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Those using the New York State Thruway have seen McDonald’s restaurants closing to make way for new chains. It’s a $450 million change to the roughly 500-mile stretch for travel spanning from the extreme east to west of the state. One of the new restaurants is Chick-fil-A. While this seems a benign substitute, many travelers are unhappy with the controversial choice.

Why are New Yorker Thruway travelers upset about Chick-fil-A?

Chick-fil-A Closed Sundays sign
Chick-fil-A Closed Sundays | Getty

You say, “How can the country’s popular chicken restaurant chain be a problem?” Everybody loves the sandwiches, polite workers, etc. So what’s not to like? But Chick-fil-A has a huge built-in problem, and that is it isn’t open on Sundays.

While it’s the chain’s business when it will and won’t open, Sundays are the busiest day for travel and traffic on the Thruway. It’s the busiest with residents coming back from weekend treks. When the Authority said Chick-fil-A was one of the new additions to rest stops, some were fine, while others weren’t.

Wasn’t everybody aware of Chick-fil-A’s hours of operation?

Chick-fil-A restaurant line of cars
Chick-fil-A restaurant chain | Getty

Many thought, falsely as it turns out, that the chain would be open on Sundays. After all, you know, Sundays are the busiest, and it’s the Thruway and all that. Local news covering the recent opening of a Chick-fil-A at the Chittenango rest stop was told, “You might be thinking with the new Chittenango location being on the Thruway, the chain might lake an exemption for hungry Sunday travelers. That won’t be the case, it will close on Sunday.” 

And just like that, many became upset at the inclusion of a restaurant. “The Sunday closure is a brand requirement and one that Empire State Thruway Partners had to factor into the tenant plan,” a spokesperson told News Channel 9. “Empire State Thruway Partners explored a selection of restaurants and finalized agreements with specific brands to operate at the redeveloped service areas to enhance and improve the travel experience for our customers.”

There’s another Chick-fil-A problem

Chick-fil-A restaurant Enter sign
Chick-fil-A restaurant chain | Getty

How Did a Pickup Truck Flip in the Chick-Fil-A Drive-Through?

The Thruway Partners tried to smooth it over. It reminded New Yorkers that there is usually more than one place to eat at the rest stops. But this isn’t the first time the group has seen pushback for its decision. There was also opposition because of the company founder’s anti-LGBTQ posture, and support of efforts to marginalize this group.

“This move by the Thruway Authority, strikes us, as sending a message to LGBTQ+ individuals and families that it doesn’t share the same commitment to their civil rights as New York State,” read a letter made public to the Thruway Authority. “We are requesting that you re-examine the list of approved concessions for these rest spots considering Chick-fil-A’s action against the LGBTQ+ community.”

Political and moral arguments aside, it is curious. With so many food chains in the U.S., why is a restaurant closed on Sundays even a choice? For its part, Chick-fil-A says, “We want to be clear that Chick-fil-A does not have a political or social agenda, and we welcome everyone in our restaurants. We are proud to be represented by more than 200,000 diverse team members nationwide. We strive to be a positive influence in our local communities.”