In perhaps the most delicious sign of life starting to return to normal as the U.S. gets the COVID-19 pandemic (mostly) under control, Costco is bringing back free samples. Beyond low prices, bulk sizes, and a dizzying product assortment, Costco’s free food samples are, of course, one of the most beloved things about shopping at the warehouse giant. The tiny paper cups of lemonade! The toothpick-stabbed nuggets of meats or cheeses! Fancy cookies! We’ll take them all.
The warehouse chain announced that it is “beginning a phased return to full sampling” in early June after stopping the practice in March 2020 amid COVID-19 concerns. Roughly 170 U.S. locations will bring back food samples in the first week of June with “most of the remaining locations” returning toward the end of June, said Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti on Thursday’s earning call.
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“Increased safety protocols are and will be in place, including all samples prepared behind plexiglass, prepared in smaller batches for better safety control and distribute it to members one at a time,” Galanti added.
The stores will also start bringing back its food courts, a perk that Costco members enjoyed pre-pandemic, but which had its menu reduced to hot dogs and pizza for takeout only because of COVID-19. Some stores will have outdoor food courts and, also starting in June, indoor seating will be back at most of the chain’s 560 U.S. locations — but with about half the seating capacity to allow for “more physical separation” between diners. Food court visitors will even be able to try Costco’s “new and improved” churros, available July 4, and high-end soft ice cream will replace frozen yogurt this summer.
So if you don’t already have a Costco membership, now would be an excellent — and tasty! — time to get one.
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