Memorial Day Weekend is here, and one local brand has decided to make the start of your summer plans just a little bit sweeter.
The Delaware-Valley based restaurant group Chickie’s and Pete’s has officially brought back their Free Toll Friday initiative, where they will pay for tolls (cash and EZ Pass) for all drivers at the Eastbound Egg Harbor, New Jersey Toll Plaza Exit on Friday, May 27 from 5 to 6 p.m. Even better, earlier that afternoon from noon to 5 p.m., Chickie’s and Pete’s will also give away free orders of their popular Crabfries at the Farley Plaza from The Crabfries Express Food Truck, plus host an outdoor celebration.
To pull this off, the brand has partnered with the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) and the Atlantic City Expressway. For the celebration specifically however, Chickie’s teamed up with local nonprofit The Patriot Fund to pay homage to the holiday.
As a release states: The Patriot Fund works to provide a world where our heroic veterans can return from duty proactively supported psychologically, emotionally, socially, and financially as they and their families re-engage into civilian life. They served us, now it’s time to serve them. And for those who can’t make the celebration, you can still donate to the organization through patriotfundinc.org.
“We simply could not be more excited to get back to kicking off and celebrating summer by paying for driver’s tolls again,” said Chickie’s & Pete’s Founder Pete Ciarrocchi in a statement. “This year we are celebrating more than the kick-off to summer. We are paying for the tolls to thank all those who supported us the past two years. Chickie’s and Pete’s customers supported us and now we get to return the favor.”
Ciarrocchi chose Memorial Day Weekend to pay the tolls as a way to honor his family’s military tradition.
“My dad and my uncles were all in the military,” Ciarrocchi continued. “In fact, my Uncle George, who was my restaurant mentor, won the Silver Star for bravery. He was quite the guy and I couldn’t think of a better way to honor him.”
At the kick-off party this Friday at Farley Plaza, Chickie’s and Pete’s and the SJTA invite Philadelphians to enjoy free food and beverages courtesy of Starbucks, Hershey’s Ice Cream, 7-11 Stores and Fresh Attractions from Apple Green (the food service operator at the Farley Plaza). Coca-Cola will also be on hand with their Monster Energy Drink.
Additionally on Friday at the party, face painting, a demonstration by The State Police Dog Search and Rescue Team and a display of Fire and Rescue Equipment from The Atlantic City International Airport will also be on site. In addition, children can visit with ambassadors from The Funny Farm, an animal rescue sanctuary for farm and zoo animals.
It’s been two years since Free Toll Friday was brought back from Chickie’s and Pete’s (which they originally started celebrating in 2013) and in the past, over Memorial Day Weekend, New Jersey could see at least one million people traveling throughout the state for the holiday. On average (according to a release) more than 285,000 motorists have used the Atlantic City Expressway alone between Friday and Monday (pre-pandemic), and Free Toll Friday is used as a way to say thank you to patrons for support.
For information on Free Toll Friday and the party this weekend, visit chickiesandpetes.com