By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
NEW BALTIMORE — After a delayed opening, Chick-fil-A opened its doors at the newly renovated New Baltimore rest area on the New York State Thruway.
The rest area on the southbound lane of the Thruway in New Baltimore was closed in July 2021 for renovations as part of a $450 million project to redevelop 27 service areas.
The facility reopened in June, but the planned Chick-fil-A did not open up.
That changed last week when the restaurant opened its doors.
On Wednesday, after the lunch rush, a line of customers was queued up to try out the new eatery’s offerings.
“I’m glad to see it’s opened,” said traveler Ryan Miller, of Yonkers. “It’s nice to see another option, and the food is pretty good.”
The New Baltimore Chick-fil-A is the first to open in the local area. A new restaurant also opened recently in Clifton Park.
The company has a tradition of closing its restaurants on Sundays, and the same holds true for the rest area location. Chick-fil-A has held that tradition since it opened its first restaurant 77 years ago, according to the company website.
“Our founder S. Truett Cathy made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia,” according to a company statement. “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 or worship if they choose, a practice we uphold today.”
Signs advertising the rest area’s stores note that the Chick-fil-A site is closed on Sundays.
Some travelers thought a restaurant that doesn’t serve food on Sundays on a major travel route was not a good idea.
“Sunday is probably the busiest travel time on the Thruway and they opened a store that’s closed on that day?” said traveler Rachel Harlan. “That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Other eateries at the facility include Shake Shack, Starbucks, Applegreen C-Store — including Taste NY products — and a seasonal farmers market. All are open seven days a week. A Panera Bread is expected to open shortly.
As part of the Thruway’s rest area renovations, the old New Baltimore facility was torn down in 2021 and replaced with a new 20,145 square foot facility on the same site, between Exit 21B in Coxsackie and Exit 21A leading to the Massachusetts Turnpike.
The $450 million project, which remains ongoing, is renovating 27 service areas on the Thruway, with the New Baltimore facility one of 16 rest areas being renovated as part of phase 1 of the project.
Phase 2 of the project includes reconstruction of another 11 service areas, beginning this year.