Empty tables in a restaurant in New York. AP Photo/Seth Wenig
As more cities and states across the country place restrictions on residents and discourage movement, restaurants are seeing a drop in customers. Restaurants are responding to the coronavirus outbreak by making it easier for customers to order pick up or delivery. These options continue to be a strong source of revenue for some locations.
To stop the spread of coronavirus, more people are practicing social distancing, avoiding large crowds and skipping nonessential travel. The decrease in group gatherings is affecting restaurants across the United States. For example, the Whatcom County Health Department in Washington has asked high-risk individuals to avoid “public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others.”
Chipotle to-go bag. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
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Some restaurants are seeing an increase in pick up and delivery because of the coronavirus and are trying to make it easier for customers to take advantage of these services. Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced today that it will offer free delivery from March 15 through March 31 on orders of $10 or more.
“Chipotle has also introduced a new delivery tracker to provide step-by-step real-time updates, so you can follow your meal from the restaurant to your location. Prior to placing their orders, Chipotle customers can leave special instructions for delivery drivers in the Chipotle app and Chipotle.com to limit direct contact,” Chipotle shared.
To allay customer fears about delivery drivers tasting their food, Chipotle is using a new tamper evident packaging seal. The company is also willing to accommodate customers who do not want to get out of their cars to pick up their food by offering them Chipotlanes, which are drive-thru lanes available in select locations for digital orders only.
Chipotle is one of many chain restaurants that is taking steps to make delivery and pick up better for customers who want to avoid dining inside during the coronavirus outbreak. Starbucks has announced it is monitoring cases on a community-by-community and store-by-store basis. If necessary, its changes may include “limiting seating to improve social distancing, enable mobile order-only scenarios for pickup via the Starbucks App or delivery via Uber Eats, or in some cases only the Drive Thru will be open.”
Some restaurants are offering discounts or special offers to encourage customers to choose delivery or pick up. Many consumers were already choosing these options for convenience, so alternatives to the dine-in experience will continue to be popular.