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Dick's Drive-In
(GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, Seattle burger institution Dick’s Drive-In is asking customers to avoid handing over cash and to pay for food instead with credit or debit card or mobile options such as Apple Pay.

It’s an especially ironic twist for the beloved mini chain, which for 62 years accepted only cash. That tradition ended four years ago when Dick’s started taking plastic and modern forms of payment to appeal to a new generation of burger lovers.

In a recent Instagram post that showed a note to customers taped to a restaurant window, Dick’s said it was reacting “in an abundance of caution” in asking people to please avoid paying with cash. The restaurant said workers’ “additional sanitation requirements” for orders involving cash could impact “speed of service.”

Despite the request, Dick’s said it is still accepting cash at its seven Seattle-area locations.

Cash handling is a concern for spreading disease, according to some experts, who have said in reports that coronavirus is transmittable through surfaces, such as paper money.

“It is good hygiene practice to wash your hands after handling money, especially if eating or handling food,” the World Health Organization said in a statement, reported by CBS.

In another Instagram post a week ago, Dick’s said it was taking additional precautionary steps when it comes to cleaning and sanitization routines at restaurants, following CDC and Health Department recommendations for preventing the spread of coronavirus.

“The only reason people still carry cash in this city is to eat at Dick’s Drive-In,” Dick’s President Jim Spady said in 2016 when the transition to other payment methods began.

Founded in 1954, Dick’s has a loyal following among fast-food lovers, including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, whose taste for burgers has sparked interest whether he’s just standing in line or using a Dick’s burger as the scientific control against a plant-based patty.

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