Sales at TGI Fridays are still down by around 50 percent, according to CEO Ray Blanchette

By Maria Pasquini
May 28, 2020 04:04 PM
TGI Fridays
TGI Fridays

Although TGI Fridays has transitioned to pickup and delivery amid the coronavirus pandemic, dozens of stores across the United States may never open their doors to customers again.

In a new interview with Bloomberg, Chief Executive Officer Ray Blanchette said that up to 20 percent of the restaurant chain’s 386 stores in the country could remain permanently closed.

Sales at TGI Fridays dropped by about 80 percent almost as soon as the health crisis took hold of the country, and revenue is still down by around 50 percent, according to Blanchette.

“Right now it’s all triage and it’s all about cash,” he said. “How are you going to make it through and keep the company solvent?”

For now, the company is also trying out a new service in New Hampshire, which will allow diners to eat outside, underneath a white tent, while remaining at a safe social distance from fellow guests.

Although some restaurants have been packed with people as states around the country begin reopening, the restaurant industry is not predicted to make a full recovery from the crisis.

The CEO of OpenTable, a reservation-making system, has predicted that a quarter of restaurants in the country will not be able to reopen. Recent data from OpenTable shows that reservations and walk-ins are currently down by over 84 percent.

As restaurants and bars across the country are faced with implementing unprecedented precautionary measures, they could struggle with safety.

A recent study found that nine people were infected with COVID-19 after they dined at a restaurant near a person who had not yet shown symptoms, likely because the air conditioning system recycled virus particles through the room. A video of a blacklight experiment that showed how quickly coronavirus could spread at a restaurant if just one person is infected also went viral on social media earlier this month.

“I am an eating enthusiast who loves going out to eat with my friends and family, and as much as I’m eager for restaurants to reopen … we just don’t know enough about transmission to really estimate the risk of infection,”  Angela Rasmussen, a virologist and associate research scientist at Columbia University, recently told Eater.

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