Tim Hortons lays out its path back to normal, hoping to reopen dining areas across Canada by next month

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Financial Post | Jake Edmiston | May 12, 2020

Obama drinkning Tim Hortons - Tim Hortons lays out its path back to normal, hoping to reopen dining areas across Canada by next monthIconic coffee chain will widen the space between tables and sanitize tables and chairs after each use

Tim Hortons executives are meeting with franchisees this week to map out a return to normal, starting with reopening dining rooms as soon as provincial governments say it’s okay for customers to sit down in restaurants again.

The new plan revolves around tables: Tim Hortons will widen the space between tables; it will sanitize them, as well as chairs, after each use; and it will limit the number of customers allowed at any given table to no more than four.

These are incremental and expected moves, just the first of many little bricks needed to rebuild a blissfully unremarkable fast food dining experience.

“Every business out there is looking for a path back to normal,” said Duncan Fulton, chief corporate officer at Tim Hortons’ parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc.

For Tim Hortons, that path to normal involves convincing commuters it is all right to stop for coffee as they start to re-establish morning routines.

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“When you see a team member sanitize the table and the chairs, that’ll give you a great deal of confidence that it’s safe to sit down there,” said Fulton, who held video calls with franchisees on Monday to fill them in on the new procedures.

“We are ready to go with our procedures when government authorities believe it’s safe to open up again.”

“We have fully embraced the notion that parts of our restaurants need to change — certainly, for the foreseeable future and possibly forever,” Cil said.

Last week, New Brunswick relaxed its restrictions and allowed restaurants and other non-essential businesses to reopen. British Columbia’s multi-phase “restart plan” has cleared a path for restaurants to open as soon as the middle of May.

Fulton said Tim Hortons is expecting to be able to reopen in every province by next month. But with most provincial reopening plans tied to trends in new COVID-19 cases, it’s tough to be sure.

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“No one knows yet. It seems to be trending towards some point in June,” he said.

Tim Hortons has only offered takeout, delivery and drive-thru since closing its dining rooms across Canada on March 17. In the last quarter, Tim Hortons’ daily sales growth dropped more than 40 per cent compared to the previous year, according to its earnings report earlier this month.

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