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Chipotle looking at free delivery for April as coronavirus outbreak continues: CEO

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

Major restaurant chains are doing all they can to get food delivered directly to households likely under quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From offering hourly workers bonuses so they continue to come in and make food to upping the pace of hiring, to say this is a critical time in the industry is no understatement. For its part, burrito king Chipotle has given its workers a 10% hourly raise as a show of support. As for consumers, Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol tells Yahoo Finance that free delivery — which began in March — may be extended.

“We have free delivery going really for the whole month of March and then we will obviously assess whether we continue that into April,” explained Niccol on The First Trade. Niccol says Chipotle’s digital business — a business that topped $1 billion in sales last year —has continued to grow amidst the coronavirus.

Niccol continued, “Our employees have been something really special because they continue to show up and provide our food with integrity to their communities and our priority has been to support them in every way possible so we can continue to operate our restaurants for carryout and delivery.”

A sign indicating that only carry-out or delivery options are available hangs in the window of a closed Chipotle restaurant in Portland, Ore., Monday, March 16, 2020. Gov. Kate Brown announced a four-week ban on eat-in dining at bars and restaurants throughout the state on Monday to slow the spread of the new coronavirus in Oregon. Restaurants can still offer take-out and delivery. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

Others in the industry have stepped up, too.  

Grubhub founder and CEO Matt Maloney told Yahoo Finance this week his company has waived $100 million in commissions across the country. In turn, more restaurants have signed onto the delivery platform as a means to drive badly needed sales.

“We are seeing five times to 10 times the leads or signups. Our signups are off the charts. It’s multiples of our previous highest day, week and month. We are blowing by all the records. There are a lot of restaurants coming online,” Maloney said.

Ramp up in hiring

Papa John’s detailed a plan this week to hire an astounding 20,000 employees to help service an influx of orders.

“The industry is changing dramatically right now, where a lot of my peers that run dine-in restaurants are being asked to close their dining rooms and I feel really bad for them from a business standpoint. But from a community standpoint I feel it’s our responsibility that has more of a delivery model to pick up the slack and make sure the communities we live and work in have the food they need to get through this situation,” Papa John’s CEO Rob Lynch told Yahoo Finance.

Rival Domino’s Pizza said it plans to hire 10,000 full-time and part-time employees.

A number of companies are hiring during the coronavirus outbreak.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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