Costco Is Gradually Bringing Back Food Courts & Free Samples

The iconic food courts will start reopening as COVID-19 cases improve.

When COVID-19 began its rapid spread last spring, we had to give up some of our favorite things in the name of safety. Sadly, that list included Costco's food court seating and iconic free samples. For the past year, the wholesale club's food courts have been serving a scaled-back menu for takeout only—and it's been bleak.

Finally, we're receiving word that there's light at the end of the tunnel: Costco's food court menu is continuing to expand, outdoor seating has re-entered the chat, indoor seating is gradually reopening, and free food samples will once again line the aisles. As the pandemic settles down, we can expect a Costco experience much like the ones that helped make the company so famous.

MORE: Costco Is Finally Testing Curbside Pickup

CNN Business reports that Costco's CFO, Richard Galanti, anticipates a full recovery for the food courts, but warns that "it's going to take some time." That's partially because, while more and more Americans are getting vaccinated each day, some states are still exercising caution with their COVID-19 safety restrictions. One by one, the food courts will begin seating guests indoors again.

While you wait for your local store to fully resume food court operations, you can enjoy some classic Costco foods that have been off the menu since COVID struck. For the first few months, only pizza and hot dogs were being served to takeout customers. Eventually, chicken bakes were added back on the menu, then ice cream and smoothies, and now, churros are making a grand return. According to Galanti, cooked items like breakfast sandwiches, noodle dishes, and meatballs are next.

Of course, some people go to Costco solely for the purpose of not buying food. The chain's free samples are a warehouse staple, and the plan at some locations is to add plexiglass around the food stands and have workers hand out samples to guests one at a time.

h/t CNN Business

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Kyler Alvord is a news writer at Thrillist. Find him on Twitter and Instagram. Or don't. It's really up to you.