NATIONAL REPORT — As individuals and businesses across the United States make adjustments to encourage social distancing and slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and coffee shops are adjusting their service by limiting patrons to takeout, drive-thru and delivery orders only.
The coffee giant shifted to a to-go model at all company-owned stores in the U.S. and Canada for a minimum of two weeks, starting March 15.
"As we all know, the situation with COVID-19 is extremely dynamic and we will continue to review the facts and science and make the proactive decisions necessary to protect our partners, customers and communities," wrote Rossann Williams, executive vice president and president, U.S. company-operated business and Canada, in a letter to all Starbucks' U.S. partners.
This includes a ban on in-store and patio seating as well as a modified condiment bar. Customers will still be able to walk up and order at the counter. They can also order via drive-thru, the "order ahead" feature in Starbucks' mobile app and delivery where available. The company also noted that it may establish modified "order ahead" handoff areas on a store-by-store basis.
Starbucks also expects to make temporary store closure or reduced operating hours for company-owned stores in high-social gathering locations, such as malls and university campuses, or in communities with high clusters of COVID-19 cases.
"Every community's needs are incredibly different," Williams said. "We want to make sure we play a constructive role by taking responsible actions, in partnership with the CDC and local public health authorities, so we can continue to do what's right for our partners and customers."
Dunkin' will reduce store hours and limit orders to drive-thru and/or takeout service only at all restaurants in the U.S.
"We have a saying here at Dunkin' about how we treat each other: We've got your back," wrote Dunkin' Brands CEO David Hoffmann in a letter posted to the company's website.
For the duration of this modified service, all seating and tables will be removed from dining and patio areas. The company has also increased standards on the frequency of hand washing and cleaning procedures, including disinfecting high-use surfaces and high-traffic areas.
"Our franchisees are taking care of their crew and managers, and are committed to providing a clean and healthy work environment for all employees," Hoffman continued. "To keep everyone safe, we are stressing the importance of social distancing in our restaurants."
More than 5,300 Dunkin' locations feature a drive-thru. Other options including on-the-go ordering and curbside pickup through the Dunkin' app and delivery through GrubHub and other partners.
"For more than 70 years, Dunkin' has been at the heart of the communities we serve, keeping America running and taking care of our guests. We are grateful for the dedication of our franchisees and crew members, who make our brand stand tall every day," Hoffmann said. "We're continuing our legacy of being there when people need us most by taking these additional steps to be your place of comfort during all of this uncertainty."
McDonald's USA closed seating areas, including the use of self-service beverage bars and kiosks, at all company-owned restaurants. It will continue to offer takeout, drive-thru service and McDelivery. It also closed all PlayPlaces at U.S. restaurants.
"Our decisions are guided by expert local and national health authority guidance," the company said in a statement posted to its website. "Additionally, we are complying with all local and state restaurant restrictions, where applicable."
McDonald's franchisees are being strongly encouraged to adopt similar operations procedures. This guidance is supported by franchisee leadership and expected to be adopted by the majority of franchisees, according to the company.
"Franchisee leadership completely supports the decision to adhere to social distancing guidelines and ensure that large groups of customers are not gathered together inside our restaurants," said Mark Salebra, National Franchisee Leadership Alliance chair. "We are committed to our role in supporting the communities in which we do business and protecting the public's health by shifting our operations to drive-thru, walk-in takeout and McDelivery."
McDonald's stated that it is committed to supporting its people and anticipates that most employees with scheduled shifts will be redeployed to support serving customers via drive-thru, takeout and McDelivery.
"It is remarkable how franchisees, suppliers, agencies and company employees have come together in recent days," said Joe Erlinger, president of McDonald's USA. "During these uncertain times that impact all of us in personal ways, our ability to support each other, our people and our communities will ensure we emerge from this crisis stronger than before."
Customers are encouraged to contact their local restaurant if they have questions about its status.