Chill — Costco's Member-Only Food Court Policy Isn't New

A Costco in Orlando, Florida, has posted signage announcing that it will no longer allow non-members into its food court starting April 8, according to a Reddit post shared on March 3. While this would normally signify a huge change in Costco food court operations, this same policy was actually implemented at many locations four years ago. Even at that time, however, certain stores were already limiting food court access to cardholders only — a 2018 Reddit post shows a similar sign at a Costco in an unspecified location.

A number of commenters on the 2024 thread acknowledged that their Costco food courts already deny concessions access to non-members. A few folks even noted that, when their locations adopted the policy, it had the welcome effect of making the food court lines a lot shorter. As the subreddit where this was posted is devoted to all things Costco, it's reasonable to assume many of these commenters are already members. It's likely, though, that non-members who are used to enjoying those famous $1.50 Costco hot dog combos might have a different take on the matter.

The policy may be universal, but it's apparently difficult to enforce

Back in February 2020, Fox Business got in touch with Costco customer service to inquire about the then-upcoming ban on non-member food court patronage, which went into effect in March of that year. As with the policy's most recent resurgence, the announcement came in the form of signs posted around various Costco locations. A company representative confirmed to the outlet that this policy would be put into effect on the stated date at locations where it wasn't already in place.

One issue that arose, however, was that warm-climate Costcos with outdoor food courts had difficulty enforcing the policy. Four years on, this still seems to be the case; one California commenter on the March 2024 Reddit thread noted that they've never seen an outdoor Costco food court check membership cards. Another person, however, reported that their SoCal location's outdoor court has been doing so for several years.

The policy — or at least its enforcement — appears to vary by location, so if you're a non-member wondering whether or not a specific store will let you eat at its food court, you have a couple of options: You can call to inquire (just don't be surprised if they tell you no), try your chances in person, or just pony up that $60 fee. If you refuse to pay to dine (or shop) at Costco, you can always learn to love the Ikea food court instead.