The pandemic saw many businesses shift the way they interact with customers, and Costco was no different. In an attempt to better protect its shoppers, Costco shut down its popular food courts and its free samplesin March of 2020. Now, fans of the company’s simple offerings are eagerly looking forward to the day when Costco’s tasty food samples return.
The massive retailer uses the food court’s low-priced menu items, along with free samples, to incentivize more shoppers to become Costco members, and the perk was sorely missed throughout 2020 and early 2021.
Costco samples will return throughout June 2021, depending on location. The company announced it is “beginning a phased return to full sampling” that will start with roughly 170 locations bringing back food options in the first week of June. Most other Costco locations will see samples return by the end of that month, according to Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti. The company also recently announced that fully vaccinated members can shop without face masks.
The retailer isn’t completely nixing COVID-19 safety measures, however. The company has added “increased safety protocols” to ensure that customers stay safe. These include preparing food in smaller batches, passing it out to customers one at a time, and using a plexiglass shield, behind which all food will be prepared.
Seating will also see a change. Outdoor seating will continue to be provided at locations that allow it, and indoor seating will maintain as much “physical separation” as space allows. Most locations will provide “half the seating capacity as we had before,” according to Galanti. A maximum of four people will be allowed per table.
Costco is rolling out several new menu items to mark the return of food courts and samples. Customers can look forward to “new and improved churros,” along with the replacement of frozen yogurt with a new type of ice cream.