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5 Things You'll Never See at Mall Food Courts Again

Stopping for a bite to eat while shopping is always something to look forward to, but it will be a different experience from now on.

After spending a few hours walking from store to store, there is nothing quite like finding your way to the mall food court. The mouth-watering scent of Auntie Anne's pretzels is wafting through the air and you're not sure which cluster of brightly colored plastic chairs you want to settle down in with all your bags. Sadly, there are some things that once malls reopen and you're able to head back to those beloved food courts that will be non-existent post-pandemic life.

It's pretty obvious that there are going to be safety measures put into place everywhere you dine moving forward to best protect customers. Here's a breakdown of all the things you'll ever see at a mall food court again.


Tables and seats close together.

food court

Mall food courts are known for having many tables arranged close together. How many times have you scooted your seat back and might've accidentally bumped into the person eating behind you? Well, that is something that won't happen again, as most dining locations will keep implementing the six-feet apart social distancing practices.


Free samples.

Man holding cheese board of free samples at grocery store

There's nothing quite like taking a stroll through the food court, munching on some free samples while you decide where to order your meal from. But that will be a memory of the past, as free samples are a way for many germs to easily spread. If you want to stay informed with everything COVID-19 related, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest coronavirus foods news delivered straight to your inbox.


Trays for your food.

Eating fast food

Most food court meals are served up to customers on a plastic tray. There's a good chance you won't dine on these anymore, as that is just another breeding ground for germs. Instead, you'll most likely be served up food, takeout style with your food wrapped up in a bag that is handed to you to eat from.


Self-service condiments and napkins.


Going up to grab some ketchup and napkins as you see fit is something else that will get the ax from mall food courts. Think about it—tons of people touch the handles and dispensers, so they would have to constantly be cleaned, after every use if we're being honest here. That is simply unrealistic, as employees will be focused on cooking up food and distributing it to shoppers in a safe manner.


Long lines packed with people.

chipotle mall

Every mall food court features shoppers holding bags of their new clothes they just purchased, standing very close together, eyeing the menus of the fast-food restaurants they can choose from. Moving forward, you'll most likely see lines that are spread out, as customers will be standing six feet apart from each other. There's a good chance there will be markers on the floor of where to stand so no area ends up getting too crowded.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Jennifer Maldonado
Jennifer Maldonado is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and health content. Read more about Jennifer
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