Several fast-food chains have started reopening their dining rooms as certain states have begun to lift their various Stay-at-Home guidelines. In an interview with TODAY, Tracey Johnstone, who owns seven McDonald's franchises in Florida, explained the extra steps they're taking to help ensure the safety of customers and staff alike.
"It's an opportunity, mixed with some fear in there, and we're getting on the other side where we need to be," Johnstone said. She also served on the company's task force in creating a 59-page document to provide other owners guidelines on how to safely reopen their dining rooms. Changes include plexiglass in front of registers and decals on the floor to help enforce social distancing. It also means no more self-serve soda fountains -- or at least they'll be monitored by an employee.
Fast food restaurants are a $250 billion industry in the U.S., and a big part of daily life for Americans who eat and work at them. @joefryer reports many of these businesses will have a new look and new rules when they reopen. pic.twitter.com/yY6WrxNgoL— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 15, 2020
Of course, there is the question of what to do if certain customers opt not to follow the guidelines that have been put in place. As Johnstone put it, they've "got some really good coaching in place for our teams to engage with those guests." Additionally, Jose Cil, the CEO of Restaurant Brands International, which owns Burger King and Popeyes, thinks demand will rise for in-store dining, but it believes it will be "measured," and can be done "responsibly and safely."
As various fast food chains begin the process of reopening their establishments beyond the drive-thru window, they're also dealing with the pending meat shortage. The shortage, due largely to coronavirus outbreaks among employees of meat processing plants, has disrupted the supply line and prompted some grocery chains to limit the amount of meat a customer can purchase. In Canada, McDonald's even pulled some items off its menu as a result.
"At McDonald's Canada, we are proud of our long-standing commitment to serve 100 percent Canadian beef and plan to continue our Canadian beef sourcing long-term," the company wrote in a press release on April 28. "However, due to unprecedented COVID-19 impacts on the Canadian beef supply chain, we are temporarily adjusting our supply to incorporate beef from outside Canada — from pre-approved McDonald's suppliers and facilities globally — in order to meet the current demand, effective immediately."