Oxford eateries taking coronavirus precautions: who’s open and who’s drive-thru only?

Published 2:07 pm Monday, March 16, 2020

With the threat of coronavirus outbreak and the CDC recommending against the gatherings of 50 or more people, many local eateries are taking their own additional measures.

Some are closing down altogether, some are closing or limiting dining room space and others are going to takeout or drive-thru only. Others have yet to make comments, or have not made plans to change the way they operate.

Among the first to make major changes was the Chick-fil-A on West Jackson Avenue.

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“We’re just trying to mitigate risk as best we can, mitigating risk for you and for our team members,” Lance Reed, of Chick-fil-A, said in a Facebook video. “We want to serve you well during this time and want to keep our restaurant open during this process. We felt like, in order to do that, the best step is to shut down the dining room temporarily.”

Chick-fil-A plans on re-evaluating their decision at the end of the month, with the hope to reopen the dining room in April and get back to business as usual. For now, they will but just a drive-thru, plus patrons can still order through the mobile app for curbside delivery.

However, Chick-fil-A’s plan of shutting down the dining room – something Cookout will also be doing – isn’t exactly the norm. Most restaurants around town will not be closing dining rooms, but many will be offering additional offerings to avoid social contact and pledging to maintain extensive levels of cleanliness.

“We began discussing and preparing for the stark realities of what a pandemic threat might mean several weeks ago,” said John Currence, owner of the City Grocery Restaurant Group, in a statement on Saturday. “We were doing our best to make sure our establishments were as sanitary and safe as they could possibly be. In the past 48 hours, we have stepped up those original protocols to a level more comprehensive than we have ever dreamed necessary.”

As of now, City Grocery and its sister restaurants – Big Bad Breakfast, Bouré and Snackbar – will remain open. However, the group is one of many restaurants around the area to begin offering additional means of consumption. They are now offering a curbside service to patrons, where customers can call ahead and place orders to be brought to their cars outside the restaurant and plan to begin offering delivery soon.

Ajax Diner on the Square took a different approach, announcing Monday the decision to close temporarily until the threat of COVID-19 has passed. A Venmo account for donations to employees is being established, and will be announced on the Ajax Facebook page.

Other are taking even more interesting measures. Dodo Pizza of Oxford is offering non-contact delivery and carryout on pre-paid orders. For non-contact delivery, drivers will leave orders on customers’ doorsteps, and give the customer a call when they are back in their car. For non-contact takeout, a crew member will come place the order in the customer’s trunk. Fetcht delivery offers a similar service. For a full list of changes, see below. Many other restaurants not listed may also offer delivery through Fetcht, Doordash or other services.

Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill spoke with local restaurant leaders on Monday to discuss the City’s #ServingOxfordSafely initiative during the COVID-19 outbreak. She also sent out a letter outlining the guidelines restaurants must follow to have the #ServingOxfordSafely designation.

The city has not recommended the closing of bars and restaurants in Oxford, but Tannehill noted things will change “drastically and quickly” if a confirmed presumptive case is found in Lafayette County.

“It’s a big commitment and restaurants are flooding us saying, ‘We’re in, we’re in, we’re in,'” Tannehill said. “I’ve only had positive responses from restaurants who want to participate.”

A full list of restaurants who have become a designated #ServingOxfordSafely establishment will be sent out by the City of Oxford.

Some of the guidelines include:

  • Insisting employees do not come to work if they are feeling ill
  • Taking temperatures of employees at beginning of shifts and questionnaires about contact with people who may be sick
  • Increased routine hand washing
  • All servers wear gloves
  • Tables and chairs wiped down each time a table turns
  • Sanitizer solution buckets and towels on each kitchen station that are changed hourly
  • Attendant to open the door for customers at entry and exit or doors propped open to avoid touching of door handles
  • No menus to handle – chalkboards, signs or servers with excellent memory
  • Half-table capacity pledge (to create distancing, restaurants would agree to seat every other table)
  • Eliminate unwrapped straws
  • Take-out protocols
  • Zero self-service stations at fast food restaurants

Restaurants announcing changes to service:

6 N Tubbs Pizza: open regular hours, offering standard takeout, plus delivery and curb-side takeout

Abner’s: open regular hours and offering delivery

Ajax: closed indefinitely

Big Bad Breakfast: open regular hours and offering curbside takeout

Bouré: open regular hours and offering curbside takeout

Chick-fil-A: drive thru and mobile curbside only – dining room closed

Chicken Salad Chick: open regular hours and offering curbside takeout

Chipotle: open regular hours and offering free delivery through March

City Grocery: open regular hours and offering curbside takeout

Cookout: drive thru carryout only  – dining room closed

Cups of Oxford: dine-in and carryout

Dodo Pizza: offering non-contact delivery and carryout

Fergndan’s Wood Fired Pizza: open regular hours and offering curbside takeout

GRIT: open regular hours and offering free delivery throughout March

Heartbreak Coffee: closed through March

Jinsei Sushi: normal dinner hours and offering curbside takeout

Julep Steakhouse: open regular hours and offering curbside takeout

Mugshots Grill & Bar: open regular hours and offering curbside takeout

Oxford Canteen: open regular hours and offering takeout and delivery

Saint Leo: open regular hours with increased safety measures, delivery with Fetcht, working on curbside delivery in alleyway

Snackbar: open regular hours and offering curbside takeout

SoLa: closing Tuesday Mar. 17 for sanitation and staff training, limiting capacity to 25 patrons in dining room and 10 at the bar (including staff)

Southern Coop Wings: open regular hours and offering curbside takeout

Southern Craft Stove & Tap: open regular hours and offering curbside takeout

Tallahatchie Gourmet: open regular hours and offering curbside takeout

Tarasque Cucina: closing dining room – offering curbside takeout and delivery

Uptown Coffee: all orders to-go and adding a ‘drive-thru’ in their loading zone