How fast food restaurants will change

Things You’ll Never See in Fast Food Restaurants Ever Again

It’s possible that, once the shelter-in-place order lifts, you won’t be able to find these items in popular chains.

By Cheyenne Buckingham May 1, 2020


The way we go out to eat will have to change for many months once the mandated quarantine lifts in an effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. In fact, there are many things you might notice restaurants, both sit-down and fast-casual alike, will remove once they reopen.

While there is no evidence suggesting that these items will no longer be in fast food restaurants’ dining spaces, we’re predicting that they will be temporarily removed based on the little we do know about how the virus spreads between person to person.

Now, here are three things we speculate you won’t be seeing in fast food restaurants anytime soon. 1

No more new self-service kiosks

fast ordering

Prior to the pandemic, self-service kiosks were starting to pop up in a lot of popular fast food restaurant chains, however, that may be subject to change in the coming months. We’re certainly not suggesting that you won’t see self-service kiosks anymore, but it’s likely that—until we learn more about the coronavirus—you won’t see any new self-service kiosks pop up at your favorite fast food restaurants.

While it’s not yet clear if the coronavirus is transmissible through objects, evidence would suggest that you could contract it through something like a self-service kiosk. For example, if someone who has the virus (or is a carrier of it) expells infectious respiratory droplets either by coughing or sneezing onto the touch screen monitor, that could potentially expose the next person in line to the virus.

Cedrina Calder, MD and Preventive Medicine Doctor, had told Eat This, Not That! before that, “it is possible that you could get COVID-19 by touching surfaces or objects where the droplets have landed and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.” 2

No more sauce dispensers


Ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise dispensers may become a distant memory in future months. Why? Think about how many people touch those handles in a single day? Restaurants will already be responsible for cleaning and disinfecting tabletops, booths, and other common touchpoints in the facility, so it’s unlikely they’ll have the bandwidth to also regularly clean the dispensers.

No more napkin dispensers

napkin dispenser

Napkin dispensers are quite common in diners and fast food restaurants, however, until we get a vaccine, it’s very plausible that we won’t see them on dining tables for a while. Many napkin dispensers are made of metal or plastic, and research has found that the virus can exist on both stainless steel and plastic surfaces for up to three days, though it isn’t yet clear that if it remains infectious for that long.

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