While takeout and delivery have been touted as a restaurant-saving Covid pivot, not every restaurant found itself in the ideal setting to take advantage of it. For instance, restaurants at Mall of America were open for takeout during the governor’s mandated closure of indoor dining, but shoppers were much less likely to shop, drop in for takeout and roll out the napkins to eat in their cars.

On our visit during what would have been the height of the holiday season in normal years, dining areas were roped off in both the common areas and inside the restaurants. Some barricaded the entryways with makeshift counters to turn casual dining spots into takeout only.

Snack concepts selling items like donuts, cookies and beverages fared a bit better, because people could walk, sip and eat, however, with masks required for entry, that tradition of Americana shopping presented a challenge as well.

In keeping with the state’s orders, a plethora of signage was placed around the mall, stating: “Please Take Meals + Snacks to Go! Food + Beverage Consumption is Not Allowed Inside.”

Not everyone could resist the urge to plop down on the floor to eat their lunch and take a break from shopping. And for those rule-breakers, the mall had a team of enforcers decked out in red T-shirts and carrying signs with the mandate printed on them.

We watched two encounters in which the employees tactfully reminded diners they couldn’t eat in the mall and the offenders were quick to comply.

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