Starbucks said on Sunday that it was “pausing” in regard to seating in its cafes to help create social distancing, a public health practice recommended to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The move is specifically for the brand’s company-owned stores. Stores will continue to accept orders placed at the register, through its app, at drive-thrus and through delivery.
Starbucks is the first major restaurant chain to announce this sort of drastic measure in light of the coronavirus. The move is particularly symbolic as Starbucks promotes its cafes as a “third-place” or gathering spot. This change comes as state and local governments across the country have begun mandating that restaurants close and move to delivery, takeout and curbside pickup.
“As part of communities worldwide, we are navigating this situation with nimbleness, learning and adapting as new information is made available,” said CEO Kevin Johnson in a news release.
For our most up-to-date coverage, visit the coronavirus homepage.
Additional changes to Starbucks stores include modified condiment bars and changes to some order-ahead handoff areas. The company also said it would close company-owned stores in high-social gathering locations, such as malls and university campuses and would temporarily close store or reduced operating hours in communities with high clusters of COVID – 19 cases.
Smaller chains are starting to make similar to-go only announcements. Just Salad, a New York-based chain with about 40 units, said it was shifting to 100% digital orders.
“In light of recent events, and for the safety of our team members and valued customers, we have decided that the best and most efficient way to serve food right now is through pickup and delivery orders,” said Just Salad Founder and CEO Nick Kenner. “This change will support the social distancing guidelines issued by government officials and allow us to provide the highest level of service.”
At Just Salad locations, pickup orders will be provided at the front door, fees for delivery will be waived and delivery zones extended.
Fast-casual chain &pizza, which has about 35 locations, also announced the decision to implement a carryout and delivery-only model. Delivery is free and contactless, the company said. It’s CEO Michael Lastoria also said it would provide free pizza for hospital workers.
Contact Gloria Dawson at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @GloriaDawson