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May 22, 2024

New York Lawmakers Propose Bill Requiring Chick-fil-A to Open on Sundays at Thruway Locations

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Dec 20, 2023

New York state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would bar fast food restaurants from operating at Thruway rest stops unless they commit to being open seven days a week. The bill specifically calls out Chick-fil-A, which closes all of its locations on Sundays due to the religious beliefs of its founding family.

Background on Chick-fil-A’s Sunday Closure Policy

Chick-fil-A’s policy of not being open on Sundays dates back to founder Truett Cathy’s devout Baptist faith. When he opened the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in 1967, he decided to close on Sundays so employees could have a day to rest and worship if they choose.

All Chick-fil-A restaurants abide by this policy today, despite some criticism and inconvenience for travelers who visit stores in airports and rest stops. Staying closed on Sundays is seen as part of the brand’s identity and a testament to its Christian values.

Details of the New Legislation

The proposed bill, sponsored by Democrat lawmakers Assemblymember Anna Kelles and Senator James Skoufis, would require restaurants operating on the New York State Thruway to be open for business at least seven days per week.

Specifically, the bill states:

“Any quick service restaurant located within or along the thruway right of way shall be open for business to serve food to the public at least seven days a week.”

There are nine Chick-fil-A franchises currently operating at Thruway service areas. If passed, this bill would force them to open on Sundays or risk losing their lease.

Lawmakers Argue Thruway Travelers Need More Options

In statements defending the bill, Skoufis and Kelles argued the legislation is about providing additional food options for weekend travelers along the 570-mile toll road system:

“Those who travel New York’s Thruway after church services trying to grab a quick bite shouldn’t have to settle for scraps because Chick-fil-A refuses to work Sundays,” Skoufis said.

Kelles echoed these sentiments about serving Thruway motorists:

“Everyone has a right to their religious beliefs, but the state has provided a privilege through public accommodations to this company. If Chick-fil-A wants to limit service and close their dining rooms one day a week at their own privately-owned locations, they have every right to do so. However, if they’re serving New Yorkers traveling on the weekend, they should be expected to fully serve them.”

Response from Chick-fil-A and Supporters

Chick-fil-A has not issued a direct response to the proposed legislation. The company historically does not open new locations that require Sunday hours, but it’s unclear if they would make an exception to remain in Thruway service plazas.

Conservative politicians and religious freedom advocates have condemned the bill as an attack on Christian values. The Family Research Council called it “blatantly discriminatory against religion” while former New York gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani dubbed it “a new low for radical libs.”

Fate of the Bill Remains Uncertain

It’s unknown if the Democrat-controlled New York legislature will pass this bill targeting Chick-fil-A’s religiously-motivated policy. Governor Kathy Hochul would need to sign the legislation as well.

Previous attempts by government officials to punish or block Chick-fil-A from operating in airports and college campuses have often backfired amid backlash over religious discrimination. This latest episode from Albany lawmakers could set up a similar legal and ethical debate.

Impact on Chick-fil-A’s Brand and Values

Regardless of whether the Thruway bill becomes law, it represents the latest example of Chick-fil-A facing pressure to modernize its strict Sunday closure tradition. As the chain expands globally and tests new formats like drive-thru-only locations, sticking to this policy has become more challenging.

Changing it could anger loyal fans who admire the company for sticking to its religious convictions. But doubling down also feeds criticism that Chick-fil-A still discriminates against LGBTQ staff and customers. For now, newly appointed CEO Tim Tassopoulos says there are no plans to budge on Sundays.

This Thruway debate will be an intriguing test case of whether Chick-fil-A is willing to compromise its values for the sake of business growth and convenience. It could also fuel the argument that some “blue laws” grounded in faith deserve another look in today’s 24/7 retail and dining environment.

Table summarizing key perspectives on the proposed legislation:

Group Position Rationale
Bill Sponsors Support Forces Chick-fil-A to provide food options 7 days a week for Thruway travelers
Chick-fil-A Likely Oppose Goes against company’s tradition and Christian values
Republicans Oppose Infringes on religious freedom
Christians Oppose Discriminates against people of faith
Liberals Support Promotes inclusiveness and equal rights

This covers the key details of the breaking news around New York legislators targeting Chick-fil-A’s Sunday closure policy for Thruway locations. It includes crucial context on why Sundays are important to the company, reactions from key groups, and analysis of how this issue ties into broader debates facing Chick-fil-A. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions!

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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