In a public relations stunt clearly meant to distract from the crush of delivery workers that crowd the sidewalk and street in front of Chick-Fil-A’s Upper East Side restaurant (as well as the anticipated crush outside the chain’s upcoming take-out and delivery-only UES store), the popular fast food chain is opening a pop-up rest stop on the Upper East Side this week that is designed specifically for delivery workers.
Dubbed ‘The Brake Room,’ because obviously a bicycle pun was necessary here, the pop-up will run for two months at 1477 Third Avenue, between East 83rd and 84th Streets, in the story Upper East Side retail building that Upper East Site previously reported would be replaced by a super skinny high rise.
According to a worker at ‘The Brake Room’ who spoke with Upper East Site, delivery workers will be able to store their bikes in the building’s basement while they take a break between runs, relax in comfortable seating, use the facility’s bathrooms, charge their phones, use free WiFi and even receive complementary beverages.
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Electric bicycle batteries will not be charged at ‘The Brake Room,’ per the employee, and the rest stop will not be open on Sunday — apparently because Chick-Fil-A thinks everyone in New York City, including delivery workers, is fundamentalist Christian who doesn’t work or order food on the sabbath.
The two-month pop-up rest stop is unlikely to affect the clogged up sidewalks and streets around Chick-Fil-A’s restaurant located at 1536 Third Avenue, between East 86th and 87th Streets, which Upper East Site has reported on in the past.
In response to the more than two-year-old problem of delivery workers blocking the sidewalk with electric bikes and mopeds while waiting for orders, in addition to double and triple parked cars waiting to pick up delivery orders, the restaurant’s operator went before Community Board 8 last month and did the equivalent of throwing up his arms and saying “we tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas.”
During January’s community board meeting, franchisee Jared Caldwell — who doesn’t actually own the restaurant, thanks to Chick-Fil-A’s unique sharecropper-style franchise program where operators only earn a cut of store’s profits — told the Community Board that he’s worked with the delivery apps to receive orders more quickly, so they can get those drivers blocking traffic their delivery orders as fast as possible.
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While the restaurant may be expediting orders more quickly, it has not made a visible impact on the congestion caused by the different groups of workers waiting to pickup delivery orders. Even crackdowns by the NYPD have not had any long-lasting effects.
Upper East Site inquired as to how the rest stop two blocks away would reduce the congestion in front of Chick-Fil-A when apps like Uber Eats, Door Dash and Grub Hub prioritize pickups by delivery workers who are physically closest to the restaurant.
We did not receive a response, however, an employee at The Brake Room said it wasn’t a place for delivery workers to stay all day.
Chick-Fil-A is also planning a second Upper East Side restaurant at 1528 Second Avenue, between East 79th and 80th Streets, that will only serve take out and delivery orders. Neighbors there have already expressed concerns about navigating sidewalks clogged with bicycles.
Neighbors are not allowed inside the new rest stop, according to Chick-Fil-A, which will exclusively be for delivery workers — so don’t bother popping-in to use the restroom.
The Brake Room opens its doors this Thursday, February 16th.
We’d tell you the hours, but Chick-Fil-A bizarrely requested they not be released until later this week.
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Yea, not really sure why this is portrayed as some sort of mega-problem by the writer. Clearly, the author has an issue with Chick-fil-A the corporation, but this, to me, seems to be a considerate approach and means for helping out delivery workers. And, as others have previously suggested, if people don’t like the congestion that’s been created by food delivery apps then they should advocate that people go pick up the food themselves rather than blaming businesses who are simply doing their jobs.
I find this whole thing bizarre. There has been a huge shift in our lifestyles, especially post pandemic. People are staying at home pretty much all day and they order out so they don’t have to leave their homes. That has lead to much more work for delivery persons and many more deliveries. If this is not to everyone’s liking, then maybe it’s time to venture out and pick up your food yourself. (Yes, I clearly don’t understand why people seem to be chained to their sofas these days. It’s New York. Venture forth.)