With most industries experiencing rapid change due to the coronavirus pandemic, Chili’s has worked to reinvent itself as it starts to reopen locations. The restaurant chain, owned by Brinker International (NYSE: EAT) will be accepting customers back into its dining rooms while following the guidelines instituted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Just before the end of April same-store sales were down 42.1% compared to the previous year, by the beginning of June sales were down only 18.9%. To provide the best and safest service, staff will be required to wear gloves and masks, menus will be disposable and tables will be spaced out to provide the appropriate distancing measures.
Brinker International revealed that Chili’s is outdoing the rest of the casual dining restaurants and even gaining market share from competitors. Nevertheless, Chili’s sister chain Maggiano’s Little Italy, finds its same-store sales still suffering, dipping almost 70% at the beginning of May. Both chain’s are situated in urban areas or malls which have been greatly affected by the global pandemic.
“It’s going to take a little bit for those concepts to get back,” said Brinker CEO Wyman Roberts.
The dynamic within the restaurant will be modified according to health regulations, meaning there may be a longer delay to be seated and waiting must be done from outside the restaurant.
“If they came back today and said, ‘Hey, you could be at 80% of capacity,’ well, we probably couldn’t because we’re going to keep 6 feet apart,” Roberts said. “That’s going to limit the total capacity of the restaurant.”
The company’s shares have plunged 35% in 2020.