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Burgerville begins reopening dining rooms

The fast food chain has been operating on a drive-thru and delivery-only model for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Fast food company Burgerville has begun to reopen its dining rooms and indoor ordering counters for the first time in two years.

The Vancouver-based chain announced on Wednesday that 21 of its 40 dining rooms are now open, with the remainder scheduled to be open by the end of April. Most of Burgerville's restaurants are in the Portland metro area. 

"Each restaurant is in a different place when it comes to hiring and staffing," CEO Ed Casey said in a statement. "As soon as a restaurant has enough team members, they are opening the doors and welcoming guests back in."

Burgerville closed all of its dining rooms at the start of the pandemic on March 14, 2020, although it kept most of its locations open with smaller crews for drive-thru, to-go and delivery service. The company laid off about 42% of its workforce a month later, The Columbian reported.

RELATED: Burgerville, workers ratify nation's first fast-food union contract

Burgerville has stuck with that model ever since, even during the spring and summer of 2021 when most COVID restrictions were lifted. The company cited labor shortages as part of the problem, since opening up the dining rooms would require staffing all the way back up to pre-pandemic levels.

The company announced last summer that it was working on a plan to move back to full capacity and reopen the dining rooms, but the plan appeared to have been put on hold when the delta variant set off a new wave of COVID cases just a few weeks later.

RELATED: Burgerville to reopen closed restaurants, expects union contract ratified soon

The chain closed five locations indefinitely in the late summer, citing a mix of pandemic challenges and local conditions, although some of them reopened in November.

Burgerville announced last month that it would no longer require employees to be vaccinated, following a Supreme Court ruling that struck down a federal mandate for businesses.

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