ALBANY — Amid a decline in travel, a major employer at New York State Thruway travel plazas has announced plans to lay off 165 of its 350 employees along the roadway.
Despite that, HMSHost says it is keeping the Burger King, Roy Rogers, Starbucks, Sbarro’s and Dunkin’ Donuts it operates along Thruway travel plazas open – but with fewer employees going forward.
The cuts were noted in a recent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN filing with the state Department of Labor. Under the federal WARN Act, employers with more than 50 employees must give notice of impending layoffs.
A leading airport and roadway food service company, HMSHost also had its contract with the Thruway Authority extended over the summer due in part to the pandemic.
In addition to Host, some Thruway service areas also offer McDonald’s and other eateries.
The pandemic has led to drops in passenger vehicle highway travel which have cut into the food service business at the rest stops.
As of July, there were approximately 112 million trips on the Thruway, compared to 153 million during the same period in 2019, making for a nearly 27 percent decrease in traffic.
Host has also, for the time being, closed its Starbucks at the Albany International Airport (Chick-fil-A and Silks are still operating at the airport on the takeoff side while Dunkin Donuts remains open on the on land side outside of the secure area).
HMSHost at the start of 2020 opted out of a decades-long arrangement in which it operated Starbucks coffee shops in airports and other travel centers.
The company will continue to run some Starbucks but it no longer has an exclusive agreement.
The HMSHost layoffs are also coming as the remaining toll takers on the state Thruway system are being replaced by an all-cashless system scheduled to begin operating in November.
The Thruway authority has said it is looking to find other state work for the few toll takers whose jobs are becoming obsolete.
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