By Angelina L. ’22 and Abby G. ’22
Although life in Boston looks far from normal, we are lucky to still be able to enjoy the food and drinks we love. Many restaurants have updated their services to include accessible online ordering and virtual menus, contact-free pickup, and social distancing signs on the floor. As the state moved through several stages of the virus, some restaurants have opened up outdoor seating available upon reservation, as well as a select few that even have indoor dining tables. Here, we have compiled a brief list of some well-known places that have continued to serve us during COVID-19.
A hub for handcrafted coffees and fruit teas, Starbucks cafes have fortunately implemented slight variations in their takeout procedures. Many Starbucks no longer allow customers to linger inside the store, so the only option is to order outside or ahead for pick up. At some locations, there are plexiglass shields at the online ordering pickup shelf so as to minimize contact between customers and their drinks. In certain locations the stores are open and so are the tables both inside and outside for customers to enjoy their food and beverages. It is generally expected that you keep your mask on at an indoor table when you are not eating or drinking. Ordering ahead has been strongly encouraged in order to minimize wait times and personal contact!
At our local Starbucks in Beth Israel hospital, the procedure is to either order ahead or order outside, as no one is allowed in the actual store currently. Upon arrival, customers say their name and receive their order directly from a barista at the door. Tia S. ’22 recently went to the Longwood Starbucks and said about her experience, “I felt it was a safe and effective method and I received my order efficiently. I was very happy with the service.”
The ordering process at Sweetgreen feels very similar to pre-covid times. When customers arrive at a store, there are clear signs on the floor indicating where one should stand depending on their method of ordering. For example, at the Chestnut Hill location, there are arrows pointing to the right to a pickup shelf for those who ordered online. To order inside the store, customers go instead to the left side upon entering; this enables social distancing protocols to be closely followed. It’s also important to note that most locations are not currently accepting cash.
The self serve drink and utensil stations have been taken away for sanitary purposes. However, they continue to serve single can soft drinks and bottled water, in addition to providing each customer with a package of utensils and napkins. There is no seating at Sweetgreen locations yet, so be prepared to take your salad to go!
At Dunkin’, not much has changed since Covid arrived. Few of its stores previously had much seating, but now all seating is certainly closed down. Everyone is required to wear a mask upon entering and practice social distancing while standing in line. Many stores have also put plexiglass shields in place to protect workers and customers. Whenever possible, customers are encouraged to use cards rather than cash. To promote online ordering, Dunkin’ Donuts occasionally offers special perks for those who use the app. For example, recently the store has come out with a new deal where app users can grab a medium iced or hot coffee for just one dollar on Sundays when there is a Patriots game. Not only does this perk allow for limited interaction between customers and employees, but it also brings spirit to Bostonians!
Panera Bread has put many safety procedures in place; however, there is also a slight return toward normalcy. You can now sit inside or outside of most Panera sites with socially distanced seating. If you want to grab a bite with friends, Panera may be a good option for you! When entering, there are arrows and Xs marking which direction to go and where to stand to remain safely six feet apart from others. Plexiglass shields have been placed at order counters, and there are often self-ordering stations, which Panera calls their order kiosks, available to limit interaction between employees and customers. For those who are wary during this time, ordering ahead is a great option; Panera offers curbside pickup at most locations. Customers who choose this option can get their food and drinks safely from the comfort of their car, and an employee wearing a mask will bring it up to the car matching the given description.
Going to restaurants and enjoying food, accompanied by friends and family, can be such a wonderful part of our lives, especially during the hectic school year. It is so great that restaurants have been able to implement various safety procedures. Whether you would like to order ahead to-go or dine-in at a restaurant, there is sure to be a perfect spot for you!