Covid-19: Long queues for fast food as Auckland moves to Alert Level 3
Auckland woke up to Alert Level 3 restrictions on the promise of hash browns, takeout coffee and buckets of chicken, as fast food outlets in the city braced to respond to a hungry crowd .
Queues for fast food started when some take-out started serving at midnight and then started to form again when many more opened later on Wednesday morning.
A KFC employee in Manukau described “six or seven” cars already lined up at 7:30 am, with a customer who had been there since 8:00 pm the night before – sleeping in his car.
“We expect to be very, very busy,” beamed the worker, who said they would open “when they’re ready.”
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At 7 a.m., an employee of a McDonald’s in West Auckland described “a constant flow” of moving cars, while a Thing visual reporter at McDonald’s in Greenlane reported much of the same.
By late morning, staff at a McDonald’s in Māngere, south Auckland, had set up traffic management to manage the expected crowd, but queues remained minimal.
However, as lunchtime approached, McDonald’s outlets in the western suburbs of Auckland saw an increase in traffic, with cars from McDonald’s in Penrose and Henderson causing delays in the area.
Meanwhile, those who had survived on homemade caffeinated drinks greeted the opening of cafes with open arms, lining up outside their local hot spots for a barista-brewed coffee.
Richard Bagnall, co-owner of the Ponsonby Longroom bar and adjoining Longshot café, said his establishment had “probably brewed a few hundred coffees” by 8:30 am.
Bagnall said he considers himself lucky to own a cafe during these times, from which he would take care of cabinet food and take-out coffee, but the reality for hoteliers is “still grim”.
Even with the sale of take-out drinks and ready meals, the business is still only operating “seven percent of its normal income,” he said.
The slow pace of fast food outlets this morning contrasted with the frenetic scenes that were seen last night at KFC and McDonald’s as doors officially opened after four long weeks of closure and cars crowded around the corner. from the city.
About 40 cars lined up outside a drive-thru West Auckland McDonald’s at 12:30 a.m. when it opened. At 1 a.m. there was a line of cars on the road and around the corner.
Erick Sia, the owner of Homecooked Filipino Cuisine, said he had to turn down early orders to balance his incoming orders from Ubereats, Menulog and walk-in.
Although he saw 60% fewer customers than he would at level 1, Sia said his phone kept ringing, which is “unusual”.
“On my previous Level 3 blocks, 90% of my orders are from Ubereats,” he said.
It was good for the restaurant as Uber took a cut, he said.
“Every time the phone rings, every time the Uber rings, every time I see an email, a text from my office, every time I hear the printer print, I have to hope. “
1000 percent increase in orders
Delivereasy meanwhile reported a 1,000 to 1,100% increase in orders from the Wednesday before the lockdown began.
Director Nick Foster said things had been “hot” and throughout the day there would be more than 300 active drivers in the area.
“An important aspect of Level 3 for us is the ability of drivers to process more orders per hour with less traffic on the road and restaurants focused on take out or delivery orders. “
Aucklanders seemed to have missed the burgers above all else, with four of the top five outlets being McDonald’s, Burger Burger, Tiger Burger and ReBurger.
Little Bird Eatery completed the top five, placing fourth.
ThingVisual reporters Ricky Wilson and David White had stepped out after dark, meeting these Aucklandians salivating for their first bite of burger and desperate to feast on fish and chips.
Tipene’s take-out in Morningside also opened at midnight for about two hours.
The butter chicken factory on Karangahape Rd also opened at midnight and, after 59 orders, had to close its Uber Eats store because it ran out of ingredients.
This isn’t the first time takeout establishments have experienced the fast food rush, with the rest of the country offering a dry run when it opens in early September.
Back then, the demand for fast food was huge, with some queuing for hours as traffic piled up behind them. At one point, the Christchurch City Council Transport Operations Center sent traffic management “to improve the situation” to one of the city’s McDonald’s restaurants.
And, with the Auckland drought that lasted for another three weeks, the response from its residents must have been voracious.
Some drive-through outlets must have been so busy that an Auckland counselor suggested that health officials set up vaccination centers in some of the restaurants.
While many restaurants were prepared for a change in alert level, some, like KFC and McDonald’s, said they would not offer full menus due to the short notice of opening.
But for the tech-savvy, there might be a way around the lines with the team behind the Time in line website setting up a mechanism to time queues at local McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King outlets.