Cities Require Vaccines For Dining; IHOP Gets Boozy

Restaurant Vaccine Pass

On Thursday (Aug. 12), San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced that bar and restaurant staff and patrons alike will be required to show proof of full vaccination for indoor dining beginning Aug. 20, and the same will go for gyms and indoor event venues.

“We know that for our city to bounce back from the pandemic and thrive, we need to use the best method we have to fight COVID-19 and that’s vaccines,” said Mayor Breed. “Many San Francisco businesses are already leading the way by requiring proof of vaccination for their customers because they care about the health of their employees, their customers and this city … vaccines are our way out of the pandemic, and our way back to a life where we can be together safely.”

Also on Thursday, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced a similar ordinance, which will go into effect on Aug. 16. Plus, Puerto Rico’s governor announced on Wednesday (Aug. 11) that proof of vaccine or a negative test result will be required for restaurant dining starting Aug. 23.

Some restaurants are speaking out against these mandates. A handful of New York City restaurants are advertising that they will continue to serve unvaccinated customers. Additionally, at the start of August, the National Restaurant Association expressed concern about the NYC vaccine verification requirement.

“Checking vaccination status isn’t like ID-ing a customer before serving them a drink — staff receive training on how to do that,” Larry Lynch, the association’s senior vice president of science and industry, said in a statement. “Last year, when mask mandates across the country were put in place, restaurant workers suffered terrifying backlash when enforcing those rules … we hope that the city will take this into consideration and will work with us to ensure that there is clear guidance and support for our workforce.”

Texas to Revoke Liquor Licenses For Requiring Proof Of Vaccine

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) is warning businesses that if they require customers to show proof of vaccine, the commission may revoke their liquor licenses. Two restaurants in Austin received such a warning on Wednesday (Aug. 11). The warnings come as part of Senate Bill 968, a statute that prohibits businesses in the state from requiring proof of vaccinations, which Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law in June.

“While the agency has not taken formal action against any businesses to date, we have requested to meet with representatives of businesses where potential noncompliance could be taking place,” read a TABC email, per a Texas Tribune report. “TABC is committed to working with business owners to ensure they have the information necessary to comply with all state statutes, including the provisions put in place by SB 968.”

Now At IHOP, Beer With Breakfast

Soon, IHOP may not be the wholesome spot it has always been, attracting families with young children and teens who just got their drivers’ licenses. The chain is launching a “Bubbles, Wine & Brews” menu, starting at three locations in San Diego and New Mexico with plans to soon expand to New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, Ohio and other areas. As the name implies, the menu — which is only available for on-premise diners — features mimosas, wines and beers.

In a statement, the restaurant chain’s President Jay Johns noted the results of a “Drinks and Dining Survey,” which found that two-thirds of the chain’s recent customers want to have the option to drink alcoholic beverages with their IHOP meal, including 58 percent of customers ages 21-34. Johns added, “As we continue to focus and expand on our daytime and evening menu options, adult beverages offer a terrific innovation and evolution to enjoy IHOP for every occasion.”

With that goal in mind, the company announced in May its fast-casual restaurant brand Flip’d, which focuses more on offering foods for pickup and delivery. The first Flip’d location will open in Lawrence, Kansas later in the third quarter, with the second location in New York City soon to follow, Johns told analysts on a call last week.

QDOBA Hits Four New Markets With 10 New Restaurants

As the fast-casual space grows, Chipotle competitor Qdoba Mexican Eats, which operates more than 700 locations across 47 states, announced on Friday (Aug. 13) that it is expanding to four new markets with three upcoming locations in each of Maryland, Nebraska and Indiana, plus one in Texas.

Reports show that the fast-casual market is growing by high single digits each year, with the category continuing to benefit from the digital ordering boom occasioned by the pandemic. The brand’s VP of Franchise Development Shawn Caric noted the growth of the recent past in his statement, saying, “These agreements represent the momentum we have created during our current growth phase, and we thank these franchisees for their commitment to developing Qdoba restaurants in these great markets.”