See more of the story

Costco’s beloved $2 pizza slice and the $1.50 hot dog with drink are back for all the nonmembers who crave them. But they were never really gone.

Reports of Costco restricting food court access only to members surfaced a few days ago, causing an online outcry, but one Twin Cities Costco general manager said that the only clubs that won’t allow nonmembers to use the food court are in California.

Even at those clubs, including one in San Diego, the change is a test that may not become permanent, he said.

Technically, membership is required to purchase items at the food court, but it is not enforced. A membership card is not required to be shown or swiped for payment at the food courts.

Nonmembers typically avoid being stopped for their membership card at the entrance by entering through the exit where cards are not checked.

Most Costco store layouts place food courts near the exit making the food court purchases convenient.

Nonmembers are also allowed to purchase prescriptions and alcohol at Costco, as well as similar membership retailers like Sam’s Club, because of federal or state laws.

At Sam’s Clubs, nonmembers can tell the attendant they are only using the food court or pharmacy to be admitted to the store.

Costco and Sam’s Club liquor stores in Minnesota have separate entrances because of Minnesota law, and do not require a membership card.

Costco’s basic membership costs $60 annually. Sam’s Club charges $45.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633