Understanding the importance and popularity of outdoor dining during the COVID-19 crisis, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers said it plans to add tents to restaurants even as indoor dining resumes at most restaurants.
The company plans to outfit restaurants with “all-weather tents and booth partitions” in the early part of the fourth quarter. That along with indoor dining restarting in California, a core market, should help the company keep its momentum.
Red Robin provided investors with a mid-quarter business update on Thursday. Preliminary figures show that the brand is seeing sequential same-store sales improvements, especially at restaurants open for on-premise dining. Restaurants where outdoor seating has expanded are also seeing improved sales results.
For the week ended Sept. 6, company-operated restaurants reported a 21.9% drop in same-store sales. However, restaurants with limited indoor dining saw comps decline by 16.1%.
That’s a huge swing when compared to a 41.4% plunge in same-stores sales for the second quarter.
“We are encouraged by our improving comparable sales trend over the past several weeks as we continue to expand our seating capacity primarily through outdoor dining,” CEO Paul Murphy said in a statement.
Murphy said off-premise sales remain strong for both carryout and third-party delivery. For the quarter ended July 12, off-premise sales increased 208.7% and accounted for 63.8% of total sales.
“As we navigate through the pandemic, our team members are doing an incredible job prioritizing health and safety protocols while delivering consistent, quality execution of our brand promise with continued, record guest satisfaction scores,” he said.
As of Sept. 6, the company is operating approximately 349 indoor dining rooms with limited capacity, representing 85% of 412 currently open company-operated restaurants. In California, of the 54 locations open, 45 restaurants are open for limited dine-in services.
The Greenwood Village, Colo.-based company will be part of a series of fireside chats organized by the J.P. Morgan Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant & Leisure Management Access Forum. Red Robin’s virtual discussion will be Sept. 14.
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