The chicken pulley system at McHardy’s Chicken & Fixin’, which allows for socially distanced pickup.
The chicken pulley system at McHardy’s Chicken & Fixin’, which allows for socially distanced pickup.
Screenshot: Vice (YouTube)

“You’ve got to be creative these days.” That’s what Rahman Mogilles, owner of McHardy’s Chicken & Fixin’ in New Orleans, told the Times-Picayune in reference to his restaurant’s clever social distancing procedures that keep patrons and employees apart in a way that feels, if not necessarily natural, then at least not clinical, either. Vice also featured McHardy’s in a recent video, and all the new tactics were on full display. Watch below for great footage of long sticks, pulleys, and strategically placed furniture.

Long benches that previously seated multiple parties waiting for their orders are now placed up front and flipped backwards to provide an extra buffer between the customer and the counter. Long-handled baskets (not unlike the collection plates at church!) are waved in front of patrons to accept payment. And best of all, a pulley system sends the fried chicken and hush puppies along a miniature zip line toward the customer, who then unclips the bag and goes on their merry way without ever getting within a dozen feet of the register.

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The new measures decrease “the chance of any human body fluids coming across the counter,” says Mogilles in the video. “People get really excited about this chicken—their mouth is so juicy, so you kind of want to keep it distanced.” To underline his point, Mogilles even installed a sheet of hard plastic in front of the register as an added precaution against “juicy-mouthedness.” Rarely do we hear such a compelling argument for sampling fried chicken. (Though we’ve never needed the nudge, either.)

The whole thing might read like a gimmick at first, but as businesses like McHardy’s fight to stay open and pay their bills, these measures are a highly visible gesture to the community to show just how much neighborhood restaurants wish to welcome back the public. Provided that customers can keep their drooling to a minimum, of course.

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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