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Fiesta Restaurant Group will release full Q2 earnings on Aug. 5.

Fiesta Restaurant Group closes Pollo Tropical, Taco Cabana dining rooms amid coronavirus surge

Fast-casual company says same-store sales improved as Q2 progressed during pandemic

Fiesta Restaurant Group Inc., parent to the fast-casual Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana brands, said same-store sales improved as the second quarter progressed, but recent coronavirus spikes has led it to close all its dining rooms again.

The Dallas-based company, which will release full earnings for the June 28-ended second quarter on Aug. 5, said the period’s same-store sales were down 31.6% at Pollo Tropical and down 19.2% at Taco Cabana.

“We are very encouraged by the significant sequential improvement in comparable restaurant sales at both brands in the second quarter, which has continued into the third quarter,” said Richard Stockinger, Fiesta president and CEO, in a statement Thursday. “These improving trends have come despite the fact that we are operating in two of the most challenged states in terms of COVID and economic conditions, Florida and Texas.”

In the first two weeks of the third quarter, a period ended July 12, same-store sales declines were 12.2% at Pollo Tropical and 13.4% at Taco Cabana, the company reported. The worst declines had come in fiscal April, when same-store sale fell 49.2% at Pollo Tropical and 26.2% at Taco Cabana.

Stockinger said the company had expanded off-premise options at both brands, expanding delivery options and adding new curbside and pick-up capabilities.

“We have been taking ongoing steps to ensure a safe operating environment throughout this crisis,” Stockinger added. “Effective July 12, we made the decision to close all of our dining rooms until further notice to ensure team member and guest safety. We will continue to operate our restaurants for drive-thru, delivery and pick up, and we are accelerating efforts to better enable our customers to enjoy our brands safely and conveniently across all channels.”

The company said it also finalized an amendment to its credit agreement to adjust for current sales trends. The company’s cash balance as of June 28 was $101.6 million.

As of March 29, Fiesta Restaurant Group owned and operated 141 Pollo Tropical restaurants and 146 Taco Cabana restaurants. All of the Pollo Tropical restaurants were in Florida, and all of the Taco Cabana restaurants were in Texas.

In addition, the company franchised 33 Pollo Tropical restaurants and eight Taco Cabana restaurants. The franchised Pollo Tropical restaurants include 17 in Puerto Rico, four in Panama, two in Guyana, one in Ecuador, one in the Bahamas, seven on college campuses and one at a hospital in Florida. The franchised Taco Cabana restaurants include six in New Mexico and two on college campuses in Texas.

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Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

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