Ruth’s Hospitality Group is reopening steakhouse dining rooms this month at 12 of its 86 company operated restaurants in Texas, Florida and Tennessee, the fine dining chain announced Friday during its first quarter conference call.
The reopenings come as more than a dozen franchise restaurants have already reopened dining rooms at limited seating capacity ranging from 25% to 50%. The company did not share the locations of the reopened restaurants.
At the end of the quarter, about 61 restaurants were temporarily closed. In April, same-store sales decreased 83.5% at company stores.
Roughly 20 to 30 more restaurants could reopen by the end of the second quarter, depending on state-by-state lifts of stay-at-home orders. The company’s largest concentration of restaurants are in California, Florida and Hawaii.
“The remainder [of openings] will come in waves,” CEO Cheryl Henry said.
Each restaurant will follow state and local guidelines for reopening dining rooms, which could result in a variety of seating capacity rules.
“This is not a uniform process,” Henry said.
The Winter Park, Fla.-based steakhouse chain said it has made several changes to ensure guest and employee safety.
Workers will wear masks, a standard requirement in most states that are reopening. To limit menu handling, dinner and wine menus will be available via QR codes sent to the personal devices of guests. Small, private seating will also be available. Some restaurants are also looking at expanding outdoor dining.
The number of employees checking in on tables will be reduced for safety; however, customers can still expect high-level hospitality, Henry said.
Consumer desire to dine out again will likely depend on each market, Henry added. Some franchise restaurants that have reopened have reported evenings where they’ve reached their 50% seating capacity.
Even with dining rooms reopening, Henry said the company still plans to continue delivery through multiple third-party providers and online ordering, which the company recently rolled out.
“Off premise may stay fairly strong for awhile,” the CEO said.
Total revenues for the quarter decreased 9.4% to $108.5 million. Net loss of $3.8 million, compared to net income of $13.9 million the first quarter of 2019.
Same-store sales at company stores decreased 13.5% in the first quarter. The company has more than 150 Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations around the world.
For our most up-to-date coverage, visit the coronavirus homepage.
Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven