Chain Restaurants Reopening For Dine-In After Coronavirus Pandemic

Arizona, Indiana, Oklahoma and Georgia all count themselves among the nearly 20 states reopening restaurants for dine-in after weeks of stay-at-home orders and social distancing. Each allows for dine-in to presume under specific health precautions. 

While some popular chains like Chick-fil-A have held off on reopening dining rooms, other chains have already or will soon do so. Here are 20 popular chain restaurants expanding delivery and carryout to modified dine-in services.

Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel has reopened restaurants in accordance with state and local guidelines even as curbside, pickup and delivery options continue. Inside the reopened dining rooms, certain tables will be closed for seating in order to support social distancing. Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting efforts are underway in each store and thermometers have been distributed to managers so they may perform daily wellness checks on employees. In addition, employees will be wearing masks. You also won't find the famous Cracker Barrel peg games back on the tables just yet, but you can recreate it at home.


Select IHOP locations have reopened for dine-in while following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and federal, state and local mandates. Some changes include team members wearing face coverings, reduced seating, single-use containers for syrups and other condiments and new one-time-use paper menus. Hand sanitizer is available to all customers and heightened cleaning and disinfecting protocols are in effect. 


As Chili's locations reopen in states that allow it, team members are required to wear face masks at all times and wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds every 30 minutes. All surfaces are to be disinfected every 30 minutes using effective cleaning products for coronavirus.


Applebee's dining rooms have gradually begun reopening in states across the country. To limit the spread of the virus, locations have reduced seating, limited menu options, replaced reusable menus with single-use ones and instituted a contact-free payment system. Team members are required to wear face coverings. 

Outback Steakhouse

To limit wait times at reopened Outback Steakhouse locations, guests are encouraged to sign up for a digital waitlist prior to arrival. Team members at reopened restaurants are subject to daily wellness checks and required to wear face coverings. Limits are set for seating capacity and guest party sizes. Menus and condiments are all single-use.

Olive Garden

Darden Restaurants reopened several chains over Mother's Day weekend, including Olive Garden. The reopened dining rooms feature reconfigured seating layouts to accommodate social distancing and hand sanitizers in every lobby. Team members undergo daily temperature checks and are required to wear face masks. Customers are also encouraged to wear face masks whenever away from their assigned table.

Red Lobster

Another Darden entity, seafood restaurant Red Lobster has reopened select locations for dine-in. Like Olive Garden employees, Red Lobster staff are required to wear face masks and undergo daily wellness checks. The restaurants provide single-use menus and are presently installing hand sanitizer dispensers at each location.  

LongHorn Steakhouse

Also operated by Darden Restaurants, casual steakhouse chain LongHorn Steakhouse has similar precautions to Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Every lobby has hand sanitizer and every staff member wears a mask. Guests are urged to not congregate near the bar or in the lobby and maintain 6 feet of distance from other diners as they wait for seats in the reconfigured dining area. 

The Cheesecake Factory

The Cheesecake Factory began reopening dining rooms on May 14 with new safety precautions. Along with being provided masks and gloves, all staff and managers are subject to before-shift wellness checks. Designated employees are solely responsible for sanitizing high-contact areas each meal period. In-house seating has been reconfigured to accommodate for social distancing. The tables are also not pre-set and each restaurant is providing a QR code for guests to access a digital menu if they prefer not to use one of the restaurant's.

Golden Corral

Known for its buffet-style dining, Golden Corral has begun reopening restaurant dining rooms under two temporary service models: cafeteria-style (food is served by staff on buffet lines) and family-style (servers bring buffet favorites to individual tables). Along with those procedural changes, other social distancing measures like floor markers, table spacing and drink delivery have been introduced.

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

P.F. Chang's locations in a dozen states have reopened for dine-in. Team members are required to undergo daily wellness checks, wear masks and wash their hands at every touchpoint. The number of people per table is limited in accordance with local guidelines and customers are encouraged to place a reservation prior to arrival.

Carrabba's Italian Grill

Some Carrabba's dining rooms have resumed operation at limited capacity and hours in compliance with state and local regulations. The Italian spot's precautions include the usual: required masks and wellness checks for team members, single-use or digital menus, disposable condiments, limited guests and table spacing.

Waffle House

Notorious for withstanding major devastation, Waffle House began closing select locations in March and reopening dining rooms in April. At open locations, according to the Waffle House Social Distancing Checklist, all associates wear face masks and menus must be either disposable, digital or sanitizable. Some chairs and booths are to be designated closed to allow for social distancing. 

Texas Roadhouse

For reopened locations, Texas Roadhouse requires gloves, masks and temperature checks for all employees. For their part, customers are encouraged to practice social distancing and frequently wash their hands. People with any sickness symptoms or who are in contact with a person who has coronavirus or any other respiratory illness are encouraged to not visit any Texas Roadhouse location.

Miller’s Alehouse

Select Miller's Alehouse locations have reopened for dine-in. New precautions include limited occupancy, table spacing, no indoor waits, specific routes to restrooms and exits, disposable menus, marked floors and non-medical-grade masks for team members.


Hooters locations are reopening as state and local governments allow. Team members are required to wear gloves and masks at all times. They also must wash their hands at least once every 30 minutes and have their temperature checked at the start of each shift. All guests are required to use hand sanitizer upon entrance and are encouraged to wear a face covering.


Dining rooms at select O'Charley's locations have reopened in accordance with state and local regulations. After having already stepped up their cleaning and sanitation protocols in March, O'Charley's has since expanded cleaning precautions and introduced new measures to ensure customer and employee safety.

Burger King

Restaurant Brands International CEO Jose Cil wrote in an open letter May 12 that the company's 15,000 restaurants across North America, including Burger King, will reopen under new guidelines. Once reopened, RBI establishments like Burger King will be required to sanitize chairs and tables after each use, shut off self-service soda machines and provide all necessary beverages, condiments and trays from behind the shielded front counter.


Popeyes locations — also under the RBI umbrella — are required to follow the guidelines as listed under Burger King: employee face masks, closed self-service machines and increased cleaning and sanitizing measures.


McDonald's released a 59-page document to franchisees outlining the corporation's plans for reopening restaurants. According to the Chicago Tribune, the chain has fewer than 100 restaurants open for dine-in in states with lifted restrictions. Universal guidelines for all 14,000 McDonald's when they reopen include closing seating to accommodate social distancing, more frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces, face mask requirements for crew members, keeping play places closed and modifying self-serving beverage procedures to limit contact. French fries and quality time with family and friends are among the things diners miss most about restaurants during coronavirus quarantine.

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