Chick-fil-A said some restaurants in the “coming weeks” will reopen doors for carryout orders as it begins to modfiy dining rooms to support social distancing.
A majority of the brand’s more than 2,300 units have been closed for takeout from walk-in customers during the pandemic, which has forced restaurants to offer only to-go services.
“Although we are not opening dining room seating or playgrounds just yet, guests may notice changes inside our restaurants including plexiglass partitions and hand sanitizer stations available for their use,” the company said in a statement. “Restaurants will provide contactless ordering and ask guests to practice social distancing as they wait in line. Look for signage to help you navigate any operational changes within our restaurants.”
The Atlanta-based quick-service chain, the nation's third-largest U.S. restaurant company in terms of sales, joins a handful of QSR and full-service chains across the U.S. that have announced plans to reopen stores with modified formats, including Starbucks, IHOP, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse and BJ’s Restaurants.
Starbucks said it would reopen 85% of its company stores this week; 90% of its U.S. stores systemwide are expected to reopen by early June. In every case, each restaurant is modifying operations to meet local guidelines to keep employees and customers safe.
Like Chick-fil-A, Starbucks closed its cafes to carry out service shortly after stay-at-home orders swept the nation. Though restaurants were allowed to offer takeout, many chains kept dining rooms closed because it was hard to manage social distancing.
Starbucks said some stores will reopen for carryout, but pickup at some locations might be restricted to “hand off” stations set up at the entryway of stores. Shake Shack this week said that some of its stores will be modified to include drive-thru pickup lanes and walk up windows.
Industry executives have said they are adapting restaurants for a new normal during reopening phases. Major changes include the rise of curbside pickup and contactless ordering through digital channels.
Chick-fil-A, which has confirmed COVID-19 cases among restaurant employees in Texas, Virginia and Georgia, has been continuously evolving its safety measures in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Last month, the chain began installing portable handwashing stations near drive-thru lanes so workers can wash their hands more frequently.
Chick-fil-A has also started distributing “face coverings” to workers in accordance with federal health recommendations.
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