On Thursday, leaders at restaurant chains began reaching out to customers via email about the coronavirus, providing information on how their companies are responding to the pandemic.
Every brand emphasized heightened cleaning and hygiene standards. At McDonald’s, that includes “enhancing our McDelivery procedures to ensure order packaging remains safe” before it’s filled, according to a letter sent to customers from McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger.
At Chick-fil-A, according to a letter from President Tim Tassopoulos, cleaning and disinfecting procedures have been “heightened” and franchise restaurants have been given recommended procedures to follow if their restaurant or community is impacted by coronavirus.
“From food safety to health and hygiene to cleaning and sanitation, we have allocated an abundance of resources into building chainwide guidelines that go above and beyond FDA requirements,” Tassopoulos said in the letter.
As NRN previously reported, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson clarified precautionary policies with customers, indicating that stores could begin limiting seating or going to drive-thru only.
Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti sent an email outlining extra measures the company is taking. The chain is providing sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer stations in its stores, and all condiments and utensils will be handed out by team members. The company also introduced new fully sealed bags for mobile, to-go and delivery orders.
Like Johnson, Garutti hinted at other changes that could come if the coronavirus situation gets worse. “As this is a fluid situation, you may see certain Shacks adjusting hours or modifying our operations,” he wrote. “There may even be moments where we temporarily choose to close a Shack if we feel it’s in the interest of the safety of our team and community.”
A letter from David McKillips, CEO of CEC Entertainment, parent to Chuck E. Cheese, indicated that that brand is also providing hand sanitizer stations at entrances. Additionally, the company is refunding deposits for anyone who wants to cancel an event booked through March 31.
Emails also came from Kim Lopdrup, CEO of Red Lobster, and Brett Schulman, CEO of Zoës Kitchen, outlining precautionary measures being taken at those restaurants and encouraging consumers to order delivery if they prefer to, or cannot, leave their homes.
These communication efforts come on the heels of restaurants already feeling negative economic impacts of coronavirus. Restaurants in Seattle, a coronavirus hotbed, have seen sales’ declines of 20%, according to Black Box Financial Intelligence. The hospitality analytics company expects that percentage to increase in the coming weeks.
The top 10 publicly traded restaurant companies also all saw declines, though some more dramatic than others. Those most hurt with falling stock prices were in the full-service and casual-dining sectors.
Contact Leigh Anne Zinsmeister at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @LeighAnneZin