The Argument for Ordering Takeout

Matthew Kotcher, Staff Writer

Quarantined Chicagoans who refrain from utilizing the takeout and delivery services of their favorite joints due to fears of the coronavirus are missing out.

To those questioning the safety of restaurants: go for it, but use your common sense.

While a commitment to social distancing is a necessity, restaurant takeout can be as safe as a grocery store, provided that the necessary precautions are taken by the establishment and the customer. Takeout helps our local businesses which are sorely in need, assists those who can’t cook, and makes it easier to be stuck at home.

Per the governor’s order, all nonessential services are shut down. Exempt from this order are public transit, pharmacies, grocery stores… and restaurants. Restaurants, which are barred from hosting patrons, are still permitted to operate through delivery and takeout. The Mayor shut down the parks, shut down the schools, and shut down the museums, so if there were insurmountable safety concerns regarding restaurants, they would be closed too. 

Freshman Cameron Woan, who enjoys occasional orders of Greek food and fried chicken, predicted, “if a restaurant is doing takeout, it has to be confident that it’s safety measures are good enough so that a person who eats their food does not get coronavirus. Because if they know that their safety measures aren’t top-notch and somebody ends up contracting the virus, the business is done forever.” However, just because restaurants are open for curbside or delivery by no means implies that they are completely safe. But contactless delivery, precautions in food preparation, and attention to social distancing mitigate the risk greatly.

Local businesses are struggling. The country is in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and every small business needs whatever help they can get. Ordering takeout helps these restaurants stay in business. If they are able to stay open, their employees can continue to support themselves and whoever depends on them. Economists are predicting that if a restaurant closes, they will have trouble ever reopening. 

Freshman Luca Tricoci, whose family turns to takeout once or twice a week, hopes that more will be less afraid to order from restaurants and pointed out “we don’t want to see a bunch of restaurants close down.” Being able to get through this difficult time with only the revenue from takeout may mean the difference between the business making it or not. 

Since Illinoisans will likely be sheltering in place for at least another month, people may as well spice up their diet with meals from their favorite restaurants to break the monotony of quarantine. 

Henry Coleman, a junior, takes regular takeout orders from steakhouses to Italian restaurants. When asked about his thoughts on the safety of takeout, Coleman said “it’s not super high risk and it’s nice to have the variation.” Coleman also emphasized that all of us have a role to play in assisting small businesses when they are hurting and adds “you might as well do your part in keeping the economy afloat during these dire times.” While walking into a restaurant to pick up food or getting it delivered isn’t foolproof, shopping in a grocery store or getting groceries delivered by Instacart or similar service pose the same risks. 

As we all know, anything but pure isolation carries risk during this time of contagion. Takeout from a restaurant becomes safer by contactless delivery or pickup, wearing gloves and a mask when entering, cutting the bag off carefully from your food, disinfecting the containers, and most importantly, washing your hands carefully between handling the containers and eating. This bears repeating: wash your hands, don’t touch your face. Of course, there are reasons not to order in beside the safety concerns. Many restaurants are expensive. So take it in moderation both to preserve your physical health and just to be fiscally responsible. There is no need for your favorite pancake house or sushi bar three times a day seven days a week. 

But to those who are bored of the same five dinner recipes, can’t look at another bowl of ramen, or who have no food in the house because they are afraid of the supermarket, breathe and indulge yourselves with good old fashioned takeout. In fact, order a little extra so you have some left the next day.