NY Bill Targets Chick-fil-A’s Policy of Being Closed on Sundays

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A battle over Chick-fil-A’s “closed on Sunday” policy is underway in the Empire State. 

Some New York politicians are angry that Chick-fil-A doesn’t keep its locations open 7 days a week along New York State’s 500-mile Thruway. So they’ve introduced a bill in direct response to the beloved chicken chain’s Sabbath stance.

Critics contend the measure is aimed at interfering with Chick-fil-A’s plans to maintain its Bible-based policy at future restaurants along the NY Thruway.

The bill, introduced last month, is another salvo in the yearslong political battle involving the company, whose late founder Truett Cathy infused its business practices with his conservative Christian values.

Cathy decided to close on Sundays in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia. “Having worked seven days a week in restaurants open 24 hours, Truett saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest, enjoy time with their families and loved ones, or worship if they choose,” according to the company’s website.

In recent years, Chick-fil-A has been especially targeted by LGBT activists because Truett Cathy’s son Dan Cathy revealed his personal views against same-sex marriage.

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slider img 2If the anti-Sabbath bill is passed in NY, it would apply to restaurants with locations in New York highway rest areas. “While there is nothing objectionable about a fast food restaurant closing on a particular day of the week, service areas dedicated to travelers {are} an inappropriate location for such a restaurant,” the bill states. 

Chick-fil-A already operates at seven of the Thruway’s 27 service areas. Those particular restaurants would appear to be exempt from the 7-days-a-week policy based on current contracts, but new ones could be forced to open on Sunday.

State Assemblymember Tony Simone, the Democrat who introduced the bill told the AP it was intended to give New York travelers a variety of food options, instead of an effort to eventually push Chick-fil-A out of its rest stop locations.

“Look, if you want to eat fried chicken while traveling over the holidays, then Chick-fil-A should be open on Sundays,” Simone said.

The bill would appear to affect all future contracts for food concessions at transportation facilities owned by the state and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The bill was prompted by a redevelopment project underway at the New York State Thruway Authority’s 27 service areas. Once completed, the project will result in the rebuilding of 23 service area restaurant buildings, with new updates on the other four. 

Once the project is finished, Chick-fil-A will operate in 10 service areas on the Thruway, which all have at least one other food option and a convenience store open seven days a week.

SC Senator Declares ‘War’ on NY Bill

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) declared “war” against the New York state bill late last month. 

“This is war,” he posted to the platform X. He threatened to introduce legislation withholding federal funds from any state or city that required Chick-fil-A to operate on Sundays, according to The New York Times

He later blasted the proposed bill, calling the move “a blatant violation of this company’s constitutional rights,” in a post on Dec. 27. 

“ICYMI: New York is trying to force @ChickfilA to remain open on Sunday at state rest areas. This is a blatant violation of this company’s constitutional rights, and we’re not going to let that happen without a fight. Lend your voice and tell NY to keep their hands off OUR Chick-fil-A!” the South Carolina Republican wrote. 

Graham also showed up outside a New York City Chick-fil-A location to protest the bill. In a social media video, he said, “As I speak, New York is trying to pass a law requiring Chick-fil-A to stay open on Sundays at state rest stops. This violates the Constitution. This violates the religious liberties of all of us and the company called Chick-fil-A who tries to honor the Sabbath. Lend your voice to this cause and stand up for Chick-fil-A. We need to have their back.” 

New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey (D) who introduced a version of the bill in the state Senate told The Times the measure doesn’t concern businesses on Main Street, but addresses lawmakers’ concern about protecting rest areas for the public good. 

“We’re talking about restaurants on the Thruway that are meant to be open to provide food and nourishment, fast food or otherwise, when we need it,” Hinchey said. 

For now, Chick-fil-A’s existing Thruway locations appear to be locked in, CBS News reported. Chick-fil-A signed a 33-year contract with the highway system, and the brand’s Sunday closure was “factored into their tenant plan,” a Thruway spokesperson told CBS Moneywatch in an email.

Assemblymember Simone also questioned why Graham was “inserting himself in a state bill in a state that he doesn’t represent.” He said if Graham read the bill, “he would know that the legislation would not affect current Chick-fil-A locations, and certainly has nothing to do with the midtown locations where he has enjoyed his lunch the past couple of days,” Simone told the outlet in an email. 

CBN News reached out to Chick-fil-A’s corporate office for comment.  We’ll post their response here if we hear back. 

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