I’ll admit that when I first saw the headline “New York Sues Chick-fil-A to open on Sundays”, my gut reaction was that this was a crazy idea. After all, a business should be able to decide its hours and days of operation.
Lesson learned: never react to a headline from any for-profit news organization.
The truth is somewhat less dramatic than suggested by the headline. It seems that the New York state legislature has put forward a bill requiring any restaurant wishing to operate at rest areas on limited access toll freeways needs to be open 7 days a week. Such restaurants, having near-monoply access to the traveling public, need to be open to accomodate the people paying for the roads. The rest stops are spaced dozens of miles apart, have limited space, and are typically very busy throughout the weekends.
So, the bill is not about Chick-fil-A’s corporate policy, nor about Chick-fil-A at all, but rather it’s about the state determining the rules for how to award contracts to restaurants wanting to operate on the state’s property. The bill would not impact current contracts, but would impact new ones or renewals. Sadly for Chick-fil-A franchisees, this opens the door for competitors like Popeye’s that have no policy forcing their franchisees to close on Sunday to accommodate their founder’s religion.
In other words, the New York legislature is just doing their job: looking out for the interests of their constituents that are using state-managed transportation corridors. The same rules would apply to any restaurant or other business wishing to lease space at one of the state facilities.
Sadly, doing his job is the last thing on the mind of pearl-clutching senator Lindsey Graham. Now that Graham is unable to play Trump lapdog for a living, at least not until his master returns to power, he needs to find some other means to pander to his deplorable base of South Carolina bible thumpers and knuckle draggers who are only too easy to manipulate.
“This is war!”, declared Graham, well known as a chicken hawk who never met a war he didn’t like that involves the blood of others. “Hands off OUR Chick-fil-A,” he bravely declared. Perhaps he’ll follow that up with “Give me waffle fries, or give me death!”
Graham used taxpayer dollars to fly to New York and go to a Manhattan Chick-fil-A for a photo op and subsequent tweet, not mindful of the fact that the bill would not apply to the Manhattan location, or any location other than a handful peppered on limited access tollways who wish to renew their lease.
Graham said if the bill goes forward, he’ll introduce legislation withholding federal funds from any city or state that requires Chick-fil-A to open on Sunday. That would seem to be a grandstanding move that Graham would lose, since the bill in question does not require Chick-fil-A to open on Sunday, or mention Chick-fil-A in any way. It only requires businesses that want to lease state rest stop space to be open on Sundays, and they are free to not apply for such a lease if their schedule preference is more important to them than the business opportunity.
Way to go, South Carolina. You should be proud that you keep voting as senator this drama queen who, when he’s not occupied with assisting in a coup attempt, can harass the people of another state into deciding whether or not their toll road rest stops should lease space only to businesses that want to, you know, conduct business, during busy travel days.
I think we can be sure that Graham would not object if the New York bill was requiring all restaurants to be closed on Sunday, as this would please his voters. We can also be sure he would not fly to New York to come to the defense of Muslim or Jewish owned restaurants that wanted to close at the rest stops on Fridays and Saturdays.
And, we can be confident that Lindsey would not come to the defense of Chick-fil-A if it had been founded by a high priest of Pastafarianism who insisted that rest stop locations should be able to flout the rules because Sunday is a day for spaghetti and meatballs, and worshiping ’round the Holy Collander.