A contentious debate has emerged in New York State over a proposed bill, the Rest Stop and Restaurant Act, aiming to enforce seven-day operations for food and beverage services at various travel locations, including certain spots along the New York State Thruway. The bill has drawn attention for its implications for Chick-fil-A, known for its company policy of closing on Sundays since its inception in 1946.
The legislation, put forth by Democratic Assemblyman Tony Simone, seeks to mandate seven-day operations for service areas along the Thruway and New York and New Jersey Port Authority locations. Simone has voiced concerns about Chick-fil-A’s closure on Sundays, citing it as a point of inconvenience for travelers and questioning the appropriateness of having a business that operates on such a schedule at crucial travel hubs.
Simone, who took office in 2022, expressed reservations not only about the logistical aspect of Chick-fil-A’s closure policy but also about the company’s historical stance on LGBTQ rights. He argued that a company closing on one of the busiest travel days of the week should not be the sole provider of food services for travelers in these areas.
The controversy intensified as it was revealed that the state had previously entered into a contract with Applegreen, a convenience store operator, fully aware of its association with Chick-fil-A. Despite this knowledge, the state proceeded with the deal, paving the way for Chick-fil-A’s inclusion at Thruway stops.
Simone’s pursuit of this bill has ignited debates over its underlying intentions, with some viewing it as a political maneuver aimed at leveraging Chick-fil-A’s policies for personal gain. The situation has also brought to light existing issues surrounding the Thruway rest stops, including reported construction cost overruns and a contractor seeking a $260 million bailout earlier in the year.
The clash underscores the complexities surrounding business contracts, political motivations, and social values, sparking a divisive discourse regarding the balance between business operations, contractual agreements, and societal expectations within New York State’s travel service areas.