Will New York Force Chick-fil-A to Open on Sundays?

Will New York Force Chick-fil-A to Open on Sundays?

I bring this story up today less because the potential plight of hungry New Yorkers warrants our consideration than because the way that Chick-fil-A has handled this and other controversies offers us a helpful reminder of what it looks like to stand for Christ in a way that honors our Lord without compromising our Christian principles. One of the most important, yet difficult, aspects of being a Christian is the idea that Jesus has called us to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:14–16). Yet, this approach to our interactions with the culture around us was not unique to Jesus. Rather, it was largely a continuation of the call God had given the Jews as far back as the exile.

Chick-fil-A is one of the most profitable companies in their industry, with the average non-mall-based franchise generating $8.7 million in sales each year. By comparison, the typical McDonald’s generates $3.7 million per year. Overall, it is the third-largest restaurant chain in the country, and all of this despite their famous stance of only being open six days a week.

Now a new bill in the New York State Assembly is trying to change that by forcing Chick-fil-A—or at least the locations along their highways—to stay open every day.

As the bill’s authors argue, “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. Publicly owned service areas should use their space to maximally benefit the public. Allowing for retail space to go unused one seventh of the week or more is a disservice and unnecessary inconvenience to travelers who rely on these service areas.”

Assemblyman Tony Simone, who is one of the bill’s sponsors, put it a bit more bluntly: “You know, we get hungry when we’re traveling. We may not like our brother-in-law or sister-in-law’s cooking and wanna get a snack on Christmas Eve. . . . To find one of the restaurants closed on the thru-way is just not in the public good.”

Simone went on to add, “The Thruways are meant to serve New York travelers first. And I think it’s ridiculous that you’re able to close on Sunday—one of the busiest travel days of the week.”

While many would have responded to such charges in anger, to this point Chick-fil-A has seemed content to let the process play out and wait for the bill to force a conflict rather than to seek one out.

Fortunately, it looks as though it won’t come to that.

Chick-fil-A has already signed a thirty-three-year contract as part of a $450 million project to build twenty-seven service areas along the highway. Moreover, the project was funded without any toll or tax dollars, making it unclear how much say the state could actually have on which restaurants are placed in the stations and how those restaurants are run. And even if the bill becomes law, it stipulates that it would apply to future contracts rather than existing ones.

Couple those details with the fact that each of these locations includes other restaurants that are open seven days a week and it looks like Chick-fil-A is likely to remain closed on Sundays for the foreseeable future.

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