With people opting for takeout and drive-thru, do fast-food restaurants still need dining rooms?

Last week, McDonald’s executives gave franchisees guidance about closing indoor seating in U.S. counties where Covid cases are surging. Other fast-food restaurants, including Chick-fil-A locations in Alabama and North Carolina, have temporarily shut down their dining rooms and switched to pick-up, delivery, and drive-thru service only, due to a rise in Delta variant cases and ongoing worker shortages. That’s led observers to wonder out loud: Do fast-food chains still need dining rooms? Even if the pandemic doesn’t shut down most fast-food dining rooms forever, writes Michelle Cheng in Quartz, it’s likely it will reshape the fast-food industry in other ways. For instance, Taco Bell has added multiple lanes at some locations to accommodate the rise in food delivery app drivers. Wendy’s is betting on more people switching permanently to takeout; the company plans to open 700 delivery-only ghost kitchens by 2025.

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