Chipotle, McDonalds Join Growing List of Restaurants Embracing Off Prem

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Across the country mandated closures include restaurant dining rooms in response to COVID-19.

Chipotle, McDonalds Join Growing List of Restaurants Embracing Off Prem

By Anna Wolfe, Senior Editor - Restaurants - 03/17/2020
As it embraces a to-go only format for the time being, McDonald's is shuttering its dining rooms to customers.

As states around the country embrace the impose curfews and mandate closings during the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant industry is reacting to the changes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending all gatherings involving 50 people or more be canceled or postponed for the next eight weeks. 

The governors of California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio and Washington have mandated that restaurants temporarily shift to a carry-out and delivery format.

A growing list of cities are requiring restaurants, bars and venues to shutter to dine-in customers, including dining mecca New York City.

Chipotle and McDonald’s are among the latest additions to the growing list of restaurants, including Starbucks, to temporarily embrace a to-go only format chain-wide.

“Mandates have been put in place for restaurants to suspend in-restaurant dining in various areas of the country. Therefore, we have proactively made the decision to temporarily offer a ‘to-go only’ option in all 2,600 locations across the country to help combat the spread of COVID-19,” stated Brian Niccol, Chipotle's Chairman and CEO, in an email to guests.

McDonald’s USA is also shifting to a to-go only format for the time being. Company-owned restaurants have closed in-store seating areas, kiosks, and self-service beverage stations, instead shifting the focus to serve customers through the drive-thru, walk-in take-out and McDelivery.  Franchisees are “strongly encouraged” to adopt these same procedures.

“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, McDonald's National Franchisee Leadership Alliance Chair, in a statement. “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 take-out and McDelivery.”