If you own a restaurant or retail chain, then the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is a wonderful place to operate. There are lots of potential customers with plenty of down time and, as we all know from personal experience, you can charge about 2379423 times as much as you normally do.
So when Metropolitan Airports Commission made their pitch this week to business owners who may want one of the 50 available concession slots, they laid out the ground rules, one of which is that the shop must be open every day of the year. The airport doesn’t take a day off, so neither can they.
But Janet Moore of the Star Tribune points out the one exception to that rule: Chick-fil-A, the Christian-owned chain, doesn’t operate on Sundays. Even at the airport.
The Atlanta-based restaurant chain has remained closed on Sunday for nearly 70 years, a testament to founder Truett Cathy’s “faith in God,” according to the company’s website. That’s been the case at the Twin Cities airport for the past three years, as well, despite written rules to the contrary.
Some competing eateries, which do open every day, privately grumble that Chick-fil-A gets to play by different rules in the high-stakes airport concession game.
Why are they allowed to do this?
As much as some people want to claim Christian privilege (everyone wave to Reddit), it’s simply a business decision:
… said MAC spokesman Patrick Hogan, Chick-fil-A grossed $2.2 million in sales at the airport last year, “making it the third-highest-grossing quick-service unit at the airport, behind only McDonald’s and Subway.“So essentially, Chick-fil-A with a six-day-a-week operation is outselling nearly all other quick-service restaurants at [the airport] that are open 365 days a year,” Hogan added. “It is very popular, underpinning why it’s important to have national as well as local brands at the airport.”
So it’s not really that Chick-fil-A is breaking any “rules.” The MAC just has a certain barrier for entry. If you can surpass that by a long shot, as Chick-fil-A can, they’re going to give you more leeway.
Hell, if the Apple store wanted to be open in an airport a single day a week and managed to generate the sort of foot traffic it does at malls across the country, I’m sure MAC would be fine with that, too. But most companies don’t have the profits or loyalty of an Apple or Chick-fil-A. So their owners have to meet the guidelines set for business mortals if they want one of the coveted airport spots.
Hardly anything to raise a fuss about.