- Costco is adding seating back to food courts as restrictions are lifted.
- The food courts pared down offerings during the pandemic.
- Costco execs say the food court is key to drawing customers in.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Costco has plans to reopen seating in food courts soon, CNN reported.
In March of 2020, Costco closed down seating areas at food courts and cut back menus. Early in the pandemic, members could only buy hot dogs and pizzas to-go. Now, things are finally getting back to normal. Ice cream, smoothies, and churros are back on the menu, and the wholesale chain is adding back tables and chairs to stores with outdoor areas. Indoor seating is also returning as states lift COVID restrictions.
Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti is planning for the food court to be back in business.
“God willing. But it’s going to take some time,” he told CNN.
Read more: Dollar General became a larger safe haven for cost-conscious shoppers during the pandemic. Experts now warn a lacking e-commerce presence may be its undoing in topping big-box rivals, even as it grows store offerings.
Costco’s food court is key to the chain’s strategy of making the in-store experience appealing over e-commerce to members.
“It’s still important to get people physically in the store. I don’t think brick and mortar is going away,” CEO Craig Jelinek told CNBC in December.
The famously inexpensive snacks are part of what draws people in, he says. The $1.50 hot dog and soda combo is particularly iconic, and the price hasn’t changed since the deal launched in 1985. Costco founder Jim Senegal once told Jelinek, “If you raise the [price of the] effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out.”
The commitment to keeping the price low has paid off. In the 2019 fiscal year, Costco sold 151 million hot-dog combos for a total of about $226.5 million.
“It’s the mindset that when you think of Costco, you think of the $1.50 hot dog,” Jelinek said. “We have no plans to take that hot dog above a buck fifty,” he told shareholders. “End of story.”
Costco did not respond to a request for comment.
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