Delivery workers make life a little easier for time-crunched New Yorkers. This week the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A is returning the favor with an Upper East Side lounge exclusively devoted to delivery drivers.
The Brake Room, on busy Third Avenue between 83rd and 84th streets, offers drivers secure indoor bike docks, restrooms, wifi, and phone charging stations, as well as coffee and tea. To enter, delivery workers have to show proof of a delivery completed on a delivery app within the last week.
Chick-fil-A shared the following statement with AN ahead of today’s opening:
“During the last few years, the delivery function has become an integral piece of our business, particularly in major cities like New York City. The Upper East Side is seen as one of the highest delivery areas for Chick-fil-A and the highest number of Manhattan-based Chick-fil-A deliveries throughout the year in 2022 took place in December and March.
When designing the space, the team at Chick-fil-A wanted to ensure the space felt comfortable and welcoming to the delivery community so they could truly use it to recharge in between deliveries. With this goal in mind, it felt natural to celebrate and highlight the real faces of the delivery community within New York City.”
The Brake Room will be open from February 16 through April 13 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. AN reached out to the owner of the building, Noam Scemel, who shared that the partnership could continue past that date.
“We’re flexible,” he said.
The lounge is one potential perk for drivers who often work long hours without access to basic amenities. Last year New York became the first U.S. city to guarantee restaurant bathroom access to app-based delivery drivers, but workers and advocates maintain the city has a long way to go towards ensuring delivery workers’ basic needs are met on the job.
Low pay is an ongoing problem, as well.
The vast majority of the city’s 60,000 delivery workers are not restaurant employees or employees of third-party delivery apps like Grubhub or Uber Eats. Instead, delivery workers are independent contractors, meaning they are not entitled to certain worker protections—including a guaranteed minimum wage. According to THE CITY, after covering essential expenses like a bike, bike maintenance, and a cellphone, delivery workers earn about $11.12 an hour, including tips. (New York City’s minimum wage is $15 per hour.)
The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection proposed that delivery workers who contract with delivery apps be paid a minimum of $23.82 an hour plus tips by 2025, an amount that is projected to cover expenses and fairly compensate workers. The agency is now reviewing public comments on the proposal and expects to make a decision this month.