In an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, in March or April almost every state issued orders shutting down its restaurants for dine-in service. (The sole holdout was South Dakota.) Many restaurants simply closed completely, either temporarily or for good, but many more shifted their efforts to takeout and delivery — even those that had previously offered pricey high-end dining experiences in elegant surroundings. (You might be surprised at some of the famous names on this list of 18 fancy restaurants offering takeout and delivery during the coronavirus crisis.)
Many kinds of eating places, like sushi bars, Chinese restaurants, pizzerias, and delis, had of course already had vigorous takeout and/or delivery businesses. Now, though, in an effort to up their dine-out game, restaurants all over the country — neighborhood independents, famed temples of gastronomy, and fast-food chains alike — have come up with out-of-restaurant creative strategies to help increase business and serve their communities.
24/7 Tempo consulted food service industry sites such as Nation’s Restaurant News, Restaurant Business, Restaurant Hospitality, Fast Casual, and QSR Magazine, as well as local and regional news and lifestyle publications and restaurant websites, to learn about inventive dine-out-related promotions, technical innovations, and other initiatives introduced by restaurants as ways of helping to cope with the shutdown.
Restaurants in some states — among them Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Tennessee — are now slowly reopening for dine-in service, with restrictions on overall capacity and distance between tables and new safety standards for both employees and customers. (Here are every state’s rules for staying at home and social distancing.)
Some of the measures on this list may have evolved (and one was a one-time experiment). But even when restaurants everywhere are able to resume some semblance of normal service, it seems likely that many will continue to encourage takeout and delivery, both for their customers’ peace of mind and because they now have refined dining-out systems in place.