Originally Published: 28 DEC 23 08:00 ET
By Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN
New York (CNN) — Several New York State lawmakers want to require restaurants at rest stops along the state’s 500-mile Thruway to stay open seven days a week to serve drivers, including Chick-fil-A, which famously closes on Sundays.
“The [traveling] public and commercial trucking industry rely on these service areas to rest, refuel and to purchase food and beverages,” the bill says. The bill mentions Chick-fil-A’s policy, and says “while there is nothing objectionable about a fast food restaurant closing on a particular day of the week, service areas dedicated to travelers is an inappropriate location for such a restaurant.”
Chick-fil-A did not respond to request for comment on the bill.
The bill does not apply to all Chick-fil-A locations in New York, or even impact the seven that are currently operating along the state thruway. While Chick-fil-A’s rest stop locations may have been the impetus, the bill instead would instead affect all future contracts for food concessions at transportation facilities owned by the state and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
But it has become a cultural flashpoint. Some Republicans have seized on it to claim Democrats are targeting Chick-fil-A, a brand long associated with Christian conservatism.
Right-wing lawmakers, including South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, have spoken out against the measure on Fox News and social media, calling it “insanity.”
Chick-fil-A has drawn criticism in the past for its donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations (a decision that it reversed in 2019). In 2012, former Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy spoke out against America’s legalization of same-sex marriage, which sparked boycotts from the left.
But New York State Assemblymember Tony Simone, who sponsored the bill, told CNN’s Abby Phillip in an interview that the bill “has nothing to do with religion” and came about despite Chick-fil-A’s record on LGBTQ issues, which he criticized as “terrible.”
“This is about making sure the thruways have rest stops that support and have our travelers be able to be serviced,” he said. “This is a consumer protection bill.”
Chick-fil-A’s tradition to close on Sundays dates back to founder Truett Cathy, a conservative Christian. Before he died in 2014, Cathy said he closed his restaurants on Sundays so that his employees could spend time with their families. The policy was also a way to reflect his faith.
“It’s a silent witness to the Lord when people go into shopping malls, and everyone is bustling, and you see that Chick-fil-A is closed,” he once told a reporter.
Cathy, a devout Southern Baptist, attributed his chicken empire success in part to his Christian faith. Chick-fil-A’s website includes references to God, writing the company’s purpose is to “glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us.”
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**This image is for use with this specific article only** A Chick-fil-A restaurant on NY State Thruway in Chittenango, NY.
28 Dec 23