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Fries a casualty of social distancing at Broadway Dick’s Drive-In

Customers line up at the Broadway Dick's

Nothing unusual about a line at Dick’s (Image: CHS)

A burger and fries

(Image: Dick’s Drive-In)

“All locations are OPEN today, Thursday, May 14th… Fresh hand cut fries🍟 are available at all locations with the exception of Broadway”

It might be one of the cruelest blows of COVID-19-locked down Seattle mass culture — the small semblance of normality that Dick’s Drive-In is open and serving in the middle of these strange days with burgers, shakes, and fries… with the exception of Broadway.

“Our primary product is a burger and fries are a side,” Jasmine Donovan, president of Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants tells CHS. “It was the way that the kitchen is set up and the way the food flows from production to the window where the customer’s ordering — it was fries that cause the biggest bottleneck and the one thing that we could offer potentially an alternative product for.”

The Broadway exception is not some kind of Trump-era retaliation and is probably not a punishment by god. It’s about architecture.

Dick’s Drive-In on Broadway has temporarily halted fry production because of challenges posed by the location’s unique and narrow floor layout in the 1955-era fast food joint, making it hard for employees to run the fry display and other equipment while socially distancing. Fries are still being offered at all other locations of this Seattle-based fast food institution.

For now, the Broadway Dick’s is offering Tim’s Original Potato Chips in place of the hand cut fries. The temporary menu change comes as the longtime establishment works to implement social distancing guidelines into their smaller store locations. Dick’s initially halted fry production at three locations but has since resumed serving fries at all but the Broadway spot.

“We’ve been there through lots of ups and downs and this is the first time I think we’ve ever had to stop selling a product like this on such a large scale or for such a long time, so I think it does surprise people sometimes and that’s generally when we get the most negative reaction,” Donovan said. “You know some people choose to buy chips, others choose to buy a second cheeseburger and some decide not to eat there at all or go to another location that is serving fries right now like our Queen Anne location just down the hill.”

Donovan has found most customers to be understanding of the menu change but there is plenty of sadness to be found on the internet:

In a way the business model of this Seattle fast food chain, which primarily sells takeaway food and only has in-store seating at its Queen Anne location prior to COVID-19 restrictions, is relatively well set up for business under quarantine, but it has still faced the significant challenge of how to safely prepare fries, one of its staple items, at the Broadway location.

“We haven’t figured out a good way to maintain social distancing inside and outside the restaurant for that matter if we bring fries back, so we’re still working on it,” Donovan said. “We hope to be able to come up with a solution, but in the meantime it’s chips.”


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15 thoughts on “Fries a casualty of social distancing at Broadway Dick’s Drive-In

  1. So let’s see if I get this- We can’t serve potatoes fried in oil so instead we serve potatoes fried in oil? Or are they baked? Oh well, grease is grease.

    • People with no symptoms can spread the disease…. until/unless we find that exposure (presence of antibodies) confers long term immunity and have the capacity to actually test people before they go back to work or we develop a vaccine there will be no sure way of telling who is “safe” to be around.

      Until then – wear your mask in public….

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