Bloomfield officials push back against approval for new Chick-Fil-A at Parkway rest stop
Town officials in Bloomfield are opposing a new Chick-Fil-A location that is slated to open at a rest stop along the Garden State Parkway in the town because of the chain’s past opposition to LGBTQ+ rights. They say that it goes against the town’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“I just can’t feel comfortable eating, giving money to someone who’s opposing my rights,” says Bloomfield Councilman Rich Rockwell. “For that to be on a publicly funded, state agency highway, that seems inappropriate to me. The Turnpike Authority has a core value of diversity.”
Officials say that allowing the restaurant chain, which has spent millions opposing same-sex marriage and measures for LGBTQ+ rights is contrary to the values of diverse Bloomfield and New Jersey.
“I am one of two openly gay council members on our council. I'm very proud to represent the LGBT community and I want to be a role model,” Rockwell says.
But it remains unclear what, if anything, Bloomfield officials can do to prevent Chick-Fil-A from setting up shop at the rest area.
The state Turnpike Authority, which also runs the Parkway, said that the restaurant’s contract isn’t with them, but with Applegreen – a food service company that operates most of the restaurants in the service areas.
A spokesperson for the authority said in a statement, "The Turnpike Authority expects that anyone doing business in its service areas will treat all patrons with respect and will abide by the standards of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination."
“If they're allowing it in Bloomfield, then they will probably be having them on other rest stops on the Parkway and the Turnpike in the future and they shouldn't be able to do that either,” Rockwell says.
He says that customers should know what a restaurant’s values are and what the restaurant is representing.
Chick-Fil-A claims they changed their charitable policies and are not giving new donations to anti-LGBTQ+ groups.
Media representatives for the chain did not respond to a request for comment from News 12.