Coronavirus and Empty Restaurants

Brian Lutz
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Re: Coronavirus and Empty Restaurants

Post by Brian Lutz » May 12th, 2020, 9:17 pm

Alpha8472 wrote:
May 12th, 2020, 2:45 pm
Some Denny's in my area of the San Francisco Bay Area are closed. I am not sure if it is permanent. There are many open but with a wide range of hours for take out and pick up. Some are 24 hours and some close at 3 pm.

Mel's Drive In in the San Francisco Bay Area is doing car hop service at several locations since indoor dining is not available. The car hop takes your order at the car and they bring a large tray that attaches to your car window. It is wildly popular and people are coming from all over. They even have the old fashioned paper hats and bow ties.

Many restaurants should bring this back. Customers love this.
A few weeks ago when the lockdown was still in full effect here, my wife and I went to Burgermaster, a drive-in with a few locations in the Seattle area. They had to package everything to go, but other than that they were more or less operating normally since people eat in their cars anyway. The place was pretty packed when we were there, probably owing to it being one of the few places you could actually go out to eat.

storewanderer
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Re: Coronavirus and Empty Restaurants

Post by storewanderer » May 24th, 2020, 11:06 am

Yesterday I tried to eat at an El Pollo Loco. Banners posted and even a sticker on the door said OPEN DRIVE THROUGH TAKE OUT DELIVERY. The dining area was dark and parking lot was completely empty. No sign of any other customers or employees. I tried to enter the location and the door was locked. I shook it a few times, and nothing. No sign of anyone inside, either. I was going to try the drive through but after 5 minutes of observing zero activity, I got an off feeling and opted to just go elsewhere and buy food. The entire thing seemed to be creepy. The El Pollo Loco App would still take an order for the location (as either delivery or take out).

It is possible the drive through was open but the lack of seeing lights inside, anyone working inside and the overall lack of customers, along with the locked take out that was open according to their banner, just made me leave.

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Re: Coronavirus and Empty Restaurants

Post by cjd » May 24th, 2020, 12:02 pm

I haven't eaten inside a restaurant in two months since FL changed them to take out only. As of this month they can reopen for dine in at a certain capacity, but I'm not in a rush to go back. A friend asked me this week if I wanted to meet for lunch sometime soon, and I told them I wasn't sure yet. I know several people who have dined out multiple times already since the reopening. My guess is the virus isn't very prevalent here so likely as long as the seating is spaced apart, we'd be fine, but who knows.

The issue I see is eating in a restaurant means you're at the same table for 30 minutes or maybe an hour. If somebody else there has the virus and is spreading it, then the viral load will be worse than if you went to a store to shop for 20 minutes and were not around the same person the whole time.

I know some of the restaurants here have not reopened, and it's hard to tell which ones are open at all or are allowing dine in. Google is still showing a lot of them as take out only. This weekend I did see many of the restaurants had full parking lots.

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Re: Coronavirus and Empty Restaurants

Post by reymann » May 24th, 2020, 1:07 pm

restaurants in fresno have started reopening and right now a lot of people are still reluctant to eat inside a restaurant. some restaurants are taking temperatures before they seat guests.

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Re: Coronavirus and Empty Restaurants

Post by storewanderer » May 24th, 2020, 10:30 pm

I found an El Pollo Loco that actually had its inside open today so I went there. It was funny as I pulled up and there were about 7 cars lined up at the drive through, but inside was completely empty, and I almost left, but decided to park and try the door because of their sign that said open drive through take out delivery. And it was indeed open inside.

They had plastic shields up at the cash register, and the employee gave me my drink cup, lid, and straw. The employee got those for me using the same gloves she used to operate the cash register (I watched her put the gloves on before taking my order, so they were clean at the point she touched the cash register)... The drinks (soda/tea) were still self serve. The soda machines are contactless (hold cup against lever to dispense soda/ice) but the tea you have to pull the lever, but given that it was deserted in there I don't see much risk regarding that. Also the employee gave me napkins as those were no longer self serve. This was the first time I've purchased from a fast food place since March. Aside from the employees wearing masks and the lack of self serve paper supplies now being dispensed by the person who handles money and using the same gloves (how is this safer...?), I did not see much difference from the past. Well, there was the plastic shield. Which between the shield and the masks the order taking process was a little challenging with a lot of back and forth.

Inside the location they had at least, maybe more than, 50% of the tables closed, in a checkerboard type of fashion for open/closed.

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Re: Coronavirus and Empty Restaurants

Post by cjd » May 25th, 2020, 7:37 am

storewanderer wrote:
May 24th, 2020, 10:30 pm
I found an El Pollo Loco that actually had its inside open today so I went there. It was funny as I pulled up and there were about 7 cars lined up at the drive through, but inside was completely empty, and I almost left, but decided to park and try the door because of their sign that said open drive through take out delivery. And it was indeed open inside.

They had plastic shields up at the cash register, and the employee gave me my drink cup, lid, and straw. The employee got those for me using the same gloves she used to operate the cash register (I watched her put the gloves on before taking my order, so they were clean at the point she touched the cash register)... The drinks (soda/tea) were still self serve. The soda machines are contactless (hold cup against lever to dispense soda/ice) but the tea you have to pull the lever, but given that it was deserted in there I don't see much risk regarding that. Also the employee gave me napkins as those were no longer self serve. This was the first time I've purchased from a fast food place since March. Aside from the employees wearing masks and the lack of self serve paper supplies now being dispensed by the person who handles money and using the same gloves (how is this safer...?), I did not see much difference from the past. Well, there was the plastic shield. Which between the shield and the masks the order taking process was a little challenging with a lot of back and forth.

Inside the location they had at least, maybe more than, 50% of the tables closed, in a checkerboard type of fashion for open/closed.
Sounds about like it was at restaurants here in FL just before they shut down dining rooms. I remember going to two DQ restaurants and they were handing out the cups, lids, napkins, even condiments were behind the counter in individual packs.

As far as putting on gloves before taking the order, that makes no sense. If there's no direct food contact, they should just not wear them and either wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before they give you your cup or food items. Gloves at the cash register is just a waste of money. A lot of stores have told customers not to wear gloves also because they are spreading germs by wearing the same gloves all day instead of just going bare handed and using sanitizer.

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Re: Coronavirus and Empty Restaurants

Post by Brian Lutz » May 25th, 2020, 8:52 am

The local Taco Bell here just recently reopened their lobby for takeout orders (they had previously been drive-thru only). Not too much unusual to report, just a sheld in front of the cash register and hand sanitizer stations. In my experience Taco Bells tend to heavily prioritize drive-thru traffic anyway, so going inside most likely wouldn't be any faster.

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Re: Coronavirus and Empty Restaurants

Post by storewanderer » May 26th, 2020, 12:28 am

I was by a Chili's tonight around 5:30 PM and it had less than 20 cars out front. This is normally (well, before Coronavirus) a very busy location. It is the only chain restaurant in that part of town besides a ton of fast food (all of which were moderately busy at drive through, but the ones open for dine in did not have many people inside).

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Re: Coronavirus and Empty Restaurants

Post by Alpha8472 » May 26th, 2020, 3:02 pm

Many people are not confident enough to sit in a restaurant breathing in recirculated air for over an hour.

They need to switch over to outdoor dining. They could put tables in the parking lot and then add tents for shade.

I have seen some Applebee's with large outdoor patios with a roof. There were large plastic walls to protect against wind. They could try that approach.

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Re: Coronavirus and Empty Restaurants

Post by TW-Upstate NY » May 27th, 2020, 8:10 am

Outdoor dining is all well and good and may work where the climate is conducive to it more than a few months a year. Where I live, you're pretty much only talking about the spring and summer months and that's it. What happens to restaurants from say ealry-mid September to maybe April or May the following spring? They're in for a world of hurt.

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