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7 Popular Restaurants That Will Never Look the Same Again

Say goodbye to Cracker Barrel's peg game.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, so many things we once took for granted are changing. "Social distancing" is a household phrase, and seemingly harmless things like handshakes are a thing of the past. But how will the pandemic affect your favorite chain restaurants once they start reopening?

While many details about specific restaurants remain to be seen, current guidelines include some clues about what reopening will be like. Here are some things that might be different at your favorite popular chain restaurants. And for more ways that things will be different, Expect This Change to the Produce Aisle at Your Grocery Store.

Cracker Barrel

Cracker barrel storefront

Can you imagine eating at Cracker Barrel without stopping by the oversized checkerboards and rocking chairs, and without playing the little peg game at your table? Sadly, that thought is about to become a reality. Cracker Barrel's official coronavirus response states that "the peg games will not be back on our tables just yet," although you can still play the peg game through the chain's game app. (Yes, we agree: It's not the same.)

And for more ways the chain is changing, don't miss our report, Cracker Barrel to Offer These Two Items for the First Time During Reopening.


IHOP storefront

Think about the high-touch items at your favorite restaurant chain, and your mind will go to the condiments like salt and pepper. But seasonings aren't the only thing diners have to worry about. The syrup bottles sitting at your table are also high-touch items; they'll now be provided in single-use containers, per IHOP's coronavirus response statement.

And for more on the pancake chain, here are The Best and Worst Menu Items at IHOP.

Ruby Tuesday

ruby tuesday

Say goodbye to the beloved Garden Bar. It's no secret that buffets aren't exactly the most sanitary way to eat. And for more restaurant news, here's why Ruby Tuesday is one of the 7 Popular Restaurants That May Not Survive the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Cici's Pizza

Cicis pizza

Per the Cici's Pizza coronavirus response statement, the chain will no longer be a self-serve buffet. Instead, servers will hand you your food—but you can still get back in line as many times as you want.

Bob Evans

Bob evans
Eric Glenn / Shutterstock

Gone are the days of sitting down to a pre-set restaurant table, even at casual dining establishments like Bob Evans. Expect your server to bring you silverware, cups, and condiments, and for your server to be wearing a face mask.

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While many changes about what will look different have to do with safety measures, some chains will also look different because of changing menus. That's the case at Sweetgreen, which recently added plates to its menu after years of only serving salads and warm bowls.

Your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!

Golden Corral

golden corral restaurant

Any chains that are focused exclusively on buffet service will see plenty of changes during the reopening period. Golden Corral is sanitizing high-touch items and serving utensils, but the reopening process could include further measures, like having employees serve you the buffet food.

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.
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