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Olive Garden’s Times Square restaurant is losing $300,000 every week

  • Olive Garden’s Times Square location is losing $300,000 every week. 
  • Olive Garden same-store sales fell by 28.2% in the most recent quarter, parent company Darden reported on Thursday. Fifty basis points — or 0.5% — can be linked to the Times Square location. 
  • New York City has been slower to reopen restaurants than the rest of the US, and has not yet allowed indoor dining rooms to reopen. 
  • “I went up to a rooftop deck and it was two deep at the bar,” Darden CEO Gene Lee told investors. “It’s just a different life in Georgia. I know it’s hard for you guys in New York to even imagine that.” 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Olive Garden’s Times Square restaurant is burning through $300,000 every week, as New York City restaurants struggle to survive. 

Pre-pandemic, Olive Garden’s Times Square restaurant was the chain’s best-preforming location in the US, bringing in $15 million a year. Now the location is losing $300,000 every single week, according to Olive Garden parent company Darden’s CEO Gene Lee. 

“We start every single week $300,000 in the hole from a comp store basis … just from that one restaurant,” Lee said on a call with investors on Thursday. 

Olive Garden same-store sales fell by 28.2% in the most recent quarter, Darden reported on Thursday. According to Lee, 50 basis points can be linked to the Times Square location’s losses. 

While Olive Garden has higher costs as a massive, three-story restaurant in the heart of Times Square, most New York restaurants are struggling to turn a profit. According to a recent survey by the New York City Hospitality Alliance, 87% of the city’s restaurants, bars, and nightlife establishments could not pay full rent in August. 

New York City has been slower to reopen indoor dining than the rest of the country. Restaurants will not be allowed to reopen dining rooms at 25% capacity until September 30. 

Lee told Wall Street analysts that outside of cities “life is normal,” with people happy to return to restaurants inside. The majority of Olive Garden restaurants are now profitable, with sales being dragged down by restaurants in areas with greater restrictions, according to Lee.

“I landed at an airport the other day and not one person had a mask on. I was in a hotel, I went up to a rooftop deck and it was two deep at the bar,” Lee said. “It’s just a different life in Georgia. I know it’s hard for you guys in New York to even imagine that.” 

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