When the governor of California ordered indoor dining to stop in 19 counties, Chris Simms’ mobile phone began buzzing like crazy.
The founder and CEO of Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar said the rollback, tied to a spike in coronavirus cases in those counties, impacts 21 of his casual dining restaurants in California – the brand’s home turf.
Simms said he and his team have learned how to be nimble during the coronavirus pandemic so adjusting to the July 1 order is no different.
“Unfortunately, you know, we can pivot a little faster when shutting down a dining room, but it’s still not ideal,” he said during the latest NRN Extra Serving podcast.
Since launching the first Lazy Dog restaurant in 2003 in Southern California, Simms has grown the brand to 39 restaurants in seven states. The casual dining chain is among the Top 10 fastest growing chains in America, in both sales and units, according to NRN’s 2020 Top 200 census.
Despite the crisis, Lazy Dog still has plans to grow. Some markets are on pause, but the chain recently opened its second restaurant in Northern Virginia.
In our podcast, Simms talks about the challenges of launching a new location during a pandemic, the controversy over mask wearing in restaurants, how the company deals with different reopening rules in each state, and how he manages to sustain the business with occupancy caps.
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