puts a significant strain on the food spots that are open, leading to longer wait times.”
The legislation must pass both houses of the Legislature, both controlled by Democratic supermajorities, before it can head to the governor’s desk for a signature or veto.