Creating Safe Takeout Practices – How Wayback Burgers is Leading the Way for the New Normal

Wayback Burgers, founded in 1991, is one of the nation’s most popular and fastest-growing fast-casual chains. With more than over 500 locations across 38 countries, including 166 operating in 31 states in the U.S., the company, based in Cheshire, CT., was one of the first chains to implement curbside pickup during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wayback has transformed its operations to comply with best practices to keep its employees and customers safe. Patrick Conlin, Wayback’s President, detailed how the company was able to shift and keep business open.

What are consumers most concerned about regarding takeout: that an employee has coughed near the food, for example, or being near other people when picking it up?

The guests picking up food are looking for proper sanitizing procedures by the employees, hand washing, glove usage, sanitizing prep stations, sanitizing the door handles. For most of our online pickup orders we offer curbside pickup so the guests don’t have to come into the restaurant. When they are in the restaurant, guests are cognizant of the 6 foot rule and we have taped off the floors in 6 foot boxes.

What changes have you implemented a) back of house; b) front of house during the current crisis?

Back of house has remained basically the same with an increased amount of times of handwashing and sanitizing prep tables. Front of house was, at the beginning, packaging all food to go instead of using our metal plates for dine in guests. Having someone on our team constantly wipe down & sanitize the front door handles for guests coming in and going out, sanitizers by the POS station, a table in front of the POS counter to keep the guest away from the counter. The counter where food is wrapped is also blocked with a table so guests cannot lean over or hover over that area.

What changes have you made to delivery? How do you ensure customers keep a safe distance from each other when picking up food?

Delivery has increased, so we are double taping our bags both for delivery and takeout so the bags are completely sealed. For in-store, we’ve taped off six-foot boxes on the floor.

How are you asking customers to pay, to keep interactions low?

We are lucky that we have been using OLO for online ordering for almost 10 years so that platform is paid for online and our app is also paid for via credit or debit cards so the majority of our transactions during the crisis is online payment type. We do still have some guests pay with cash but that number as a percentage of sales has decreased dramatically.

Are you using anything new, such as utensils sealed in plastic?

Very early on we moved to sealed cutlery kits, we removed condiment stations which were on the beverage counter. In addition, salt and pepper packages, napkins, ketchup packages, lids, straws, and any other items that they public could touch have been moved behind the counter.

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