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April 2, 2020 1:00 PM, EDT

Franchise Restaurants Work Together to Feed Truckers

McDonald'sMcDonald’s is offering curbside delivery service and is encouraging drivers to use the chain’s app for mobile ordering and payment. (Richard Vogel/Associated Press)

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Some familiar franchise restaurants are taking steps to provide truck drivers with access to meals and parking while they’re making deliveries to help the nation combat the COVID-19 crisis.

At least seven franchise food companies — Firehouse Subs, Long John Silver’s, McDonald’s, Nathan’s Famous, Ruby Tuesday, Shoney’s and Sonic — are offering additional parking and drive-through accommodations, while Long John Silver’s and Ruby Tuesday are offering discounted meals for truck drivers, according to the International Franchise Association, which is partnering with American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to help distribute word of the program to truck drivers.

“IFA heard of this need in the trucking community, and we started reaching out to our members, and we already have seven companies cross the line to accommodate truck drivers, and we are having ongoing conversations with others,” IFA Vice President Josh Merin told Transport Topics. “All of us in the franchise community have a deep appreciation for the critical role that truck drivers are playing — they always play — but are doing now to keep critical supplies intact and maintaining the businesses that would not be able to stay operating.”

IFA Vice President Josh Merin

Merin

Both ATA and OOIDA are distributing information about these programs to their members.

“This is a time where all of us have a common cause, and the more we come together, the better off we will be,” Merin said. “Truck drivers play such a central role in supplying many of these restaurants themselves.”

To that end, he noted that the program is also beneficial for the restaurants, many of which are prohibited from offering dine-in accommodations.

“Many restaurants are facing significant challenges at the moment, and it’s a wonderful win-win where the restaurants can make special accommodations on behalf of truck drivers, and truck drivers can help keep the restaurants supplied and offer some business to the restaurants that are struggling to stay open,” Merin said. Many of the more than 1,000 Firehouse Subs locations are in shopping centers and strip malls where parking is abundant. At these sites, drivers can order ahead and have a meal ready when they arrive.

The more than 200 Long John Silver’s locations are offering drivers a 10% daily discount and a 25% reduction on Thursdays. Some locations are offering grab-and-go service.

McDonald’s is offering curbside delivery service and is encouraging drivers to use the chain’s app for mobile ordering and payment.

“Thank you again for all you’re doing during this uncertain time,” said Bill Garrett, McDonald’s senior vice president for operations. “Know that we’re doing everything we can to be there for you as long as we can. We’re in this together.”

James Walker, Nathan’s Famous senior vice president, added, “Across our stores that remain open, amidst varying state and local government mandates, we are ready and willing to serve you. We at Nathan’s Famous are incredibly grateful for the dedication and commitment America’s truck drivers have shown as we navigate this increasingly difficult time. We hope to, as a brand, help alleviate some of their stress by providing them with a way to find a fresh meal, in an easy-to-access and safe way.”

Ruby Tuesday is offering drivers a 25% discount on any to-go order between noon and 8 p.m. When ordering online, drivers should enter the number 25 when prompted.

Shoney’s has restaurants open in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia. The company said it has ample parking for drivers and encourages them to either call orders in ahead or order online.

Sonic is encouraging drivers to use its mobile app. Once they arrive, drivers can park their truck and walk to the patio to have the order delivered to them. At locations where the patios are closed, takeout is available. Sonic also has modified the drive-through at its locations in Valliant, Okla., and Fordyce, Ark., to handle big rigs.

Merin said he expects more restaurants to join the effort.

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