Restaurant Brands International Inc., parent to the Burger King, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Tim Hortons brands, is moving into reopening dining rooms with enhanced operations that allow for safety and social distancing, the CEO said Tuesday.
José Cil, CEO of Toronto-based RBI, said the three quick-service brands are enhancing operational procedures as they reopen dining rooms closed by state and city restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus.
“We have fully embraced the notion that parts of our restaurants need to change – certainly, for the foreseeable future and possibly forever,” Cil said in an open letter. “For instance, while we have mandated masks and gloves in the short-term, our brand and operations teams are now evaluating more comfortable and reusable masks that may become part of our standard uniforms.”
Cil said the three concepts have also expanded digital capabilities for the brands, including adding hundreds of units into delivery apps, improving the drive-thru experience, layering in mobile order and pay and offering curbside pickup options.
“There has never been a better time to embrace a business model that serves tens of millions of people a day with speed and limited contact,” Cil said.
Cil added that acrylic shields and contactless service are in most restaurants.
“We are maintaining a 'safe distance' rule in our dining rooms – whether communities require it or not,” he said. “We have designed beautiful tabletop signage to indicate which tables are open and which ones are reserved to help maintain safe distances. We will be sanitizing tables and chairs after each use and will have hand sanitizer available in the dining room for our guests.”
The brands have also turned off self-serve soda fountains and are providing extra condiments and trays from the behind the front counter.
“We benefit from a business model inside our restaurants that has minimal contact with anyone other than your friends and family who you are sitting with,” Cil said.
To create the new operations guidelines, Cil said RBI’s 30 most senior restaurant leaders from around the world have participated in daily morning calls for the past two months.
“We have all benefited from the diversity of voices and experiences available to help us quickly navigate so many difficult issues,” he said, noting that the brands’ early decision to take the temperatures of all team members at the start of each shift in North America was learned from colleagues in Asia, who were several months ahead dealing with operations in the coronavirus pandemic.
The operational changes were designed to establish confidence in the dine-in experience, Cil said, adding: “I believe we have the right balance between implementing essential procedures for the here and now.”
For the first quarter ended March 31, RBI’s posted net income of $224 million, or 48 cents a share, compared to $246 million, or 53 cents a share, in the same period last year. Revenues were down 3.2% to $1.22 billion from $1.27 billion in the prior-year quarter.
As of March 31, Restaurant Brands had more than 27,000 restaurants in over 100 countries, including 18,848 Burger Kings, 3,336 Popeyes and 4,925 Tim Hortons.
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