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j alexanders restaurant storefront.png J. Alexander's
Parent company of J. Alexander’s, shown, said the multi-unit operator is seeing a rapid pandemic recovery thanks to loyalty of core guests.

 J. Alexander’s Holdings CEO on rapid pandemic recovery: ‘The worst of the storm has passed’

September sales show huge gains compared to peak pandemic downturn; casual-dining brand credits speedy recovery to frequent visits from core guests.

J. Alexander’s Holdings Inc., the parent company of J. Alexander’s and Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill, said the company is experiencing a rapid recovery from the pandemic with September sales showing huge gains.

In a business update released Friday, Mark A. Parkey, CEO of the Nashville, Tenn.-based multi-unit operator, credited the recovery to loyal guests sticking with the brand. Off-premise sales have also remained a key revenue driver even as dining rooms reopen.

The company said sales volumes for the first three weeks of September 2020 are, on average, at 90% of 2019 sales for the same period.

“Our sales trends, improving margins and our ability to maintain our carry out volumes even as the dining rooms have generated steadily increasing sales, all indicate that the worst of the storm has passed,” Parkey said in a statement.

Same-store sales at J. Alexander’s and other banners (except Stoney River Steakhouse) were down 9.9% in the first three weeks of September. That compares to double digit declines in July and August. Stoney River same-store sales declined 11.2% during the 3-week September period, rebounding from a 25.2% decline in the month of July.

“As we’ve shared in previous communications, there will be winners and losers when the pandemic is over and our goal from the very beginning has been to be one of the winners,” Parkey said.

Parkey said nearly all 46 restaurants are operating under various seating capacity limitations as restrictions vary from state-to-state. When averaging capacity levels at each restaurant, the company estimated seating was limited to 57% of capacity systemwide.

Historically, 16% of diners drive about 66% of visits.That is holding true throughout the pandemic.

“That core group of guests has been the backbone of our recovery to this point, much as they were in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008-2009,” the CEO said.

 The company’s full third quarter ends Sept. 29.

“While we are still aware of the hurdles that remain on the horizon, and we are still taking abundant precautions within all of our restaurants to ensure the health and safety of our guests as well as our employees, we are extremely excited about the opportunity in front of us to emerge from the pandemic a stronger company than we were a few short months ago,” Parkey said.

The company operates 46 restaurants in 16 states.  

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven


TAGS: Coronavirus
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