Drive-Thru Stores in the United Kingdom to Welcome Customers Again – Here’s What to Expect

As has been the case since the onset of the outbreak, we continue to make every decision with the safety of our partners (employees) and customers as our greatest priority. During our closure we have been testing and refining our new operational plans and upweighted safety procedures, drawing where we can on the successes our global teams have seen in China (90% of stores now open) and the US (85% of stores now open) localising as necessary in line with the latest guidance form national government and health authorities.

With the easing of restrictions allowing more travel on roads, beginning 14 May we will begin a phased reopening of Starbucks Drive-Thru locations across the UK as well as a handful of takeaway-only stores. To find a store that is open near you, from 14 May, visit the store locator on

Your Starbucks Experience in the UK will look a little different, here’s what you can expect:

  • ‘To-Go’ only model – offered via Drive-Thru, takeaway or delivery – minimising partner and customer touchpoints. All drinks will be served in a to-go paper cup, although we will continue to honour the personal cup discount.
  • Social distancing will be in place inside our stores along with extra cleaning protocols and precautions, including more frequent cleaning and sanitizing of high-contact surface areas and increased handwashing by partners.
  • Contactless payments only either by card, phone, or the Starbucks Rewards app which also enables customers to order ahead. Plexiglass screens will also be in place across all our stores.
  • As a small gesture of gratitude for everything NHS workers have and continue to do, we’re offering a free Tall beverage of their choice at our stores across Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales). **Update June, 15**: The temporary offer of a free beverage to NHS workers has ended. To show our continued support, we'll still be offering the 10% Blue Light Card discount to all Emergency Services, NHS, social care sector, Armed Forces and veterans.
  • All stores will be serving a near-complete beverage menu, with everything from Lattes to Cappuccinos, Iced Coffees and Teas to Frappuccinos. Food will also be on offer but with a slightly more restricted menu, focused on our most popular items.
We have adapted our operations in accordance with government guidance and with additional measures to keep our partners and customers safe.

As partners prepare for a phased re-opening of stores, Starbucks UK General Manager, Alex Rayner recently shared the following letter to UK partners detailing the various experiences customers can expect under modified operation, including heightened safety protocols.

Dear Partners,

We are living in unprecedented times.  The impact COVID-19 has had on all of us is significant – each affected in their own way.  I want to thank you for your resilience and the kindness you have shown each other as we manage this, together.

Every decision we make as an organisation puts your health and well-being – and that of our customers – first. The temporary closures of our stores in March was a difficult decision but the right one.

During this time, we have been actively engaged with our China and US operations teams as well as operators in Europe who have seen their restrictions ease ahead of ours. We have been learning, testing and refining these operational standards every day and have tailored to the specific needs of our Government and healthcare officials. You will be able to work safely in our stores.

Therefore, it is with confidence I can say that we are now ready to enter our re-opening phase.

We continue to look to local guidance on the safe movement of people throughout the country now that we are past the peak, as well as the support of government to open Drive Thru*, providing delivery in addition to “to go” models and the anticipated easing of restrictions. Opening our stores in a responsible way is the next step.

We will begin the phased re-opening plan beginning May 14th with a focus on Drive Thru locations adding take-away, Mobile Order and Pay as well as delivery operations shortly thereafter. By staggering our approach, we can also sensibly ramp up our supply chain focusing first on a reduced menu of beverages and then fresh food to simplify operations. This will also enable our social distancing measures which will be further supported by shortened opening hours to reduce the number of partners on shift each day which will also allow greater flexibility to travel to and from work.

Our goal is to be fully open by the end of June, but we will take our time, adapting to customer behaviour and in-store capabilities along the way. You will get more detail on all our safety and operating measures from your District managers and Regional leaders shortly.

This process also allows us to accelerate our planned technology updates into relevant locations better servicing you and our customers as we continue to adapt to new ways of working.

I know many of you are looking forward to being back in store helping to get our teams, brand and country back up and running.  While we enter a “new normal”, the role coffee plays in creating connection and community hasn’t changed and now, more than ever, having something familiar is incredibly important. Coffee isn’t just a beverage – it’s also a symbol of normalcy and routine.

With your ongoing support, I am confident that our people, stores and business are set up for success and that we will get through this stronger than ever.

With thanks and respect,

Alex Rayner
General Manager, Retail UK

*Note: Government guidance referenced is as follows:

Takeaways and restaurants offering a pick-up service
Customers should be encouraged to order online, by app, or by phone.
Customers waiting to order or collect should wait in a designated area where a 2-metre distance from other people can be maintained. If this is not possible, customers should enter the premises one at a time and only when their order is ready to be made or collected.
Collection times should be staggered to discourage crowding outside the premises. Where queuing is taking place, you should use queue management systems to maintain a 2-metre distance between people

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