How Burger King Plans to Keep Guests, Employees Safe as it Reopens

    The company plans to welcome back "millions of guests to dine-in," it said.

    Burger King sign outside.
    flickr: Mike Mozart
    Employees are mandated to wear masks and gloves.

    With more than 50 percent of states having already reopened dining rooms or planning to do so before Memorial Day, Burger King parent Restaurant Brands International has implemented specific measures to ensure the health and safety of customers and employees.

    CEO José Cil said Tuesday in a letter that most restaurants have an acrylic shield at the counter and contactless service. In addition, dining room tables have signage to show which tables are open and which ones are reserved. Hand sanitizer will be available for customers, and tables and chairs will be cleaned after each use. The stores have turned off the self-serve soda fountain in favor of offering drinks, condiments, and extra trays from behind the counter.

    Cil said RBI is "now moving into the next phase of reopening dining rooms according to guidance from local authorities and will be welcoming back millions of guests to dine-in at our convenient locations."

    Employees are mandated to wear masks and gloves, he added, and RBI is evaluating the use of reusable masks and making that a part of the standard uniform.

    “As we read all the stories about our communities re-opening, all of the focus is understandably on ways to continue to keep us apart,” Cil said in a statement. “But one of the most normal things in our lives is coming together. And that often includes sitting down with your family or friends and enjoying a meal together at a restaurant. We are working very hard to continue to build your confidence in the measures we are taking to keep you safe in our restaurants—so you can more quickly return to a sense of comfort and normalcy in bringing your family inside to sit down for a meal.”

    For those who prefer to use off-premises channels, RBI, which also oversees Popeyes and Tim Hortons, ramped up its digital capabilities. For example, hundreds of restaurants were added onto delivery apps, mobile order and curbside pickup options were expanded, and the drive-thru experience was improved.

    More than 95 percent of Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons restaurants in the U.S. remain open. Each of the brands saw low double-digit growth in off-premises sales through April. By mid-April, digital sales represented about 9 percent of total sales at Burger King, 15 percent of total sales at Popeyes, and more than 30 percent of total sales at Tim Hortons.

    Same-store sales at Popeyes grew 30 percent in Q1, while U.S. Burger King locations saw a 6.5 percent dip and Tim Hortons dropped 10.3 percent.

    In April, RBI increased the hourly wages of employees at company-run stores by $3 to show appreciation.

    “Our team members worldwide are participating in thorough, rigorous training to ensure that all of our health and safety protocols are well-known and implemented,” Cil said. “But equally important, we are reminding all our team members that they play an important role in creating a dining atmosphere that gives you a safe, comfortable and welcoming space to gather with friends and families to enjoy time together over a meal.”

    "Our 30 most senior restaurant leaders from around the world have participated in daily morning calls for the last two months and we have all benefited from the diversity of voices and experiences available to help us quickly navigate so many difficult issues," he added. "Our early decision to take the temperatures of all our team members at the start of each shift in North America is just one good example of something we learned from our colleagues in Asia where they are a couple months ahead of us and have learned how to safely reopen dining rooms while giving comfort to our guests."