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Inside the all-new Clifton Springs Rest Area: Much larger than Junius location (video + photos)

  • / Updated:
  • Josh Durso 

For those who were underwhelmed by the Junius Ponds Rest Area along the New York State Thruway in the heart of the Finger Lakes, the newly-opened Clifton Springs Rest Area will elicit the exact opposite reaction.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Certainly, the Applegreen rest areas have their detractors, and will continue to have them. Are they all perfect? Was upgrading all of them necessary?

The answers are subjective.

We know the upgrades, which came through a type of licensing agreement that Applegreen paid more than $400 million to overhaul, operate, and maintain for a term of many years was a win for taxpayers.

The styling of the Clifton Springs location is like other locations, including its smaller counterpart in Seneca County. The difference, as noted at the start, is that it feels far less cramped and far more comfortable. Officials said decisions on rest stop size were based on foot traffic data at the old rest areas.

If you’re traveling through, and it’s busy, you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable sitting down for a while. The same can’t be said for the Junius Ponds location, which is so small and features so few seating options- that taking up any seat for more than 10 minutes feels rude.

Again, Applegreen got the Clifton Springs location right. If the Junius rest area feels too small, it’s entirely possible that visitors to the Clifton Springs location could feel like it’s too large.

Here’s one way of looking at it: The Clifton Springs Rest Area feels like a ‘visitor center’ and less like a rest stop. That’s going to be the major difference between large and small locations.

This one features all the typical fare, Taste of NY, an Applegreen convenience store, Starbucks – which was at this location before, and Shake Shack. However, it also features a Chick-fil-A, which during my visit Monday morning, looked as close to operational as it could get.

Officially, Chick-fil-A’s website says the Clifton Springs location will open April 6. However, around a dozen employees were working at the front of the restaurant early-Monday, giving the appearance that the new location could be operational before that.

In all, the Clifton Springs Rest Area is closer to the reality many imagined when the state announced that a complete overhaul would take place at those locations along the Thruway.