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BJ's Restaurants Inc. says about 70% of its restaurant dining rooms are open today,

BJ’s closes dining rooms that had reopened in coronavirus easing

July infection spikes in California and elsewhere reduce units with indoor dining to 70% from 95% of system

BJ’s Restaurants Inc. this month has reclosed a number of its dining rooms after they had reopened in the wake of coronavirus restrictions, the company said Thursday.

The Huntington Beach, Calif.-based casual-dining brand, which released second-quarter earnings Thursday, said about “70% of our restaurant dining rooms are open today, in a limited capacity, compared to 95% in late June.”

A number of states and counties in California and elsewhere have rolled back reopening phases as they experience spikes in COVID-19 infections, forcing restaurants to reduce or again close indoor dining.

“The entrepreneurial spirit of our restaurant operators was on full display as teams acted swiftly to create welcoming and comfortable outdoor seating areas around the perimeter of our restaurants as well as under large and lighted tents in our parking lots,” said Greg Trojan, CEO of BJ’s, in a business update that accompanied the company’s earnings release.

“These efforts have allowed us to continue to serve our guests in locations where indoor dining is not currently permitted and to expand our seating where dine-in capacity is limited,” Trojan said. “As a result, our restaurants are currently maintaining approximately 60% of historical business volumes compared to June when our restaurants recaptured more than 70% of historical business volumes.”

After the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March, BJ’s closed its dining rooms and transitioned to a take-away and delivery-only operating model. As of Thursday, the company said one restaurant remains temporarily closed, and dine-in service is currently limited or not available and menu offerings and hours are limited in the remaining 208 restaurants.

Trojan said BJ’s grew its average weekly off-premise sales per restaurant to more than $30,000 a week by late April, a threefold increase from pre-COVID levels.

“Throughout May and June, we reopened the majority of our dining rooms with capacity limitations for social distancing,” he said. “By late June, our weekly sales average per restaurant improved to approximately $75,000, and we generated restaurant level cash flow margin percentages in the mid-teens range.”

In the second quarter ended June 30, BJ’s swung to a net loss of $45.7 million, or $1.38 a share, from a profit of $15.8 million, or 68 cents a share, in the same period last year. Revenues fell 57.5% to $128 million from $301.1 million in the prior-year quarter.

Same-store sales in the quarter fell 57.2%, the company said.

BJ’s Restaurants, founded in 1978, owns and operates 209 casual-dining restaurants in 29 states.

BJ’s expects to open one more restaurant, in Orange Village, Ohio, during the fourth quarter. The company has canceled or delayed all of its remaining new restaurant openings for 2020.

In May, BJ’s Restaurants Inc. agreed to sell $70 million in common shares to Boston-based Act III Holdings LLC, an investment fund run by former Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich, and T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. funds.

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Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

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