Olive Garden is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every week from just one location in New York City because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Times Square Olive Garden typically brings in $15 million a year, but now it’s losing $300,000 a week. That’s because of state restrictions on indoor dining, said Gene Lee, the CEO of Olive Garden’s parent company Darden Restaurants, on a Thursday call to investors.
“We start every single week $300,000 in the hole from a comp store basis,” Lee said about the Times Square location.
In fact, he said that location alone is costing the chain “50 basis points in comps.”
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“That’s our best restaurant in the Olive Garden system,” he said. “We do over $15 million there and now we’re doing, you know, $2,500 a day.”
On Thursday, Darden Restaurants reported that Olive Garden’s same-restaurant sales were down 28.2 percent.
The Olive Garden locations that performed better during the quarter were restaurants that were allowed to offer indoor dining, Lee said.
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“Overall, capacity restrictions continue to limit their top-line sales, particularly in key high-volume markets like California and New Jersey, where dining rooms were closed for the majority of the quarter,” Lee said. “In fact, restaurants that had some level of dining room capacity for the entire quarter averaged more than $75,000 in weekly sales, retaining nearly 80 percent of their last year’s sales.”
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Olive Garden isn’t the only restaurant to be negatively impacted by capacity restrictions on indoor dining. Earlier this week, a study from the NYC Hospitality Alliance found that 87 percent of restaurants, bars and nightclubs in New York City were unable to pay their full rent in August.
“Even before the pandemic when operating at 100 percent occupancy, these small businesses were struggling to stay open,” Andrew Rigie, the NYC Hospitality Alliance executive director, said in a statement.
“Now we’re seeing widespread closures, approximately 150,000 industry workers are still out of their jobs, and the overwhelming majority of these remaining small businesses cannot afford to pay rent,” Rigie added.
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However, restaurants in the city — including the Times Square Olive Garden — will be allowed to reopen for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity starting on Sept. 30.