COVID-19 Insights & Resources Archive

View Punchh’s unique insights as well as key COVID-related industry actions, updates, and communications.

Our goal is to share information and best practices that our industry can collectively leverage to prepare for the future.

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Best Practices
  • Punchh Best Practices: Campaign Tactics to Stay Relevant & Maintain Engagement (Download)
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  • Punchh Best Practices: Top 5 Proven Food Service Tactics During COVID-19 (Download)
Restaurant & C-STORE Actions

July 1, 2020

  • Wingstop Inc. has opened its first domestic delivery-only ghost kitchen in Garland, TX, a suburb east of Dallas.
  • New York-based Aurify Brands LLC hopes to reopen more than 40 shuttered locations of Le Pain Quotidien as soon as mid-July after acquiring the locations out of bankruptcy in a deal that closed Tuesday.
  • Papa John’s continues to improve their financial outlook and performance despite the disastrous economic effects of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry. The chain announced that same-store sales have been up 24% in North America over a five week period ended on June 28, and that international same-store sales ­— which have been a sore spot for Papa John’s since the pandemic began — saw a 6% uptick.
  • Shake Shack said it is “firing up” its growth in China with plans to open 55 restaurants by 2030.
  • Chick-fil-A took the top spot in the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s annual report on fast-food chains.
  • NPC International Inc., the largest franchisee of Pizza Hut restaurants in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy after coronavirus-related shutdowns added to competitive pressures in the restaurant industry.

June 30, 2020

  • NPC International Inc., is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection despite its brands reporting a bump in sales since the coronavirus pandemic. The owner of more than 1,200 Pizza Hut restaurants and 385 Wendy’s Co. stores could file for chapter 11 protection as soon as Tuesday.
  • Luckin Coffee announced Friday that the company had withdrawn its request for a Nasdaq hearing, months after delisting notice following a fraud scandal that resulted in fabricated financial numbers. As a result, the company’s shares will be removed from the Nasdaq stock market on June 29.
  • Rave Restaurant Group, Inc. reported a disappointing third quarter ended on March 29, tied to the economic impact of the global pandemic, with same-store sales of Pie Five down 21.4% and same-store sales of Pizza Inn down 7.8%.
  • Restaurant Brands International Inc., parent to the Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen brands, is committing to diversity in corporate hiring, the company said Monday.
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill is adding Grubhub as new delivery partner.

June 26, 2020

  • McDonald’s confirmed this week that the company will close the famed corporate store in Times Square, a move that was in the works prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told CNBC, “McDonald’s has created more millionaires within the Black community than probably any other corporation on the planet, but there’s still work to do,” following reports of Black franchisees netting $68,000 less a month when compared to McDonald’s overall franchisee average.
  • Yum Brands said it plans to invest $100 million to fight inequality, with a global initiative designed to improve opportunities for frontline restaurant workers at its fast food brands and increase the diversity of the company’s executive teams.
  • Darden Restaurants Inc. is installing temporary plastic barriers to provide seating expansion. Darden’s CEO reported social-distancing limits for dining rooms are constraining the restaurant group’s units more than local coronavirus capacity restrictions.
  • Jersey Mike’s CEO, Peter Cancro, has announced he is financing new stores through a new special ownership program called the Coach Rod Smith Ownership program, which is geared towards managers looking for help in starting their own franchise.

June 25, 2020

  • Chuck E. Cheese’s parent company CEC Entertainment filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The coronavirus pandemic has upended its business, with same-store sales falling 21.9% during the first quarter.
  • Darden Restaurants swung to a loss during its fiscal fourth quarter as the coronavirus pandemic weighed on its sales. The company’s revenue fell 43% and across all of its brands, same-store sales fell 47.7%.
  • Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc. hired investment bank Miller Buckfire & Co. and turnaround adviser Mackinac Partners to explore a potential restructuring following the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on a business model that was already deteriorating.
  • As dining rooms reopen, Shake Shack will look to bring back some items introducing new limited-time offers like Hot Chick’n Bites, and possibly expanding the veggie burger test. Its restaurants in high foot traffic areas such as New York City and Las Vegas struggle to meet pre-coronavirus numbers.

June 24, 2020

  • Dine Brands Global Inc., the parent company of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP restaurants, has named Tony Moralejo to the newly created position of President for International and Global Development and Justin Skelton as Chief Information Officer.
  • Todd Graves, founder and CEO of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, will be investing $2 million and his time to help at least 20 independent restaurant owners overcome the struggles of the coronavirus pandemic.

June 23, 2020

  • Chick-fil-A’s CEO, Dan Cathy, is coming under fire for publically shining the shoes of black Christian rapper Lecrae in a supposed act of repentance for the “shame and embarrassment” of past racial misgivings.

June 22, 2020

  • Rubio’s Coastal Grill confirmed this week that it will permanently shutter a dozen restaurants due to the business impact of COVID-19.
  • Chuck E. Cheese is fielding interest from creditors and other potential suitors as some bricks-and-mortar establishments struggle to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

June 19, 2020

  • McDonald’s expects to hire 260,000 workers in the US this summer as it reopens dining rooms in conjunction with nearly 50 new safety procedures to protect employees and customers. The Company also plans to add back seven menu items throughout July, but dozens more will remain off of the menu including salads. Bloomberg reported that McDonalds is accused of firing a worker at one of its restaurants in Chicago in retaliation for joining a lawsuit that claimed the Company failed to protect employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Subway said that its franchisees will hire 50,000 workers across North America. The chain also plans to revive its $5 footlong promotion to bring back customers.
  • Following an incident in Ohio where an employee was told to remove his Black Lives Matter mask, Taco Bell issued a statement saying it was “disappointed” about what happened and is working to clarify its mask policy.

June 18, 2020

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill has expanded the functionality of its digital ordering platforms by adding the option to order through Facebook Messenger, as well as giving consumers the ability to make group orders and donations.
  • McDonald’s has promoted Shammara Howell to the role of vice president and global chief talent officer.
  • Panera Bread has been quietly making changes to its management team in the areas of procurement and product development, human resources and digital technology. Most recently was this month’s appointment of research & development veteran, Claes Petersson, as the chief food innovation officer at the chain of more than 2,100 locations.
  • The American Chinese restaurant, Panda Express, is cutting out the middleman in deliveries (Uber Eats and Postmates) so its guests will not incur additional fees typically found on third-party apps, with the launch of its new delivery service.

June 17, 2020

  • Chili’s has started reopening units across the nation, finding that its demographics have skewed towards young individuals ordering drinks instead of families dining.
  • Denny’s Corp. is reporting that same-store sales are down 40%.

June 16, 2020

  • McDonald’s reported global same-store sales plunged 29.8% quarter-to-date as of May 31. However, same-store sales are sequentially improving from April to May, and U.S. same-store sales fell only 5.1% in May.
  • A Wendy’s in Atlanta was torched over the weekend in an ongoing national movement for social justice after police shot and killed a black man in the drive-thru lane on Friday.
  • Panda Express announced its plans to hire 30,000 people nationwide as it prepares to reopen dining rooms for carryout starting June 16. The company also launched its own delivery service Monday, a program planned to launch 12 months from now but was accelerated given the ongoing pandemic.
  • Companies including Sweetgreen, El Pollo Loco, Fatburger, Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar and more announced they have been opening and/or developing new units as states across the nation reopen.

June 15, 2020

  • Burger King is launching a breakfast sandwich made with meat-free Impossible Sausage to its menu nationwide. The menu addition comes as fast-food chains report lower breakfast sales due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • BJ’s Restaurants Inc. expects 208 BJ’s locations will be operating by the end of the week, with dining rooms open at more than 85% of the chain’s system.

June 12, 2020

  • Starbucks is closing up to 400 stores across the US, as the coffee giant adopts new strategies amid the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the chain is also planning to open fewer stores this year, cutting its expectations of openings to 300 from 600.
  • Dunkin’ is hiring 25,000 people across America. The hiring spree comes as restaurants reopen, with roughly 90% of Dunkin’ locations in the US currently open.
  • Smoothie King announced Thursday (June 11) it has successfully donated over $1,000,000 in smoothies to essential workers and workplaces across the country.
  • Yum Brands, which invested $200 million in Grubhub in 2018 to help expand its U.S. delivery network, is suing the third-party delivery company for breaching the parties’ five-year food delivery contract by “unilaterally imposing a new pricing structure” to the company’s franchisees without warning.

June 11, 2020

  • Food delivery service Grubhub will be merging with European company Just Eat Takeaway after initial talks with Uber fell through.
  • Pizza Hut saw record numbers in the month of May for takeout and delivery orders.
  • Taco Bell has seen a dip in same-store sales after losing breakfast and late-night customers.

June 10, 2020

  • Brinker International Inc., parent to the Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy brands, has reopened about 82% of its domestic restaurants to dine-in customers as coronavirus restrictions ease, the company said Tuesday.
  • Starbucks announced it will be closing, renovating or moving 400 traditional cafes in the U.S. and Canada in the next 18 months and opening more to-go locations – with the goal of opening 40 to 50 pickup-only stores. The company also reported it expects to swing to a loss in its fiscal third quarter, predicting a loss of as much as $3.2 billion in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Chuck E. Cheese parent, CEC Entertainment, is seeking a $200 million loan to avoid bankruptcy.

June 9, 2020

  • Dunkin’ is looking to hire up to 25,000 employees as it prepares for higher demand with states continuing to open up from lockdown. The coffee chain launched its first advertising campaign focused on hiring and introduced a partnership with Southern New Hampshire University to offer low-cost college degrees for franchisees and their workers.
  • Wendy’s said in a statement Monday that its beef supply has returned to near-normal levels across the Wendy’s system.

June 8, 2020

  • The National Owners Association, a McDonald’s franchisee advocacy group formed in late 2018, expressed their support for serving a limited menu as stores reopen. McDonald’s put all-day breakfast on hold as part of a plan to trim the menu during the pandemic. NOA says the limited menu has made service times faster.
  • After consistent improvement in the past two months, Potbelly same-store sales are declining in the mid-20 percent range after seeing a nearly 70 percent drop in March.
  • As protests continues across the country, brands including McDonald’s, Starbucks and Chick-fil-A release supportive statements, donate money and more.

June 5, 2020

  • In-N-Out filed a lawsuit against its insurer, Zurich American Insurance Co. over an alleged breach of contract after its COVID-19 claims were denied.

June 4, 2020

  • Cheesecake Factory Inc. has reopened a quarter of its restaurants as of June 2 and expect 65% of restaurants to reopen dining rooms by mid-June.
  • Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins’ sales are improving in the United States, according to parent company Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. The company said Dunkin’ sales improved for the first three weeks in May, with same-store sales only down by 15% compared to the same week last year – an improvement over the 25% decline reported for the week ended April 25.
  • Luby’s Inc., parent to the Luby’s Cafeteria and Fuddruckers brands, is seeking to sell its real estate assets and wind down its operating divisions and will distribute net proceeds to shareholders if it can’t be sold in its entirety.
  • Checkers and Rally‘s spoke with Bloomberg regarding how their drive-through model is keeping franchises going through the pandemic. While the company saw revenue drop 20% at the start of the pandemic, those numbers have recently rebounded back and gone another 20% higher.

June 3, 2020

  • As Cracker Barrel restaurants reopen dining rooms, the company plans to accelerate programs it began to test prior to the pandemic, including rolling out a new menu and experimenting with a wine and beer program.
  • As Starbucks attempts reopens stores that were shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic, employees are faced with the choice to quit, take a leave of absence, or continue working for the coffee giant — understanding that they may face reduced hours, due to stores’ shortened hours and modified operations.

June 2, 2020

  • Casual-dining chain, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers has reopened 158 company-operated dining rooms and is taking a number of steps, including paying partial rent for its headquarters, to reduce its cash burn rate during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Texas Restaurant Association is expanding its TX Restaurant Relief Fund, originally tasked with raising money to help operators cope with coronavirus pandemic issues, to include independent restaurants damaged by vandalism connected to this past weekend’s riots.

June 1, 2020

  • Dickey’s has announced that they will be extending their free delivery through the end of June.
  • IHOP, Pizza Hut and Subway are among the restaurant brands whose franchisees have begun filing for bankruptcy, citing “hemorrhaging sales” – McDonald’s has also warned its franchisees about the reality that they may need to declare bankruptcy or downsize if sales do not improve.

May 29, 2020

  • Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen trended up more than 40% in the third full week of May as compared to last year, as reported by parent Restaurant Brands International Inc.
  • DoorDash is launching DoorDash Storefront, an e-commerce platform for direct delivery and pickup. The platform allows restaurants to retain valuable customer data as orders will be made directly through a restaurant’s website, and is launching in July.
  • Le Pain Quotidien won a bankruptcy judge’s approval to get out of leases for 59 restaurants shut down in the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic
  • Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is now offering new catering options for guests, including an expanded variety of boxed meals that come packaged individually, along with new item labels for accuracy and individualized sauce options.
  • Presto, the restaurant industry’s leading enterprise technology platform, announced the launch of a free Contactless Dining Kit for every restaurant, allowing guests to use their mobile devices to scan NFC tags and QR codes at restaurants to view menus, place orders, and pay with their phone at the table. In addition, guests can check in online using their smartphone, view wait time estimates in real time, and get an alert when their table is ready.

May 28, 2020

  • Papa John’s estimated same-store sales in May increased by 33.5% in North America and 7% globally.

May 27, 2020

  • The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has led a Denny’s franchisee in New York to close 15 restaurants in the central and Finger Lakes areas of the state.
  • Dozens of TGI Friday’s restaurants won’t reopen as the chain struggles to recover from a drastic sales decline due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As many as 20% of the company’s 386 U.S. locations will likely have to close permanently.

May 21, 2020

  • McDonald’s Corp. has earmarked about $40 million in aid for restaurant owners that are in crisis following the Covid-19 lockdown. Temporary assistance will be available on a case-by-case basis, and franchisees are expected to work with the parent company to find a suitable financial solution. The Company has warned that some distressed franchisees may need to downsize or sell off locations.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar delivered a letter to the country’s top antitrust officials – Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons – urging scrutiny of Uber’s potential acquisition of Grubhub in an effort to keep powerful players from taking even more market share.
  • Noodles & Company has been engaging consumers during COVID-19 through its loyalty program, which is seeing about a 40% growth in daily sign-ups.

May 20, 2020

  • Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill has been selling wings on Grubhub under the brand name Neighborhood Wings.
  • Subway has laid off about 150 of its workforce, including more than 100 at its corporate headquarters.
  • In honor of National Police Week, Dunkin’ of SoCal continues to support our local hard-working heroes on the frontline who are working harder than ever to keep our communities safe by donating an array of coffee and donuts to local officers throughout California.
  • Fast Casual chain Just Salad partnered with American fashion designer Kenneth Cole to design and create reusable masks for staff.
  • The create-you-own salad concept, Saladworks is partnering with Reef Technology to create mobile ecosystems and now has its footprint in 17 Reef hubs throughout 10 U.S. cities.

May 19, 2020

  • Focus Brands CEO Jim Houlthouser reiterated his confidence in his company’s brands to pivot in order to stay afloat during the pandemic, but also claims to believe that the restaurant industry will forever be changed
  • Panera introduced a new contactless curbside pickup system that sends the store it was ordered from a notification when customers have arrived.

May 18, 2020

  • McDonald’s is beginning to allow franchisees to reopen stores, as well as offering additional financial support for marketing.
  • Wingstop announced it has adopted an internal phase called First In, Last Out, stating they will be one of the last restaurants to open their dining rooms across America.

May 15, 2020

  • Starbucks has made payments in full to landlords during the COVID-19 crisis. But as stores begin to reopen with modified operations to maintain physical distancing, the Company asked property owners for rent relief for at least 12 consecutive months starting June 1.
  • Denny’s Corp. has about 82% of its domestic restaurants operating, most with takeout and delivery, streamlined menus and reduced operating hours at this point.
  • Jack in the Box reported a same-store sales decrease of 4.2% for the second quarter, driven by a decrease in transactions of 10.5% and offset by an average check growth of 6.4% as more families order meal kits and bundles. The Company is seeing improvements with an 8% positive same-store sales trend during the first three weeks of Q3.
  • In federal filings, The Cheesecake Factory Inc. noted it anticipates its large capacity dining rooms to be an advantage as restaurants reopen for dine-in service as its flexible seating layouts will enable ample social distancing while maintaining sufficient seating capacity to generate meaningful sales volumes.
  • PepsiCo has launched PantryShop.com and Snacks.com, two direct-to-consumer websites where shoppers can order an assortment of PepsiCo’s food and beverage brands.

May 14, 2020

  • For McDonald’s, the restaurant implemented extensive safety measures, which includes mandatory masks for employees, limiting the number of customers in lobby areas, wider use of disposable menus and more emphasis on outdoor dining.
  • At three Smokey Bones restaurants in Georgia, both servers and kitchen line workers now wear face masks. Tables are spaced at least six feet apart, and only 10 guests per 500-square-feet of space are permitted at one time in each restaurant.
  • Applebee’s in Tennessee all restaurant workers wear masks and gloves. Guests were directed in the parking lot to avoid congregating, and the chain planned to allow customers to order and pay on their own mobile devices.
  • In Texas, Chili’s employees are checked for fever and quizzed about possible exposure to coronavirus before shifts.
  • As Pie Five Pizza begins opening dining rooms nationwide, it has instituted a series of new practices to keep customers safe inside restaurants, which includes employee masks and gloves, handwashing at 30-minute intervals, hand sanitizing stations and more.

May 13, 2020

  • Burger King, Popeye’s and McDonald’s are some of the first major fast food brands to announce plans to reopen restaurants for sit-down dining.
  • Biglari Holdings Inc. announced that COVID-19 led to the permanent closures of 57 Steak ‘n Shake restaurant units in Q1.
  • Firehouse Subs recently introduced the ‘Family Meal Deal,’ with a portion of all proceeds from the promotion going towards the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.
  • Pie Five has also announced restaurant reopenings with a number of new health-focused practices in place on top of federal regulations.
  • Potbelly is in discussions to close up to 100 of its stores due to plummeting same-store sales.
  • Restaurant Brands, parent company of Burger King, is currently considering adding facemasks as a permanent addition to the employee uniform.
  • Uber is reportedly in talks to purchase Grubhub after witnessing the importance and relative dominance of food delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Shake Shack has tapped creative agency Circus Maximus to develop the ‘Stay at Home’ social media series.

May 12, 2020

  • Buffalo Wild Wings announced it is opening its first “GO” model on Wednesday in Georgia, focusing on takeout and delivery orders that will feature a walk-up counter, digital menu boards, condensed seating and televisions for guests to enjoy while waiting for their orders.
  • The One Group Hospitality, parent company to STK and Kona Grill, has reopened 11 restaurant dining rooms following social distancing and other guidelines, with another five to return to dine-in service on Monday, and an additional five to 10 over the next two weeks.
  • FAT Brands concepts Fatburger, Buffalo’s Express and Hurricane Grill & Wings has partnered with ghost kitchen, Epic Kitchens, in Chicago.
  • Raising Cane’s has distributed $2 million to crew members systemwide to show its appreciation for its team’s work and sacrifice during the pandemic.
  • Lunchbox, a digital ordering platform, has launched a non-profit website called Help Main Street to help local business owners provide delivery service without using third-party delivery companies.
  • In an email to exhibitors on May 8, NACS said it is moving forward with plans to hold its annual event from Oct. 11-14 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

May 11, 2020

  • Bloomin Brands announced that pickup orders tripled during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers quarantined at home.
  • Ruth’s Hospitality Group is reopening steakhouse dining rooms this month at 12 of its 86 company operated restaurants in Texas, Florida and Tennessee. Workers will wear masks, a standard requirement in most states that are reopening and dinner and wine menus will be available via QR codes sent to the personal devices of guests.
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill announced in a letter sent to customers it is in no rush to reopen dining rooms even though restrictions are being lifted in some areas across the country and it is extending bonus pay for restaurant workers. The letter also noted that the Company has committed to increasing its local sourcing and providing long term contracts so its partners can sustain their farming practices.
  • QDOBA is offering free delivery (on any order $15 or more) for orders placed on the QDOBA app and QDOBA.com through Thursday, May 14, 2020.

May 8, 2020

  • Chick-fil-a announced that it will begin to reopen a number of restaurants for carryout.
  • Chipotle announced that it would be awarding $250,000 in grants to young farmers in order to support them through the COVID-19 situation.
  • Grubhub continues to see improved sales as more and more customers rely on delivery.
  • Jamba announced a ‘Whirl’d of Good’ BOGO program to support healthcare workers.
  • Papa John’s CEO stated that April was one of the best months in the history of the restaurant.
  • Noodles & Company announced that it would be taking “cues” from customers in order to gauge when to begin reopening restaurants.
  • Saladworks has announced that it has donated 1,145 meals to healthcare workers to date.
  • Wingstop has cited a delivery promotion for a large spike in April same-store sales.

May 7, 2020

  • GrubHub pulled its 2020 guidance and is now aiming to generate $5 million in adjusted earnings abandoning a commitment to generate $100 million in adjusted earnings this year. The company also announced it plans to reinvest profits into helping the restaurant industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, not by waiving or reducing commission fees, but instead through diner promotions, reduced or eliminated diner delivery fees, etc.
  • McDonald’s plans to distribute more than 100 million non-medical grade masks to the company’s nearly 14,000 restaurants across the U.S.
  • Taco Bell is giving away free Doritos Locos Tacos on Tuesday despite push back from employees who say the deal could increase their risk of being exposed to the coronavirus as it brings in significantly more customers.
  • Chick-fil-A announced a partnership with Uber Eats to expand off-premises options for consumers.

May 6, 2020

  • Starbucks announced it will reopen 85% of company stores this week. The coffee chain is also enabling new app features that allow for easier contactless delivery, pickup, and entryway handoff.
  • Wendy’s has temporarily removed beef from some of its menus, and other large burger chains are eyeing their own protein supply chains with caution amid production interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, Wendy’s U.S. same-stores sales fell only 2.1% last week after plunging in March and the first two weeks of April.
  • Shake Shack is preparing to reopen dining rooms with some restaurants, dubbed “Shack Track” stores, being modified to add in drive-thru lanes and walk-up windows to accommodate social distancing requirements.
  • Bloomin’ Brands, parent to Outback Steakhouse and other casual-dining brands, announced it has reopened 336 dine-in units as of yesterday as state and local coronavirus restrictions are eased.
  • Qdoba has reported the company has been gaining customers, according to YouGov BrandIndex data. The data concludes Americans are more likely to purchase from the Mexican restaurant chain than they were at the end of March.
  • GPS Hospitality, a fast-growing Burger King, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Pizza Hut franchisee, is actively recruiting new full and part time team members with the goal of securing 1,500 new hires.
  • Del Taco announced its same-store sales trends are improving in April, with the quick-service brand logging record redemptions on app promotions as consumers seek value and contactless ordering during the pandemic.

May 5, 2020

  • OpenTable has introduced a new “Open Door” pricing program for both new and existing restaurants. The program features no subscription fees through the end of the year; no cover fees through Sept. 30, 2020; and up to 50% off on cover fees in the fourth quarter of 2020.
  • Resy is waiving fees for new and existing restaurants through the end of the year and has adapted its platform for a new normal of dining that will force restaurants to manage limited capacity floor plans.
  • Church’s Chicken is giving away four free Hand-held Chicken Pot Pies to all family meal purchases at company owned restaurants.
  • Ike’s Love & Sandwiches is donating meals to hospitals across several states in honor of National Nurses Week.
  • Juice It Up! has brought back two antioxidant powerhouses, the Superfruit Sunrise® Smoothie and the Mighty-C Immunity Shot.

May 4, 2020

  • Subway restaurants is teaming up with Postmates to give guests the power to make a difference and help feed healthcare workers fighting on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak.Now through May 10, Subway will donate a 6-inch sub to healthcare workers in the U.S. for every Subway order purchased through
  • A coalition of leading plant-based restaurants and movement leaders around the country including Veggie Grill, Native Foods, HipCityVeg, Plant Power Fast Food, Next Level Burger, Happy Cow, Eat for the Planet, 80/20 Plants and more are banding together to throw a Plant-Based Party for the Planet that provides food for those in need during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Tijuana Flats announced its “Cinco de Quarantine-O” promotion in celebration of Cinco de Mayo.
  • Pieology is offering pizza care packs for National Teachers and Nurses Week.
  • Einstein Bros. Bagels is encouraging guests to give a well-deserved “thank you” to the parent in their family who deserves an A+ for effort when it comes to homeschooling duties.

May 1, 2020

  • El Pollo Loco saw delivery and online orders triple during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • KFC announced plans for a virtual Mother’s Day experience for those unable to visit their parents due to COVID-19.
  • McDonald’s saw a 17% drop in earnings, caused by plunging sails due to coronavirus-related restaurant closures; they also released a forward-looking recovery plan.
  • Raising Cane’s announced plans to sell ‘Neck-gaiters’ in order to raise money for healthcare workers.
  • Sweetgreen launched “Plates” for dinner as a new pivot due to COVID-19.
  • Taco Bell will be delivering at-home taco bars in order to help customers celebrate Cinco de Mayo without leaving the house.
  • Wahlburgers announced it would be teaming up with Crescent Capital to feed healthcare workers in the coming weeks.

April 30, 2020

  • Dunkin’ announced the introduction of $2 Iced Mondays and extension of Free Donut Fridays for DD Perks members this May to lift people’s spirits amid these unprecedented times.
  • BIBIBOP Asian Grill announced that it will open 25 locations in Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri for take-out and delivery orders. On May 18, 10 stores in California, Maryland, and Washington D.C. will also open for limited business.
  • KFC announced Wednesday it will provide $500,000 worth of groceries to team members across its more than 4,000 U.S. restaurants to celebrate its workforce who are continuing to keep America fed amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 29, 2020

  • Dunkin’ is offering free coffee and donuts to healthcare workers in honor of National Nurses Day next week, along with a $200,000 grant to support healthcare workers experiencing trauma.
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill has launched a new line of Lifestyle Bowls for anyone looking to break their current unhealthy pandemic diet. The five bowls are inspired by wellness experts and available for a limited time through Chipotle’s digital ordering channels.
  • Waffle House began offering limited dine-in capacity at 330 of its restaurants in Georgia and approx. 70 in Tennessee on Monday.
  • Cold Stone Creamery has launched an exclusive Give Back eGift card campaign that will support people and communities during this time of crisis. With every Give Back eGift card purchased online, Cold Stone will donate 10 percent of the amount to Bethenny Frankel’s initiative bstrong.
  • Cholula is hosting a virtual #TacoTuesday May 5 to raise funds for restaurants. The company has pledged $100,000 to the independent restaurant coalition during the online telethon and is donating an additional $1 for every viewer that joins.
  • Just Salad announced a collaboration with New York City Chef Joey Campanaro to launch The Big Apple Salad. Proceeds will benefit Relief Opportunities for all Restaurants (ROAR NY), which provides direct cash assistance to individual restaurant workers who face an immediate need for financial aid following the COVID19 outbreak.
  • Luna Grill launched its second giving program, “Feeding the Frontline,” dedicated to feeding 20,000 local hospital workers over the coming weeks. Combined with the company’s on-going “The Good Card” program, Luna Grill is providing a combined 50,000 meals countywide.

April 28, 2020

  • McDonalds same-store sales have decreased an estimated 20% to 25% in the second week of April according to projections from Kalinowski Equity Research. That compares with a projected decline of 25% to 30% in the first week of April.
  • Popeyes Detroit franchisee, John Broderson, is adding the $5/hour “essential worker bonus pay” for current and new hourly employees at the 20 restaurant locations in the metropolitan area during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Curry Up Now has launched its “Roll it Forward” campaign which invites guests to purchase $12 Donation Meals that Curry Up Now will match meal-for-meal. The campaign is an effort to show gratitude for healthcare workers across the country and help those whose lives and jobs have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Zaxby’s has uploaded a collection of ambient restaurant sounds to SoundCloud, to bring Zaxby’s particular dine-in experience to brand fans with sounds unique to the restaurant.
  • Sweetcatch Poke has introduced meal kit delivery to bring their signature authentic flavors to easy-to-make dishes that are ready in 10 minutes or less. The kits can be ordered on the Sweetcatch Poke website by selecting an option and a delivery date.

April 27, 2020

  • Smokey Bones, a 61-unit full-service barbecue chain, is planning to open restaurants in Georgia the week of April 27 and in eight other states by May 2.
  • Chick-fil-A announced it is taking “additional time” to reopen its dining rooms in states that are starting to ease business restrictions.
  • BJ’s Restaurant mentioned it is ready to reopen dining rooms once jurisdictions give the casual dining chain the green light, which could happen soon as some states ease dine-in restrictions as early as today, April 27.
  • Qdoba launched the Everyday Heroes Campaign, which encourages its guests to honor the everyday heroes in their lives by commenting on the brand’s Instagram account and sharing the person or group, the reason and location of their nominee(s). QDOBA will be providing burritos to 10,000 heroes in hopes of adding some flavor to each hero’s day and recognizing their contributions during this tough time.
  • Panera launched #SeeAPlateFillAPlate campaign to inspire Americans to donate and fill a plate for someone in need.

April 24, 2020

  • Starbucks announced they are preparing to reopen stores in the U.S. Store openings will be carefully selected, and some Starbucks stores may allow for contactless pickup, while others will allow for to-go ordering even as dining rooms remain closed.
  • Jersey Mike’s announced they are donating 20 percent of their sales to Feeding America this weekend.
  • Dickey’s franchisees announced their aim to pay it forward. One franchisee donated 6,000 pulled pork sandwiches to his local first responders after he partnered with local businesses looking ways to give back; one partnered to feed frontline responders in their area to show appreciation to the Gulf Coast regional medical staff and some partnered to give over 100,000 free pulled pork sandwiches to hundreds of local essential businesses, such as pharmacies, independent doctors’ offices and grocery chains, like Costco and Kroger.

April 23, 2020

  • Domino’s Pizza saw a 7.1% boost in same-store sales so far in the second quarter.
  • 7-Eleven just launched a new app that will deliver products directly to consumers.
  • Church’s Chicken launched an essential workers appreciation campaign in response to COVID-19.
  • Smoothie King announced that it will be donating $1 million worth of smoothies to local hospitals, testing facilities, and more.
  • Tijuana Flats launched a ‘Restaurant Partners Helping Heroes’ program that will raise funds to provide food to front-line emergency workers.

April 22, 2020

  • Uber Eats customers have given $3 million in direct contributions to restaurants using a new feature on the app designed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill has reported a 3.3% increase in same-store sales in a quarter that saw the chain reach record digital sales of $372 million.
  • McDonald’s introduced the “Thank You Meal,” a free meal for healthcare workers, as well as first responders such as police officers, firefighters and paramedics. Additionally, Vicki Chancellor, chair of McDonald’s Operator’s National Advertising Committee, says that franchisees in states that are reopening won’t reopen dining rooms without having a “coordinated dialogue” with the McDonald’s franchisor.
  • Popeyes is launching a “NOLA STRONG MEAL,” an offer with all proceeds going to one of the most affected areas in the United States from COVID-19 where they will provide over 1,000,000 meals to families in need.
  • Papa Murphy’s has announced that it will donate $1 for every Cheese or Pepperoni Mini Murph Make ’n’ Bake Pizza Kit sold online to the No Kid Hungry organization.
  • RAVE Restaurant Group, Inc., the parent company for Pizza Inn and Pie Five Pizza, has launched “Feed Essential Workers” programs at both brands to donate meals to healthcare, grocery, fire department and police department staff. Now through May, Pie Five Pizza and Pizza Inn guests can pay it forward and purchase a meal for the frontlines for $5 or $10 while placing a call-in order or ordering online. 100% of all funds will go directly towards feeding local essential workers and those in need.
  • Wendy’s has extended its GroupNug program to all of America, offering a free 4-pc Chicken Nuggets (crispy or spicy) to every car that rolls through the drive-thru—no purchase necessary.

April 21, 2020

  • The Starbucks Foundation is donating more than $3 million to support community response efforts globally.
  • Chipotle announced Monday it is launching a special buy one, give one program to support healthcare heroes across the U.S. From April 21 – April 26, Chipotle will donate a burrito to medical professionals every time a Chipotle digital customer names their burrito order “4HEROES” on the Chipotle app or Chipotle.com. Healthcare workers will be able to sign up for a chance to receive their free burritos starting on Nurses Day, May 6.
  • Chick-fil-A announced a relief effort dedicated to helping local franchisees continue their support of those impacted by COVID-19 in the communities they serve. The effort is anchored by a $10.8M fund that Chick-fil-A, Inc. will distribute to local communities through its network of more than 1,800 independent Owner-Operators starting in June. Funds are hoped to have an immediate impact on the needs of local communities, including food donations or items to first responders, health care workers, Chick-fil-A Team Members and their families.
  • Sweetgreen, in partnership with Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen, has launched the Sweetgreen Impact Outpost Fund, an initiative to feed front-line medical personnel working in hospitals, delivering bowls and salads for free to designated drop-off points.
  • Cousins Subs, Summerfest, and Disrupt Idea Co. announced a new initiative to feed frontline healthcare workers at Aurora Health Care. From April 20-26, 2020, the public is encouraged to make a donation to provide subs for frontline healthcare workers, with every dollar raised being used to purchase discounted subs from Cousins Subs through its Make It Better Foundation to team members on the front lines of the COVID-19 health crisis.
  • Chick N Max is now offering every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 4pm-6pm, 50 free meals to restaurant & bar workers affected by COVID-19 layoffs. To receive their free meal, workers will need to sign up online for a designated time slot.

April 20, 2020

  • Ruth’s Hospitality Group qualified for $20 million under a provision that allowed it to seek loans for each of two subsidiaries. The company sought the forgivable $20 million loan to ensure it “is well positioned to emerge from this situation a strong and viable entity.”
  • Shake Shack received the maximum $10 million under the $349 billion lending package for small business owners and since announced it is returning the money.
  • Potbelly received the maximum $10 million under the $349 billion lending package for small business owners.

April 17, 2020

  • Chipotle will begin giving out bottles of Tabasco hot sauce with digital orders in order to encourage consumers to order from home.
  • Jack in the Box will be celebrating “Customer Appreciation Week” by offering new promotions daily on their mobile app.
  • Pizza Hut has expanded its contactless ordering options by offering nationwide curbside pickup.
    Raising Canes has launched a campaign in which they will stream concerts and musical performances through the end of April.
  • Saladworks announced a campaign in which customers can donate money towards giving free meals to healthcare workers.
  • Starbucks has begun preparations to begin reopening cafes as local coronavirus conditions will allow.

April 16, 2020

  • Black Box Intelligence has announced same-restaurant metric improvements of 4.7% in week ended April 5.
  • The White House has created a restaurant-beverage industry panel to advise on coronavirus recovery and appointed two dozen restaurant and beverage executives to serve.
  • WhutsFree, the app that brings free deals with no purchase necessary to consumers, announced that it will expand its advertising platform nationwide and make all of its hyperlocal advertising services free to restaurants and other retailers and small businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19.
  • Golden Rule Charity, a national organization uniquely focused on delivering resources to qualified hospitality companies and employees in times of need, is launching a bold new fundraising effort to support the nonprofit’s grant program, which awards applicants who currently work full or part time and have been employed in the industry a minimum of 6 months and meet additional criteria.

April 15, 2020

  • Panera has launched the Panera Family Feast, an affordable way to get some of its most popular menu items on the table. The bundle starts at $29 and customers can order via the Panera app or website and receive the food through contactless delivery, Rapid Pick-Up and drive-thru.
  • Pizza Hut announced the Read & Feed Program, where they will donate 250,000 Personal Pan Pizzas and make $500,000 in grants to educators through its nonprofit partner, First Book, to meet the urgent needs of those who rely on school for food and educational resources.
  • Domino’s announced it will offer franchisees seamless data transfer, faster payment options and financial wellness tools for employees through an integration agreement with Branch, the only challenger bank that partners with employers to help working Americans grow financially, and Servant Systems, the software developer for the Domino’s PULSE Franchise Office System. With Branch, Domino’s franchise owners can instantly pay employees wages, tips, and mileage onto the Branch digital wallet and debit card, without requiring pre-funding, cash reserves, or changes to payroll.
  • &pizza and Citi announced they’re joining together to launch &pizza’s Hero Kitchens powered by Citi, part of &pizza’s Hero Pie Program, to thank the doctors, nurses, administrators, cleaning staff, and everyone working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Nathan’s Famous is getting into the meal kit business while working with host kitchen platform, Franklin Junction. Jericho, The company will launch six meal kits via several hundred host kitchens this spring
  • Modern Market Eatery is now offering grocery items to guests at a competitive price, including produce and proteins, grocery boxes, a la carte grocery and prepared food items for online ordering to all of its currently open markets in Texas, Arizona and Colorado.
  • Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe has launched Taziki’s Market, which will carry an array of grocery items for guests to order online at tazikis.com and through the Taziki’s app. Taziki’s Market includes produce, meats, dairy/breads/dry goods, deli sides/dressings and beverages. These items are available for delivery or pick-up beginning in Nashville, Richmond, Atlanta, Denver, and Memphis, with other locations being rolled out in the following months.
  • QuikTrip has launched an ‘on-lot pickup’ service, where consumers can order items through the company app and have them delivered to their car upon arrival.

April 14, 2020

  • GrubHub pulled its 2020 guidance and is now aiming to generate $5 million in adjusted earnings abandoning a commitment to generate $100 million in adjusted earnings this year. The company also announced it plans to reinvest profits into helping the restaurant industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, not by waiving or reducing commission fees, but instead through diner promotions, reduced or eliminated diner delivery fees, etc.
  • McDonald’s plans to distribute more than 100 million non-medical grade masks to the company’s nearly 14,000 restaurants across the U.S.
  • Taco Bell is giving away free Doritos Locos Tacos on Tuesday despite push back from employees who say the deal could increase their risk of being exposed to the coronavirus as it brings in significantly more customers.
  • Chick-fil-A announced a partnership with Uber Eats to expand off-premises options for consumers.

April 13, 2020

  • Tyson Food Service announced it is joining forces with #TheGreatAmericanTakeout movement with a $25,000 commitment to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF) and a matching program for any Tyson employees who donate personally to the organization.
  • Taco Bell rolled out seven enhanced seven steps throughout its U.S. restaurants “to improve upon restaurant health and safety amid the pandemic.”
  • Starbucks was preparing for the Coronavirus as early as February of this year.
  • Doordash announced it would cut by 50% commission fees for independent restaurants, a move that will save local mom-and-pop restaurants thousands of dollars over the next several weeks.nounced that they would begin selling groceries as in-store sales continue to slip.

April 10, 2020

  • Panera Bread announced that they would begin selling groceries as in-store sales continue to slip.
  • Starbucks donated $10 million in grants to employees in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Jack in the Box launched a new line of family meal bundles.
  • Noodles & Company announced plans to give back to healthcare workers with family meals.
  • Steak ‘n Shake announced a “We’re All Essential” plan which aims to give free French fries to all customers.
  • White Castle announced that it would be providing free meals to healthcare workers.

April 9, 2020

  • Panera Bread announced that they would begin selling groceries as in-store sales continue to slip.
  • Starbucks donated $10 million in grants to employees in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Jack in the Box launched a new line of family meal bundles.
  • Noodles & Company announced plans to give back to healthcare workers with family meals.
  • Steak ‘n Shake announced a “We’re All Essential” plan which aims to give free French fries to all customers.
  • White Castle announced that it would be providing free meals to healthcare workers.

April 8, 2020

  • Denny’s Corp. has reported that its quarterly same store sales fell 6%.
  • BJ’s has announced that it will lay off 16,000 hourly workers but will keep all 209 locations open.
  • Darden Restaurants has announced that it will furlough 20% of corporate staff and 150,000 hourly restaurant workers.
  • Grecian Delight has donated 25,000 lbs. of food to the Salvation Army.
  • Olive Garden has reported that its same store sales have dropped 59.7%.
  • Inspire Brands, the parent company of Buffalo Wild Wings and Arby’s, has formed a $1 million COVID-19 relief fund to assist industry aid efforts and combat childhood hunger.
  • Toast has cut 50% of staff as coronavirus forces restaurants to close.

April 7, 2020

  • Chick-fil-A announced the company is installing handwashing stations at all drive-thru and mall locations by April 11.
  • TGI Fridays’ has cancelled its plans to go public, with Allegro Merger Corp. citing the termination is due to ‘extraordinary market conditions’.
  • Shift4 Payments and Tyson Foodservice will donate to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund based on social media posts supporting #TheGreatAmericanTakeout. For every social post tagged Tuesday with #TheGreatAmericanTakeout, Tyson
  • Foodservice will make a $5 donation up to $25,000, and Shift4 Payments will make a $1 donation up to $10,000 to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.
  • Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has donated 100,000 Sandwiches to first responders and grocery store employees serving on the front line in Arizona, according to a company press release.
  • Firehouse Subs restaurant owners across the country have partnered with Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation to donate more than 9,000 subs to firefighters, police officers and health care workers, as well as individuals and families in need and seniors who are unable to leave their homes.
  • Potbelly Sandwich Shop is launching Potbelly Pantry – allowing fans to stock up on their favorite Potbelly staples, like its famous hot peppers, fresh hand-sliced meats, cheeses, breads and even pre-portioned A Wreck and Italian sandwich ingredients.
  • Taco Bell announced following its free Doritos Locos Tacos offer in March, it’s continuing to lift fans’ spirits and will give everyone in America a free Doritos Locos Tacos today, April 7.

April 6, 2020

  • McDonalds announced that it will donate 1 million N-95 masks – including 750,000 for the city of Chicago and 250,000 to the state of Illinois – to healthcare professionals and first responders.
  • Domino’s announced that its U.S. company-owned and franchised restaurants will donate roughly 10 million slices of pizza within their local communities, starting this week.

April 3, 2020

  • Chipotle is working on a gift card program that would allow roughly 10% of proceeds go towards supporting healthcare workers.
  • Dave & Buster’s announced that they might be delaying their SEC filing as all of their 137 venues have shut down due to COVID-19.
  • Dunkin’ announced that it would be extending its offer of free donuts on Fridays through the end of April.
  • Focus Brands, parent company of brands including Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s, announced layoffs of 136 workers.
  • Grubhub announced that it would be donating $30 million in order to support independent restaurants.
  • McDonald’s announced that as a precautionary measure, they will screen employs for health issues prior to starting their shifts.
  • Shake Shack has experienced a 29% plunge in same-store sales as well as a 20% cut in corporate staff since the start of the outbreak.
  • Starbucks made a $3 million donation towards COVID-19 relief efforts.
  • Uber Eats is updating their app to allow users to donate directly to the restaurants that they are ordering from.
  • Wendy’s announced that it would be giving a 10% bonus to employees at its corporate stores.
  • International Dairy Deli Bakery Association announced that it will cancel its annual trade show.
  • Cumberland Farms is offering free coffee to healthcare workers.
  • 7-Eleven has provided all stores and franchisees with a supply of masks for use as they serve customers, and donated all remaining inventory to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • DoorDash will start delivering convenience store goods.

April 2, 2020

  • CraftWorks fired nearly all of its 18,000 employees.
  • Grubhub offers “free exposure’ to restaurants struggling to survive COVID-19 closures but it comes with a 3% rate increase to take effect at the end of the month.
  • Just Salad has partnered with Mount Sinai to deliver 10,000 meals a week to seven hospitals across New York.
  • Moe’s is selling bulk food from their restaurant through “Moe’s Market.”
  • Gauthier Murphy & Houghtaling LLC, a New Orleans-based law firm, has teamed up with celebrity chefs and restaurant industry groups to form the Business Interruption Group, with the purpose of demanding immediate payment for restaurants that have business interruption insurance and don’t have exclusions for viruses.
  • Pump N Pantry is closing some stores and making others fuel-only.
  • Enmarket increases hourly wages and installs plexiglass.

April 1, 2020

  • Chipotle is giving healthcare facilities with free burrito boxes to celebrate April 2’s National Burrito Day. Registration is open through April 2 for workers to register their office/hospital division to receive up to 50 free burritos. The company will give away a total of up to 50,000 burritos from April 6-10. The company will also continue offering free delivery on any order $10+ via the Chipotle app and Chipotle.com through April 30.
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken is sending 1 million pieces of chicken to its more than 4,000 locations nationwide to help those restaurants feed those in need during the pandemic
  • Subway locations in Iowa, Illinois and Utah partnered with West Liberty Foods to feed each of its team members one Subway meal a week in recognition of their continued service and commitment during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic. The company will provide over 11,000 Subway meals over the span of this four-week initiative.
  • El Pollo Loco announced Tuesday an extended commitment to free delivery in partnership with Postmates.
  • 7-Eleven donated 1 million masks amid the COVID-19 shortage.

March 31, 2020

  • Restaurant Brands International is sending about $70 million in cash advances and rebates to North American franchisees. Burger King’s parent company is also offering rent deferrals to franchisees of the roughly 3,700 locations it owns.
  • Yum Brands CEO David Gibbs is forgoing the rest of his base salary in 2020. His salary will instead fund one-time $1,000 bonuses to the company’s nearly 1,200 general managers and an employee medical relief fund.
  • Taco Bell is offering free Doritos Locos Tacos via drive-thru as a way of saying thank you to its customers for supporting its local communities. Taco Bell Foundation is also donating $1 million to No Kid Hungry.
  • CraftWorks plans to ultimately reopen about 125 of its 300 restaurants closed temporarily due to government-mandated pandemic restrictions leaving more than half of its restaurants permanently closed.
  • Ruth’s Chris Hospitality Group Inc. has closed 23 of its roughly 135 Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse restaurants in the United States as one of several measures to shore up its financial position.
  • GPM, Wawa, RaceTrac, andLove’s are fueling first responders & medical personnel by offering them free coffee or fountain beverages at their locations.

March 30, 2020

  • Church’s Chicken unveiled a comprehensive relief effort for Franchisees—both domestically and internationally—to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Brio Tuscan Grille and Bravo Cucina Italiana has temporarily closed 71 of its 92 locations in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • EPA has issued a 20-day waiver for winter-grade gasoline for the lower 48 states.

March 27, 2020

  • Wendy’s has withdrawn its 2020 outlook and long-term forecast as same-store sales plunge 20%.
  • GrubHub has announced it is deferring $100 million worth of commissions during the coronavirus crisis to help support independent restaurants.
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill has implemented a 10% pay increase to hourly workers.
  • Nékter Juice Bar has introduced ‘Take It and Make It,’ made-to-order, pre-portioned frozen versions of their popular smoothies to take and make at home.
  • RaceTrac has announced that it will equip locations with a “Night Pay Box” pass-through window, allowing customers to purchase in-store items without entering the convenience store.
  • 7-Eleven has announced that it will waive delivery fees through April 30.
  • Thorntons has implemented a limited-time fuel discount.

March 26, 2020

  • McDonald’s has report it is pulling its all-day breakfast menu as the chain limits options and works to simplify operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Yum Brands announced Wednesday the company’s decision to suspend its $2 billion share buyback program, and tapped into its $5255 million revolving credit facility, allowing the company the ability to provide a grace period for franchisees on royalty payments.
  • FAT Brands is working with major food delivery companies including Grubhub, UberEats, DoorDash and Postmates, to provide discounts and/or free delivery from Fatburger & Buffalo’s Express, Elevation Burger, Hurricane Grill & Wings and Yalla Mediterranean.
  • Chopt and Dos Toros both announced they are currently open for delivery with waived delivery fees & contactless delivery options for NYC & DC, as well as for pickup with curbside pickup options in suburban locations.
  • Saladworks has launched a special gift card offer, where all guests will receive a $5 gift card through Sunday, with a purchase of $20 or more when they order directly with Saladworks for take-away or delivery via online ordering, telephone or in restaurant.
  • Gusto has announced it is offering dining bonds in an effort to pay employees. Customers who purchase a $100 dining bond at any location may redeem it for $150 on July 1, or purchase a $200 dining bond and redeem it for $350 on Sept. 1, helping generate revenue now to pay employees while offering guests a greater value in the future.
  • QuikTrip is offering parking lot pickup service as COVID-19 spreads
  • Wawa has donated $30,000 to food banks for COVID-19 relief

March 25, 2020

  • Moe’s Southwest Grill announced its Free Kids Entree promotion is extended to 3/28. Additionally, Moe’s launched a build-your-own taco kit to give families everything needed to make their favorite Moe’s creation at home.
  • Insomnia Cookies unveiled ‘Red Cross Donation Week’ running from the start of business on Monday March 23rd until bakeries close at Sunday, March 29 during which, $1 from every Sugar Rush traditional 12 pack sold will be donated to the American Red Cross.
  • Luby’s Inc. is temporarily suspending operations at 35 more restaurants, furloughing more than half of its administrative staff and reducing pay 50%.
  • Terrible Herbst convenience stores have added water stations across Clark County, Nevada, amid decreasing supply of bottled water.

March 24, 2020

  • Starbucks is now enticing employees to keep coming to work with a temporary $3 per hour pay raise for employees that can still work.
    • Starbucks Service Pay will be in effect for all store-level employees from March 21 through April 19, the same time period as the catastrophe sick pay for those who are unable to work.
  • Pizza Hut is hiring and putting new procedures in place—and doubling down on others—to meet the changing demands of customers during this critical time.
  • The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf issued a press release announcing their participation in The Great American Takeout.
  • TA and Petro stopping centers will remain open.
  • goPuff has committed $1 million in orders of food and daily essentials to hospital and health care professionals across the country.

March 23, 2020

  • McDonald’s has announced that they will be closing their dining rooms and cutting off take-out service in Canada.
  • Starbucks has closed their cafes and limited orders to delivery and drive-thru.
  • Domino’s has announced they are hiring 10,000 employees amid corona crisis.
  • Conexxus has canceled its 2020 annual conference.
  • NACS State of the Industry (SOI) Summit has been recast as a virtual experience.

March 22, 2020

  • DoorDash launched a campaign encouraging restaurants to promote delivery services.
  • Lyft announced it would be expanding its services by offering food delivery in addition to medical supply delivery during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • MOOYAH Burgers, Fries and Shakes announced a nationwide deep cleaning event.

March 20, 2020

  • Cousins Subs has introduces curbside pickup at select restaurants.

March 19, 2020

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill has expanded free delivery with new Uber Eats partnership.
  • KFC has announced a shift to drive-thru, delivery and pick-up only in response to COVID-19.
  • Qdoba has announced a dine-in suspension at all locations and the switch to only take out and delivery where applicable.
  • Ruby Tuesday has announced free delivery through DoorDash, Grubhub, and Postmates (where available) and 25% off of take-out orders.
  • 7-Eleven has announced a ‘contactless’ delivery option

March 18, 2020

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced its restaurant will temporarily halt dine-in service in light of Covid-19.
  • Burger King has announced it will soon begin offering two free kids meals per adult meal. The offer is for food ordered online or through Burger King’s mobile-phone app.
  • Dunkin’ has announced it would remove all tables and chairs from its restaurants to prevent the congregation of customers and encourage social distancing.
  • McDonald’s Corp. announced early Tuesday that it may defer franchisee rent payments for a time to help them get through a period in which their sales are expected to slump badly as restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus take hold around the globe.
  • DoorDash has announced a series of relief measures for restaurant partners, including waiving some commissions and marketing support.
  • Chuck E. Cheese has announced that it will temporarily suspend dine-in operations and shift efforts toward their carry-out and delivery options through third-party services.
  • El Pollo Loco shared changes that the company is putting into effect to encourage social distancing in an effort to help contain the COVID-19 virus.
  • Church’s has decided to temporarily close the in-restaurant dining room seating throughout all of their company restaurants to provide social distancing starting Tuesday, March 17 through Sunday, March 29.
  • Dollar General has decided to dedicate its first hour of operation to senior customers.

March 17, 2020

  • Chopt has announced it will close all locations and move to digital-only ordering in NYC and DC only, with free delivery.
  • Sweetgreen has announced that it will be dedicating their Outpost operations and teams to support those on the front lines by delivering free, fresh sg salads + bowls to hospitals in the cities they serve.
  • McDonald’s has announced they are closing all dining rooms in light of Covid-19.
  • Starbucks has announced it will offer all of their employees 20 free therapy sessions.
  • &Pizza has announced they’re offering free pizza, expanded sick leave and wage increases for employees in response to coronavirus crisis.
  • Uber Eats has announced they will now offer relief to restaurants including daily payouts.
  • Domino’s has announced it launched custom contactless delivery during coronavirus crisis
  • Sheetz, Kum & Go has announced it will provide paid leave to employees affected by COVID-19
  • Core-Mark cancels all trade shows & events through April 30


Back to Punchh Insights

Industry News

July 1, 2020

SUMMARY: The Senate reached a surprise last-minute deal late Tuesday to extend the small-business Paycheck Protection Program through August 8, passing it just hours before the lending program was set to shut down at midnight.

In addition, restaurants are still feeling the effects of COVID-19, which is contributing to decline in revenue for some eateries. NPC International Inc., the largest franchisee of Pizza Hut restaurants in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy after coronavirus-related shutdowns added to competitive pressures in the restaurant industry. Last but not least, Papa John’s continues to improve their financial outlook and performance despite the disastrous economic effects of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry. The chain announced that same-store sales have been up 24% in North America over a five week period ended on June 28, and that international same-store sales — which have been a sore spot for Papa John’s since the pandemic began — saw a 6% uptick.

  • New York Times – $130 Billion Left at Paycheck Program Deadline, but Senate Acts to Extend It LINK
  • Bloomberg – Pizza Hut and Wendy’s Operator NPC Files for Bankruptcy LINK
  • Forbes – During COVID-19, Social Distancing Includes Robots In Restaurants And Food Delivery LINK
  • Business Insider – Chick-fil-A continues to dominate customer satisfaction rankings as the fast-food chain takes over America LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Shake Shack plans 55 stores in China by 2030 LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – BurgerFi, OPES agree to $100M deal that takes brand public LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Papa John’s North America same-store sales jump 24% in June LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Le Pain Quotidien may reopen in mid-July as Aurify Brands closes deal to acquire more than 40 locations for $3 million LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Crave Chipotle’s steak? Consumers can now buy direct through new online marketplace LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Wingstop opens first ghost kitchen in U.S. LINK
  • Convenience Store News – 7-Eleven Hawaii Adds E-Commerce & Home Delivery LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – QuickChek Supports Local Food Bank LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – MAPCO Launches New App With Mobile Pay, Increased Rewards LINK
  • NACS – Meijer Nixes Cash at Self-Checkout Registers LINK

June 30, 2020

SUMMARY: As cases of coronavirus spike in other states, New Jersey restaurants won’t be allowed to resume indoor dining on Thursday as originally planned Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday. He said under the revised plan, indoor dining will be allowed to resume at a later date that has yet to be determined. Restaurants also continue to feel the economic impact of these closures with the Wall Street Journal reporting that NPC International Inc. is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection despite its brands reporting a bump in sales since the coronavirus pandemic, and Rave Restaurant Group, Inc. reported a disappointing third quarter tied to the economic impact of the global pandemic.

As of today, the SBA will no longer accept PPP borrower applications from participating PPP lenders. With $134 billion in funds still available, Senate Democrats have proposed legislation that would allow small businesses to take out a second PPP loan if they have 100 or fewer employees. “Many small businesses will continue to struggle in the weeks and months to come,” said Senator Ben Cardin in a statement. “Every business we prevent from failing now is a business that will be in a position to create jobs during the recovery.”

  • Wall Street Journal – Fast Food Franchisee NPC International Expected to File for Bankruptcy LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – As Pandemic Alters Dining, The Infatuation Scraps Its Restaurant Ratings LINK
  • Bloomberg – Impossible Says Sausage Is Available to All U.S. Restaurants LINK
  • CNBC – PPP loans are ending. Here’s where small businesses can turn now LINK
  • CNBC – Restaurant Brands CEO: Popeyes’ chicken sandwich has had an unprecedented impact on business LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Twisted Root files Chapter 11 for 3 company-owned units LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Rave Restaurant Group’s financial challenges worsened by COVID-19 as Pie Five sees Q3 same-store sales drop 21.4% LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Burger King parent RBI commits to diversity in hiring LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Tech Tracker: Restaurants turn to UV light and ‘cold fog’ devices to battle coronavirus LINK
  • CSP Magazine – 7-Eleven Goes Contactless in Utah LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Foxtrot Announces Plans to Expand Into 5 New Markets LINK
  • NACS – BP Exits Petrochemical Business LINK
  • NACS – Lockdown Snacking Is a Global Pastime LINK
  • NACS – Wawa Helps Take ‘Welcome America’ Virtual LINK

June 26, 2020

SUMMARY: As restaurants continue reopening, there is growing concern about a second shutdown, along with a reported spike in coronavirus cases in states including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington. According to a report published by Yelp Thursday, nearly 24,000 restaurants are closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with over half of them closed permanently.The Wall Street Journal reports pickup orders are boosting sales for restaurants and grocers at better margins than delivery, prompting many to build out services they hope customers will favor even after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is calling on the Trump administration to increase efforts to police PPP loans after finding a significant risk of fraud and resistance to oversight from the Small Business Administration. The GAO reported that the SBA has withheld important information and the IRS intentionally sent stimulus checks to more than 1 million people who had died. In response to criticism from the GAO, the SBA and Treasury told lawmakers they plan to give congressional committees and the GAO full access to all PPP borrower names and loan amounts by the end of next week.

  • Wall Street Journal – The Future of Fast Food Has Arrived Ahead of Schedule LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Pickup Gains Ground Over Delivery LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Darden, Olive Garden Owner, Prepares for Dining After Coronavirus Lockdowns LINK
  • Reuters – U.S. agencies to give Congress full data on coronavirus small business loans –letter LINK
  • Bloomberg – Chuck E. Cheese Parent Files for Bankruptcy, Hit by Pandemic LINK
  • CNBC – Darden Restaurants CEO says consumer behavior hasn’t changed as U.S. coronavirus cases spike LINK
  • Fox Business – PPP ‘really helpful’ for franchisees; KFC, Pizza Hut still hiring: Executive LINK
  • Business Insider – McDonald’s says it has made more Black millionaires than any other company. But Black franchisees say they face systemic inequality LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – As more restaurants reopen for dine-in, the threat of another shutdown looms LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Social-distancing rules constrain Olive Garden’s capacity, CEO Gene Lee says LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – McDonald’s permanently closing former Times Square flagship LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Jersey Mike’s CEO Peter Cancro finances new stores through special ownership program LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Taco Bell, KFC Parent Invests $100M to Fight Inequality LINK
  • NACS – Lawson Launches Self-Checkout Rewards LINK
  • NACS – QuikTrip Asks Customers for Change LINK

June 25, 2020

SUMMARY: As the PPP application deadline of June 30 approaches, key lawmakers and business leaders are looking for ways to further support small businesses, worried that the half trillion dollar program may not have been enough for those seeking long term solutions. There is emerging bipartisan support for new government-backed lending that would last much longer than lawmakers first envisioned with the PPP, with Senator Ron Johnson and former Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn both in support of a targeted second phase. Senator Marco Rubio has confirmed a “next phase of help for small business,” though he has yet to provide more information.

Media continue to cover the decline in the breakfast daypart as states allow restaurants to reopen dining rooms. According to The NPD Group: “The morning meal, which represents a breakfast or morning snack occasion, has suffered the steepest transaction declines. Morning meal customer transactions at major restaurant chains fell by 18% in the week ending June 7 compared to same week a year ago.” CNBC reports that some chains are looking to spike breakfast sales with new menu items and promotions such the addition of Impossible Foods’ meatless sausage to early morning menus at Burger King and Starbucks, and Panera Bread offering free coffee subscriptions for the rest of the summer.

  • Wall Street Journal – Pickup Gains Ground Over Delivery LINK
  • CNBC – More consumers order breakfast online, even as fast-food chains see overall segment sales fall LINK
  • CNBC – Olive Garden parent swings to a loss as sales plunge 43% LINK
  • Forbes – Paycheck Protection Program Deadline Is June 30: What To Know About Applying For The PPP And Loan Forgiveness LINK
  • Forbes – Fast Food Breakfast Faces A Long Recovery From The COVID-19 Crisis LINK
  • Forbes – This Automated Restaurant Launched Mid-Pandemic. Is This The Future Of Restaurants? LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Chefs’ salaries saw the largest increase in almost two decades before COVID-19 LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Pandemic fuels widespread changes in alcohol laws LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Shake Shack returns to unit growth, sticks to limited menu for now LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Restaurant Reopenings May Be Having Adverse Impact on C-stores LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – TravelCenters of America CEO Commits to ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ in Letter to Employees LINK
  • NACS – Robots Run the Kitchen LINK

June 24, 2020

SUMMARY: New PPP guidance released Monday night declares that PPP recipients can apply for loan forgiveness early but doing so could cost them money. In a 34-page interim final rule (IFR) issued in consultation with the Treasury, the SBA addresses a number of issues related to the PPP to provide forgivable loans to small businesses, not-for-profits, and certain other entities hurt by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated government-imposed quarantines.

Furthermore, various restaurant brands are taking initiative to regain their footing in the industry. For instance, Todd Graves, founder and CEO of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, will be investing $2 million and his time to help at least 20 independent restaurant owners overcome the struggles of the coronavirus pandemic. Separately, Dine Brands Global Inc., the parent company of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP restaurants, has named Tony Moralejo to the newly created position of President for International and Global Development and Justin Skelton as Chief Information Officer.

  • Bloomberg – Opening a Restaurant During a Pandemic LINK
  • CNBC – 14% of businesses expect layoffs after using their PPP loan funds LINK
  • CNBC – Impossible Foods CEO says the meat industry will be obsolete in 15 years — ‘That’s our mission’ LINK
  • Forbes – White House Pushing For Second Round Of Stimulus Checks LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – The cost of equipping a post-shutdown restaurant LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Raising Cane’s founder Todd Graves to invest $2 million in ‘Restaurant Recovery’ TV show LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Beverage directors share best practices for safe drink service in restaurants LINK
  • NACS – Starbucks Sells ‘Impossible’ Breakfast Sandwich LINK
  • NACS – Survey Reveals 45% of U.S. Drivers Fill Up Once a Month LINK
  • NACS – Casey’s Partners With RangeMe to Reimagine Merchandising LINK
  • NACS – Boosting Foodservice Sales Post-COVID-19 LINK

June 23, 2020

SUMMARY: Despite now being in phase two of its reopening allowing for socially distanced outdoor dining, restaurants in New York City still face an unprecedented environment. Restaurants are enforcing all manner of methods and new procedures in order to minimize contact between employees and patrons – even famous restaurateur Jean-Georges will be implementing the use of QR codes for ordering and bill paying. Still, even with these new health and safety parameters in place, CNBC reports that 32% of individuals surveyed would not be comfortable dining out until 2021.

Yesterday, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal, Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, and Small Business Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez issued a statement reiterating demand for full PPP transparency following the SBA and Treasury’s announcement that it would disclose certain information regarding loans and recipients. “Given that 85 percent of loans issued were for amounts smaller than $150,000, only sharing data on disbursements above that threshold is utterly inadequate,” the democrats claimed in the statement. “We want SBA and Treasury to provide us with the names of all recipients of PPP loans, the dollar amount of all loans received, and the names of all applicants that did not receive PPP loans.”

  • Wall Street Journal – Delivery Firm Got PPP Loan Even as Demand Rose During Pandemic LINK
  • Bloomberg – Americans Are Actually Drinking Less During the Pandemic LINK
  • Bloomberg – Over 2 Million Restaurants Worldwide Teeter on Brink of Collapse LINK
  • CNBC – Consumers are eating more restaurant meals, but many are more cautious about going out to eat LINK
  • Business Insider – People are slamming Chick-fil-A’s CEO for shining a Black man’s shoes onstage in a bizarre display of repentance and shame LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – New National Restaurant Association CEO Tom Bene calls coronavirus losses ‘catastrophic’ LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Kids dining programs developed during coronavirus prove to be a big hit for chains that pivoted to delivery or takeout only LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Food Focus Builds Baskets LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Stewart’s Shops Donates Over $790,000 in COVID-19 Relief LINK
  • NACS – Consumers Move Toward ‘Normal’ LINK

June 22, 2020

SUMMARY: The Small Business Administration announced on Friday it will begin disclosing information of PPP borrowers with loans of $150k and larger; this will reveal the names of about 14% of PPP borrowers. However, Mnuchin says they will not reveal “the payroll and personal income information of small businesses, sole proprietors and independent contractors” but “will disclose the business names, addresses, NAICS codes, zip codes, business type, demographic data, non-profit information, jobs supported, and loan amount ranges” in five different brackets, the Treasury said. It has not yet been announced when the data will be released.

As restaurants continue struggling to recover from the ongoing pandemic, several chains, particularly fast food brands, have been caught in the crossfire of cultural and political debates, with many users trying to “cancel” restaurants with viral stories on social media. In other news, DoorDash announced it has raised $400 million in equity capital, selling shares to mutual fund companies T. Rowe Price and Fidelity, along with other investors. The new funding round was led by Durable Capital Partners and Fidelity and raises the company’s valuation to nearly $16 billion. According to CNBC.com, the deal could push off the meal-delivery giant’s move to go public.

  • Wall Street Journal – Potential Buyers Are Circling Chuck E. Cheese, Widening Its Options LINK
  • CNBC – U.S. Treasury, SBA to disclose names of most businesses taking PPP loans LINK
  • CNBC – DoorDash scores valuation of $16 billion as coronavirus pushes it to top of food-delivery chain LINK
  • MarketWatch – Self-employed and considering a PPP loan? There’s good news for you LINK
  • Forbes – What PPP Loan Borrowers Should Consider When Choosing Between The 8 Or 24 Week Forgiveness Period LINK
  • Business Insider – How fast food got caught in the crossfire of viral social debates, as Shake Shack, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell are forced into the spotlight LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Working Lunch: Restaurant operators navigate social unrest LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurant closures: Rubio’s Coastal Grill plans to shutter a dozen units LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Weigel’s Donates 60,000 Gallons of Milk to Those in Need LINK
  • CSP Magazine – PDI Acquires ZipLine LINK
  • NACS – C-Stores Not Out of the Woods Yet LINK
  • NACS – Ideas for Reimagining Store Layouts LINK

June 19, 2020

SUMMARY: As restaurants continue to feel the lasting financial impact of COVID-19, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced the ‘Real Economic Support that Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive Act’, or ‘Restaurant Act’, on Thursday to establish a $120 billon fund for independent food service or drinking establishments devastated from the pandemic. The Act would provide grants to restaurants that are not publicly traded and have $1.5 million or less in revenue under normal circumstances.

  • Wall Street Journal – McDonald’s Keeps Salads, Bagels Off Menus for Now LINK
  • Bloomberg – Hello, Home Office; Bye-Bye, Dunkin’ Drive-Thru LINK
  • CNBC – McDonald’s to hire 260,000 workers as it reopens U.S. dining rooms LINK
  • CNBC – Subway franchisees to hire 50,000 workers as it brings back $5 footlong deal LINK
  • Forbes – SBA Releases New EZ PPP Loan Forgiveness Application LINK
  • Financial Times – Why the US pandemic response risks widening the economic divide LINK
  • TIME – ‘No Lessons Have Been Learned.’ Why the Trillion-Dollar Coronavirus Bailout Benefited the Rich LINK
  • Business Insider – Taco Bell apologizes and says that it does not ban employees from wearing Black Lives Matter masks, after a worker was fired for doing so in a viral video LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Trending this week: Starbucks walks back stance on workers wearing Black Lives Matter gear, and more on Yum Brands suing Grubhub for breach of contract LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Average Fuel Buying in U.S. Dropped to 2.8 Transactions a Month Between March 1 & May 31 LINK
  • NACS – Fuels Institute Creates EV Council LINK
  • NACS – Companies, States Observe Juneteenth LINK
  • NACS – Wawa Hits 900th Store Milestone LINK

June 18, 2020

SUMMARY: The restaurant industry has seen drastic changes in recent weeks, which have led to transformation across all verticals. This week, Chipotle has expanded the functionality of its digital ordering platforms by adding the option to order through Facebook Messenger, as well as giving consumers the ability to make group orders and donations. Furthermore, Panda Express is cutting out the middleman in deliveries (Uber Eats and Postmates) so its guests will not incur additional fees typically found on third-party apps with the launch of its new delivery service. Lastly, McDonald’s has promoted Shammara Howell to the role of vice president and global chief talent officer.

  • Wall Street Journal – Pressure Builds on Trump Administration to Name PPP Borrowers LINK
  • The New York Times – Small Businesses Get Easier Path to Relief-Loan Forgiveness LINK
  • ABC News – Restaurant, food service industry has lost nearly $120B due to pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Chipotle Mexican Grill introduces Facebook concierge bot ‘Pepper’ to take orders LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – 5 consumer insights impacting the future of on-premise restaurant dining LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – McDonald’s names new executive HR team with departure of Chief People Officer Melissa Kersey LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Krystal leaders head over to On the Border: Tim Ward replaces Matt Hood as CEO LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Panera Bread has hired multiple executives in supply, menu, human resources and e-commerce areas LINK
  • Fast Casual – How Mooyah Ops VP helping franchisees land, navigate PPP funds LINK
  • USA TODAY – Panda Express launches delivery service as it cuts the Uber Eats, Postmastes middleman LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Workweek Trips to C-stores Bouncing Back in First States to Reopen LINK
  • NACS – Startup Aims to Reduce Plastic with Refillable Packaging LINK
  • NACS – RaceTrac Launches New Fuel Rewards VIP Program LINK

June 17, 2020

SUMMARY: As staggered reopening efforts continue across the nation, restaurant brands are continuing to find that post-lockdown is a vastly different environment than the one that preceded it. While McDonald’s is bouncing back from its pandemic sales-dip, Denny Corp. has yet to recover from its 40% plunge in same-store sales. As Chili’s units begin to reopen, franchisees are finding their restaurants populated primarily by young individuals ordering drinks, rather than the family-based demographics the restaurant brand is used to. In some of the earlier states that begun reopening procedures such as Florida and Arizona, the Washington Post reports that many restaurants are voluntarily shutting their doors once more due to new spikes in COVID-19 infections in their respective states.

The SBA filed its 19th Interim Final Rule (IFR), scheduled to be published on Friday June 19th, focusing on revisions made from Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (Flexibility Act) signed into law on June 5th. The unpublished version of the update ensures full forgiveness for self-employed, freelancers and independent contractors who took the maximum loan amount based on 2.5 times their 2019 monthly income.

  • Bloomberg – McDonald’s U.S. Sales Stabilize After Lockdown Caused Plunge LINK
  • Bloomberg – Chili’s First Diners Back Are Young, Kid-Free and Ready to Drink LINK
  • CNBC – McDonald’s to bring back some menu items cut during the pandemic LINK
  • CNBC – Take a look inside a reopened Chili’s restaurant LINK
  • Forbes – SBA Finally Clarifies PPP Loan Forgiveness Rules: Full Forgiveness For Self-Employed Borrowers LINK
  • Washington Post – ‘There is no playbook’: Restaurants are closing again after workers test positive for coronavirus LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurants change course to stay afloat during coronavirus crisis LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Drive-thrus put quick-service restaurant chains like Raising Cane’s, In-N-Out in the fast lane of pandemic recovery LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurants face speedbumps from workforce to traffic on the road to recovery LINK
  • NACS – How E-commerce Is Changing Shopping LINK
  • NACS – Gas Buying Habits During the Pandemic LINK
  • NACS – Creating a Safe Learning Environment LINK
  • NACS – Amazon Unveils ‘Distance Assistant’ LINK
  • NACS – How Casey’s Pivoted During the Pandemic LINK

June 16, 2020

SUMMARY: According to a report by the National Restaurant Association, restaurant operators don’t expect to turn a profit within the next six months as the industry lost $40 billion in May, bringing the total economic losses tied to the coronavirus crisis to $120 billion. Additionally, about 55% of operators with temporarily closed restaurants said there are not enough customers to justify reopening.

On the heels of the Trump Administration’s decision not to release the names of companies that received funding through the PPP, lawmakers and watchdog groups are calling for more transparency, including Congresswomen Waters and Velazquez and Congressman Neal as well as all Democratic Members of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis who penned letters to the SBA and Treasury Department urging them to release more information. Oversight Commission member French Hill has also said names and loan details should be revealed under existing SBA policy.

  • Wall Street Journal – McDonald’s U.S. Sales Bounce Back LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – ‘Running on Fumes’: Restaurants Trying to Reopen Face Cash Crunch LINK
  • New York Times – Stocks Climb After Fed Details Bond-Buying Plan LINK
  • CNBC – McDonald’s U.S. same-store sales fall 5% in May as dining rooms reopen LINK
  • PYMNTS – Restaurant Group Says Pandemic Could Cost Industry $240B LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – National Restaurant Association: 75% of restaurant operators don’t expect to turn a profit in near future LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – El Pollo Loco, Sweetgreen and more restaurant chains open new units as coronavirus restrictions lift across the U.S. LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Panda Express seeks 30,000 new hires, launches its own delivery service LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Working From Home Greatly Impacts Shopping & Purchasing Behavior LINK
  • NACS – Workweek Trips to C-Stores Are Almost Back LINK
  • NACS – Pandemic Shopping Habits May be Here to Stay LINK

June 15, 2020

SUMMARY: As restaurants continue to reopen across the country in accordance with state regulations, waitstaff struggle to execute “service with a smile,” a long-time mantra for servers and bartenders. Additional pressure is put on servers as they work to strike a balance between sparking customers’ confidence in health procedures, while building a rapport and generating tips behind a mask.

  • Wall Street Journal – Companies Unclear on How to Account for Coronavirus Aid LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Denny’s Scrambles to Adjust to a New Restaurant Age LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Waitstaff Juggle ‘Service With a Smile’ and Safety Concerns as Restaurants Reopen LINK
  • Bloomberg – Open Restaurants, Return to Work Leave Grocery Stocks in Limbo LINK
  • CNBC – Burger King is launching Impossible Foods’ meatless sausage on its breakfast menu nationwide LINK
  • Business Insider – America’s retreat to comfort food during the pandemic isn’t pure nostalgia — it’s a survival tactic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Working Lunch: A busy week in the restaurant delivery space LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Stewart’s Offers Free Ice Cream, Debuts LTO Flavor LINK
  • NACS – Consumers Seek Out Clean Stores LINK
  • NACS – Consumers Re-Shape Retail Food Trends LINK
  • NACS – Mobility Prospects for a Post-COVID World LINK
  • NACS – EV Report Examines Market and Charging Needs LINK
  • NACS – Dining Room Reopening Rules Are Mixed LINK

June 12, 2020

SUMMARY: The Treasury announced that it will withhold PPP loan data as a way to protect the information of small businesses and not reveal the salaries of sole proprietors and independent contractors. This decision comes just a week after Senators Rubio (R-FL) and Cardin (D-MD) asked the SBA to publish the name and address of borrowers, their loan/grant amount, business type, congressional district and number of jobs supported by each loan.

Restaurants across the nation are preparing to open doors to patrons, which has led to wide-spread consolidations and/or aggressive hiring to offset any imbalance within the restaurants. Starbucks is closing up to 400 stores across the US as the coffee giant adopts new strategies amid the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the chain is also planning to open fewer stores this year, cutting its expectations of openings to 300 from 600. Dunkin’ is hiring 25,000 people across America. The hiring spree comes as restaurants reopen, with roughly 90% of Dunkin’ locations in the US currently open.

  • Business Insider – Starbucks plans to close up to 400 stores, as the coffee giant attempts to prepare for a post-pandemic America LINK
  • Business Insider – Dunkin’ is hiring 25,000 workers across America LINK
  • PYMNTS – No Rest For Ghost Kitchens As Restaurants Reopen LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Yum Brands sues Grubhub for breach of contract LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Bloomin’ returns dine-in to about three-quarters of U.S. company units LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Trending this week: Just Eat Takeaway agrees to acquire Grubhub and more on McDonald’s addressing its limited menu LINK
  • Restaurant Business – The third-party delivery shakeup begins LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Shell Offers Special Fuel Savings to DoorDash Drivers LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Wawa Launches Curbside Ordering With Expansion Plans in Tow LINK
  • NACS – More States Loosen Limits on Alcohol Delivery LINK
  • NACS – MAPCO Introduces Full Service at the Pump LINK

June 11, 2020

SUMMARY: The state of the restaurant industry continues to fluctuate as the nation carries on with its staggered march towards fully reopening. Yum! Brands, Inc. has recently seen mixed numbers, with Pizza Hut charting record numbers in May thanks to its delivery and takeout options, but Taco Bell facing a dip in same-store sales due to shrinking enthusiasm in breakfast menu and late night orders. After alleged talks of a merger with Uber fell through, Grubhub has now announced that it will be acquired by European company Just Eat Takeaway for $7.3 billion.

Yesterday the SBA Administrator Carranza and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin testified before the Senate Small Business Committee on the PPP and other business aid efforts. Much of the hearing focused on the successes and failures of the PPP and how the SBA will implement the changes that President Trump signed into law on Friday. Both Carranza and Mnuchin also responded to complaints that the administration has not released loan data, including the names of PPP recipients. While satisfied with the program as it stands, Mnuchin revealed that he “definitely think(s) we are going to need another bipartisan legislation to put more money into the economy,” pointing out that small businesses and “many big businesses in certain industries” are going to need more help.

  • Wall Street Journal – Restaurants Parse Extensive and Conflicting Guidance as They Reopen LINK
  • CNBC – Here are five lessons that entrepreneurs can apply to their businesses, post-PPP LINK
  • CNBC – Grubhub to merge with European food delivery company Just Eat Takeaway.com following failed Uber talks LINK
  • CNBC – Taco Bell same-store sales decline as chain loses breakfast and late-night customers LINK
  • CNBC – Restaurant bookings data show U.S. economy is starting to revive after Covid closures (Updated) LINK
  • Bloomberg – Starbucks, Built on Togetherness, Tries to Adapt to Distancing LINK
  • Forbes – The Number One Problem Plaguing Restaurants As They Try To Reopen LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Role reversal at Yum Brands: Taco Bell hurting, Pizza Hut seeing record off-premise sales LINK
  • Restaurant Business – What will a more remote workforce do to restaurants? LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – TravelCenters of America Issues COVID-19 Update LINK
  • NACS – Pandemic Lessons From Food Businesses LINK
  • NACS – GPS Enhances Curbside Pickup LINK

June 10, 2020

SUMMARY: As restaurants continue to establish health and safety plans in compliance with state regulations as they begin to reopen across the nation, another challenge operators face are food prices rising from suppliers and other expenses. The biggest hit will likely come from the meat industry, as CNBC reported the industry is potentially facing losses of more than $20 billion in 2020. Additionally, restaurants continue to struggle with DSP’s and their fees, with an uptick in telecommuting as a potential factor to the decline in foot traffic for some restaurants.

The Federal Reserve announced Monday that it will expand the terms of its $600 billion yet-to-launch Main Street Lending Program to make it accessible to more companies. Under the new terms, the Fed will lower the minimum loan amount from $500,000 to $250,000, raise the maximum loan amount from $200 million to $300 million and extend the repayment period from four years to five years. Borrowers are not obligated to make principal payments for the first two years.

  • Wall Street Journal – Big Restaurant Owners Face Reopening Headaches LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Coronavirus Speeds Up Starbucks Shift to Takeout LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Banks Use Software Bots to Process Surge of Pandemic-Related Loans LINK
  • CNN Business – Small biz owners just got more time to use their PPP loans. Here’s what else you need to know LINK
  • Forbes – Post-Pandemic Restaurants Will Have To Change Their Ways LINK
  • Business Insider – Meat costs are soaring during the pandemic, sending prices skyrocketing in grocery stores and on restaurants’ menus LINK
  • PYMNTS – How To Digitally Reinvent A Restaurant In Real Time LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Report: Chuck E. Cheese parent seeks $200 million loan to avoid bankruptcy LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Wendy’s beef supplies back to ‘near-normal’ LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Chili’s Grill & Bar, Maggiano’s Little Italy reopen more dining rooms LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – A Third of Americans Plan to Take at Least One Summer Road Trip LINK
  • NACS – Meat Industry Contends With Illness LINK
  • NACS – OSHA Provides General Worker Guidance LINK

June 9, 2020

SUMMARY: As restaurants reopen on-premises dining in various states across the country, operators are navigating how to generate a profit while adhering to lower-capacity mandates and investing in various safety features such as masks for workers and Plexiglas dividers. Restaurant-supply-chain company Buyers Edge Platform estimates that food costs have soared by 38% amid the pandemic. The industry’s already thin margins have led many restaurants to impose a surcharge or raise menu prices causing a mixed response from customers.

Following passage of the PPP Flexibility Act, the SBA and Treasury have issued a new statement surrounding the changes and how they plan to implement the 60% payroll requirement. “If a borrower uses less than 60 percent of the loan amount for payroll costs during the forgiveness covered period, the borrower will continue to be eligible for partial loan forgiveness, subject to at least 60 percent of the loan forgiveness amount having been used for payroll costs,” according to the statement. Further rules and guidance along with a modified loan application and forgiveness form are said to be released soon.

  • Wall Street Journal – Fed Makes Terms More Favorable for Main Street Lending Program LINK
  • Bloomberg – Wendy’s Signals America’s Beef Crisis Is Over, at Least For Now LINK
  • CNBC – Dunkin’ plans to hire 25,000 workers as restaurant industry begins pandemic recovery LINK
  • Forbes – PPP Breaking News! – – Treasury Announces Relief From 60% Cliff! LINK
  • Entrepreneur – Free Webinar | June 11: What You Need to Know About The PPP Updates LINK
  • Business Insider – Restaurants rehired nearly 1.4 million workers in May. Here’s why that number may be less impressive than it sounds. LINK
  • Business Insider – Restaurants’ COVID-19 surcharges infuriated customers, but experts say dining out is about to get even more expensive LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurants Rise: How marketing is changing in a post-COVID-19 world LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Dunkin’ partners with Southern New Hampshire University to entice 25,000 new workers with low-cost degrees LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Consumers Focused on Getting the Most From Their Stocked Pantries LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Community Service Spotlight: C-store Industry Continues Momentum Around COVID-19 Relief Efforts LINK
  • NACS – C-Store Channel Sees Slow, Steady Improvement LINK

June 8, 2020

SUMMARY: President Donald Trump signed a bill Friday to give recipients of government small business loans during the coronavirus more flexibility in how they spend the money. The Senate passed the legislation by voice vote Wednesday, following nearly unanimous House approval last week. The measure eases the conditions small businesses have to meet in order to get the Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven, as some struggled to meet key thresholds during the pandemic. Trump said the legislation “will especially help restaurants, hotels and other businesses that have been very hard hit by the virus.”

Furthermore, restaurants are slowly seeing an increase in revenue as many find unique ways to drive business. For instance, McDonald’s put all-day breakfast on hold as part of a plan to trim the menu during the pandemic. NOA (The National Owners Association) said the limited menu has made service times faster. After consistent improvement in the past two months, Potbelly same-store sales are declining in the mid-20 percent range after seeing a nearly 70 percent drop in March.

  • Business Insider – People are accusing fast-food giants like Wendy’s and McDonald’s of funding Trump’s reelection. Here’s what is really happening LINK
  • Business Insider – Friday’s May jobs report surprised economists. It could be a sign that the government’s program to rescue small businesses is paying off LINK
  • Business Insider – Experts lay out the best options for new entrepreneurs looking for cash to relaunch their businesses this year if they don’t qualify for a PPP loan LINK
  • Forbes – President Trump Signs Law Easing PPP Loan Rules: 6 Things To Know LINK
  • Forbes – Unique Opportunity: Apply Here For A (Forgivable) PPP Loan Up To $2 Million LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – McDonald’s addresses limited menu, sustainability efforts amid coronavirus LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – How the 10 biggest restaurant chains in America are responding to civil unrest LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Consumers are excited to return to restaurants, but they want a safe and relaxing experience, Datassential says LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Convenience Distribution Association Turns CDBX Into Virtual Event LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – COVID-19 Accelerates Digital Momentum LINK
  • NACS – Staying Safe Via Tech in Foodservice LINK

June 5, 2020

SUMMARY: New York City and Los Angeles are each in the process of outlining and preparing to implement their reopening procedures. Considering their respective sizes and population densities, this could represent a major milestone as the nation slowly recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically for the ailing restaurant industry. Despite select brands such as Papa John’s continuing to hire and see boosts in same-store sales, many brands continue to be in dire financial straits. In-N-Out is reportedly suing its insurance provider over an alleged breach of contract after its COVID-19 claims were denied, possibly serving as the first of many brands that may run into the same issue as the industry recovers.

Although the legislation to make PPP restrictions more flexible passed in both the House and the Senate, guidance on how the bill will be implemented is yet to be shared. Namely, it remains unknown whether the 60% payroll requirement, which was previously a 75% requirement, will be used as an all-or-nothing standard for forgiveness.

  • Wall Street Journal – Some Restaurants Had Been Set to Reopen. Now They Are Repairing Damage. LINK
  • CNBC – Good news for small businesses as Senate passes PPP reform bill LINK
  • Forbes – The Restaurant Industry In The U.S. Has Lost Millions Of Jobs, But Papa John’s Is Hiring LINK
  • Bloomberg Law – Wells Fargo Investors Challenge Bank’s PPP Loan Allocations LINK
  • Washington Post – Robots, lampshades and mannequins: How restaurants around the world are adapting to the coronavirus LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – As coronavirus restrictions lift, here are 11 restaurant industry executives who made moves in May LINK
  • Restaurant Business – How the restaurant industry won fixes in the PPP LINK
  • NACS – Sparse Grocery Shelves Likely to Continue LINK
  • NACS – Retailers May Look to China For ‘New Normal’ LINK
  • NACS – FreshStop Digitally Thanks Frontliners LINK

June 4, 2020

SUMMARY: Restaurants continue to focus on reopening their dining rooms, with several companies including Dunkin’, Baskin Robbins, Checkers and Rally‘s reporting same-store sales are improving. In addition, many restaurants are facing a difficult decision on whether to allow their employees and delivery drivers to work past curfews that have been enacted following protests and riots across the nation. While this is a critical time for restaurants who are hoping to generate revenue following months of dining rooms being closed, many are choosing to send employees home for safety purposes.

Wednesday evening the Senate passed House legislation to loosen restrictions of PPP small business loans, sending the bill to President Trump for his signature. Upon the president’s approval, the new amendments will give borrowers 24 weeks instead of eight to use the funds, lower the amount they must spend on payroll to qualify for full loan forgiveness to 60% from 75% and allow businesses five years to repay any money owed.

  • Bloomberg Radio – Checker’s and Rally’s CEO on ’Not Missing a Beat’ (Podcast) LINK
  • Forbes – Congress Agrees On Favorable Changes To Paycheck Protection Loans: What Does It Mean For Borrowers? LINK
  • Grub Street – Food Delivery Under Curfew LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurants Rise: How operators are pivoting to focus on to-go meals LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Dunkin’, Baskin-Robbins sales improve as coronavirus pandemic continues LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Cheesecake Factory expands dine-in to a quarter of system LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison credits culture for brand success LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Luby’s puts assets, operating divisions up for sale LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Nouria to Give Free Reusable Face Masks to Customers LINK
  • NACS – Five Ways to Enhance Restroom Sanitation LINK
  • NACS – Nominations Open for 6th Annual Sani Food Safety Awards LINK

June 3, 2020

SUMMARY: As states across the country begin to open their economies and restaurant doors, recent research shows the industry is starting to recover after social distancing guidelines forced sales to fall. The NPD Group, which tracks transactions for 70 quick-service, fast-casual and full-service restaurant chains, found that transactions declined just 18% during the week ended May 24.

After the Senate GOP’s Tuesday lunch, Republicans are divided over how to move forward with legislation to fix the Paycheck Protection Program. This will likely delay the process and require the Senate to have to hold a roll call vote on the House-passed bill that would give business owners more time and flexibility to use funding they received. Leaders had hoped to fast track the legislation this week with a unanimous consent agreement, but multiple lawmakers including GOP Whip John Thune of South Dakota told CNN that a simple unanimous consent agreement wasn’t likely given how widespread disagreements are over the proposal. “At the moment, it’s a complicated picture,” Thune said. “Multiple members are opposed for different reasons, but some are just opposed to doing anything right now. We have to see if we can create a process to address those concerns.”

  • CNBC – 3 charts that show the U.S. restaurant industry’s coronavirus recovery LINK
  • Barron’s – Restaurants Are Reopening. That Won’t Stop Domino’s Pizza. LINK
  • CNN – Republicans divided over fixes for small business Paycheck Protection Program LINK
  • Business Insider – ‘Exhausted’ Starbucks workers are forced to choose between reduced hours or unpaid leave, as the coffee giant adjusts to a new normal LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – In-N-Out Burger sues Zurich American Insurance over denial of COVID-19 claim LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Cracker Barrel’s post-pandemic strategy: testing beer and wine program, rolling out new menu LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Drive-Thru Accounts for Almost Half of All Restaurant Occasions LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Morning Daypart Trips to C-stores Are at 80% of Prior Year LINK
  • NACS – More People Drive as Gas Prices Stay Low LINK
  • NACS – Dollar Stores See Pandemic Sales Bump LINK
  • NACS – COVID-19 Shows Need for Smart Food Safety LINK

June 2, 2020

SUMMARY: The SBA released an updated PPP report through Sunday, indicating more than $120 billion available for small business loan approval. With many business owners steering away from the program due to strict forgiveness and payroll guidelines and fear of public scrutiny, the House passed a bill on Friday that attempted to fix these issues and encourage small businesses to apply.

Furthermore, many restaurants are finding different ways to recover from the pandemic as well as the unrest happening around the nation, which continue to transpire nationwide. Casual-dining chain, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers has reopened 158 company-operated dining rooms and is taking a number of steps, including paying partial rent for its headquarters, to reduce its cash burn rate during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, Texas Restaurant Association is expanding its TX Restaurant Relief Fund, originally tasked with raising money to help operators cope with coronavirus pandemic issues, to include independent restaurants damaged by vandalism connected to this past weekend’s riots.

  • Business Insider – What the new normal will look like at Chick-fil-A, as the chain begins to open dining rooms LINK
  • Business Insider – Pizza, hot dogs, and tequila: What Americans are eating and drinking during quarantine, sending sales skyrocketing LINK
  • USA Today – Small banks and small businesses turned out to be a good combination when it came to PPP loans LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Texas Restaurant Association expands COVID-19 relief fund to include vandalism damage in wake of protests LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – C-Stores Respond to Nationwide Protests LINK
  • NACS – Food Costs Jump During Pandemic LINK
  • NACS – C-stores and Fuel Wholesalers Lend a Hand LINK
  • NACS – Most Post-pandemic Payments May Be Cashless LINK

June 1, 2020

SUMMARY: While all 50 states have at least entered phase one of their reopening processes, Salon reports that some restaurants plan to continue keeping their units closed for sit-down dining, citing a lack of sufficient COVID-19 testing and continued public health concerns. While this may contribute to further financial hardship, delivery and takeout options provide options for restaurants to continue driving sales. For example, CNBC reports that Popeyes has seen a 40% boost in same-store sales in the United States since the COVID-19 outbreak began. A number of states and local municipalities are rolling out outdoor dining to help maintain social distancing guidelines.

As noted on Friday, The House passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. It reduces the amount of the loan needed to be spent on payroll from 75% to 60%, extends the window businesses have to use the funds from eight weeks to 24 weeks, pushes back a June 30 deadline to rehire workers to December 31, 2020, provides more leeway on loan forgiveness for business owners who show they could not rehire workers or reopen due to safety standards, extends the time recipients have to repay the loan and lets companies that get loan forgiveness defer payroll taxes.

  • Wall Street Journal – How to Fix the Paycheck Protection Program LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Retailers and Restaurants Hit in Protests, Adding to Coronavirus Damage LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – The Hottest Item on Takeout Menus: Leftovers LINK
  • Bloomberg – Two-Thirds of Public Restaurants Are Seen at Risk of Bankruptcy LINK
  • MarketWatch – House approves bill that gives small businesses more time to use PPP loans and lets them spend less on payroll LINK
  • Forbes – How To Reopen Restaurants And Bars LINK
  • Forbes – How Two Restaurants Hold It Together In Uncertain Times LINK
  • Business Insider – Chain restaurants have permanently closed over 500 locations so far in 2020. Here’s the full list. LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurant consumers may favor delivery and carryout even as dining rooms reopen LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Restaurants with closed dining rooms win clearance for outdoor seating LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Sheetz Wraps Up Free Meal Program After 600,000 Meals LINK
  • NACS – Convenience Retailers Focus on New Opportunities LINK

May 29, 2020

SUMMARY: After widespread complaints that the Payment Protection Program’s terms were too restrictive for small businesses, the House passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act in an overwhelming 417-1 vote. The bill extends the forgiveness period for PPP loans from eight to 24 weeks, reduces payroll spending requirements from 75% of loan funds to 60%, and extends the deadline to re-hire workers to June 30.

Guest sentiment around off-premise offerings have started to recover, following a dip around the time restaurants began reopening in early May, according to Black Box Intelligence’s guest metrics. Restaurants continue to seek out ways to modify their dining rooms to adhere to state regulations, with The Wall Street Journal reporting how social distancing measures will have a significant negative impact on restaurants trying to reopen and make a profit as a result of not being able to maximize their capacity. It has also been reported that meal kits from restaurants will continue to see increased demand as well as consumers demand for safety and value.

  • Wall Street Journal – Cook-It-Yourself? Restaurants See Future for Meal Kits Post-Pandemic LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Restaurants Say Socially Distant Dining Rooms Could Wipe Out Business LINK
  • Bloomberg – SEC Is Scrutinizing Public Companies Granted Virus Relief Funds LINK
  • Bloomberg – How Not to Help Restaurants During the Pandemic LINK
  • CNBC – Popeyes U.S. same-store sales soar more than 40% LINK
  • Forbes – Reopened, The Hospitality Industry Will Pivot To Technology, Says One Industry Service Provider LINK
  • Forbes – Strange And Sensible Ways Restaurants Are Social Distancing Customers LINK
  • Grub Street – Restaurant Owners Are Pushing Back Against Reopenings LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Guest sentiment toward off-premise recovers in late May, Black Box says LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – DoorDash adds e-commerce ordering platform aimed at independent restaurants LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Aramark Opens Pop-Up C-Stores for Healthcare Workers LINK
  • NACS – Food Experts View Takeout, Delivery as Low Risk LINK

May 28, 2020

SUMMARY: CNBC reported that the national decline in restaurant bookings is starting to slow, a development that could suggest that the broader U.S. economy may be on track for a rebound. Statistics provided by OpenTable for May 26 show that the number of seated diners at its restaurants nationwide are down 85% compared to this time last year, which although significant, is an improvement from the 100% decline observed as recently as earlier this month and throughout April.

In response to outside critique, House lawmakers have released a revised version of the PPP bill slated to pass today that would ease loan forgiveness rules by setting a 60 percent minimum for payroll spending and give businesses up to 24 weeks to use the funds, or December 31, or whichever comes sooner.

  • CNBC – Most publicly listed companies keep U.S. small-business aid loans LINK
  • Forbes – Latest Guidance On PPP Loan Forgiveness LINK
  • Business Insider – Food trucks may be the perfect solution to feed customers’ nostalgia for dining out as the future of the restaurant industry remains uncertain LINK
  • NPR – Why The Small Business Rescue Program Has Slowed Way Down LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Cumberland Farms Launches Curbside Pickup at Select Stores LINK
  • Convenience Store News – MAPCO Takes ‘Full Service’ to a New Level LINK
  • NACS – Communities Can Count on Convenience Stores LINK
  • NACS – Three Tips to Improve Digital Search LINK

May 27, 2020

SUMMARY: Following the new interim rules released by the SBA on loan forgiveness applications, The House may pass a bill tomorrow that would extend the current eight-week period during which businesses must use funds to have loans forgiven, to 24 weeks or December 31, or whichever comes sooner.

Additionally, the SBA data shows that there is still $150 billion left in the program after many small businesses have stopped applying for loans and many larger businesses have returned their portions. With this being said, Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have introduced competing bills that would allow local chambers of commerce and trade associations like America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and PhRMA, to tap into the PPP federal funding.

  • Reuters – U.S. small firms leave $150 billion in coronavirus stimulus untapped LINK
  • Bloomberg – TGI Friday’s to Permanently Close Up to 20% of U.S. Restaurants LINK
  • Bloomberg Tax – Treasury Clarifies Rules on Paycheck Protection Loan Forgiveness LINK
  • Forbes – Demand For The Paycheck Protection Program Is Drying Up LINK
  • Forbes – Is A Coronavirus Hardship Personal Loan Right For You? LINK
  • Business Insider – Food trucks may be the perfect solution to feed customers’ nostalgia for dining out as the future of the restaurant industry remains uncertain LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Denny’s franchisee Feast American Diners closes 15 restaurants in New York LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Restaurant Transactions Improve for Another Week LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Is COVID-19 Going to Accelerate the Ghost Kitchen Craze? LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Data-Driven Decisions Will Help Restaurants Navigate COVID-19 Recovery LINK
  • Convenience Store News – How Consumers Shop for Snacks Shifts Amid COVID-19 LINK
  • NACS – 7-Eleven Offers Free Any-Size Coffee, Fountain Drinks LINK
  • NACS – C-Store Trips Erode in Mid-May LINK
  • NACS – Driving Food Safety Culture With Metrics LINK
  • NACS – Convenience Stores Ready to Serve Commuters LINK

May 26, 2020

SUMMARY: The SBA issued new interim final rules late Friday May 22 in order to help borrowers prepare and submit loan forgiveness applications under the guidelines of the PPP. Though there has been much criticism surrounding the eight week spending period and 75 percent payroll rule, the SBA did not address extending the forgiveness period to 12-24 weeks or relaxing regulations on how businesses can spend the money as many lawmakers and employers have suggested. Instead, the two new rules align with previous forgiveness guidelines, further defining what qualifies as payroll expenses and outlining lenders’ responsibilities in the forgiveness process as well as the SBA’s loan review procedure.

Although all 50 states are now in the phases of reopening, not all restaurateurs and franchisees are confident that business will be guaranteed financial survival as dine-in eating becomes a reality once more. The adjustments that restaurants will have to make as they reopen in response to COVID-19, whether temporary or more permanent, may have long-lasting impacts on expenditures and income that threaten to cause financial doom for restaurants not already faring incredibly well prior to the pandemic.

  • CBS News – Agency that runs Paycheck Protection Program won’t name borrowers LINK
  • CBS News – CEO offers advice for minority business owners struggling with PPP loans LINK
  • New York Times – Opinion | Can Anyone Save New York’s Bars and Restaurants? LINK
  • CNBC – NJ restaurant owner: Just because businesses can reopen does not mean they will survive LINK
  • CNBC – Robot waiters, mannequins and rooftop dining: How we’ll start to go to restaurants again LINK
  • PYMNTS – Why The Food Industry Has To Change What It Brings To The Dining Table LINK
  • National Law Review – SBA Releases New Rules on PPP Loan Forgiveness and Loan Reviews LINK
  • NACS – C-Store Restaurants Reopen With Care LINK
  • NACS – How to Future-Proof Business for Disruption LINK
  • NACS – C-Store Restaurants Reopen With Care LINK
  • NACS – NACS CSX Data Show Drop in Foodservice Sales LINK

May 21, 2020

SUMMARY: On Wednesday, the CDC released a 60-page guidance document for reopening nonessential businesses that had been shut down in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. The document notes that bars should remain closed and restaurants should be limited to drive-through, curbside take out or delivery in the first phase before reopening with limited capacity in the next phases.

As deadlines for forgiveness loom, the SBA is facing great pressure from government officials and business owners alike to revise PPP guidelines and relax current regulations regarding the amount of time businesses have to spend the funds and how they can spend them. A new survey by The National Federation of Independent Business reports that more than half of business owners who received funding through the PPP expect all expenses to be forgiven, and another 27% say they expect three-quarters of the loan to be forgiven under current guidelines. Further, findings show that “nearly three-fourths of small business borrowers find the terms and conditions of the PPP loan difficult to understand with 22% finding them very difficult.”

  • Bloomberg – To Reopen, Restaurants Are Doubling Down on Becoming Grocery Stores LINK
  • Bloomberg – McDonald’s Offers Aid and Warns Some Downsizing Needed LINK
  • CNBC – More than half of small businesses are looking to have PPP funds forgiven, survey says LINK
  • CNBC – CDC quietly releases detailed guidelines for reopening America LINK
  • Forbes – Good News For Small Businesses: Congress Could Extend PPP Loan Forgiveness Period LINK
  • Fortune – The new PPP loan forgiveness application is causing lots of confusion. Here’s what to know so far LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Dunkin’ adapts as coronavirus-era customers find new uses for the restaurants LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Noodles & Company leans on loyalty program during COVID-19 crisis LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Alltown Fresh Launches Four Contactless Ways to Shop for Groceries & Meals LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – QuickChek Opens New Fresh Convenience Market LINK
  • NACS – COVID-19 Speeds Robotic Delivery Improvements LINK
  • NACS – Kwik Trip’s ‘Retail Helpers’ Now Working in 75% of Stores LINK

May 20, 2020

SUMMARY: Yesterday the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee had Secretary Mnuchin and Chairman Powell of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, testify on CARES Act and PPP issues at a hearing entitled “The Quarterly CARES Act Report to Congress.” Secretary Mnuchin did not use his authority to require companies receiving taxpayer bailout money to keep workers on payroll.

Additionally, Republican leaders in Congress have said they are in no rush to work on another coronavirus relief package, despite many small businesses still not receiving or qualifying for loans. After Monday’s SBA deadline to return Paycheck Protection Program loan money, 14 more public companies say they are giving back their share. Furthermore, The House will vote on a bipartisan bill to fix the Paycheck Protection Program next week amid growing concern over its implementation.

  • New York Times – The New Face of Restaurant Hospitality Wears a Mask LINK
  • CNBC – Small business layoffs may have hit bottom: Study LINK
  • CNBC – 9 financial resources for women and minority business owners affected by the coronavirus LINK
  • Business Insider – Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said employees who turn down their old jobs can lose unemployment benefits under small business aid program LINK
  • Business Insider – Starbucks is launching its first color-changing cup after COVID-19 closures — but refills aren’t back on the menu yet. LINK
  • PYMNTS – More PPP Forgiveness Guidelines Unveiled, But Clarity Remains Elusive LINK
  • EATER NY – Scores of NYC’s Top Restaurants Are Reopening, But With Bated Breath LINK
  • National Geographic – These 5 foods show how coronavirus has disrupted supply chains LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – 6 workforce issues restaurant employers may face as they reopen LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – How 24 restaurant companies performed in their latest quarters as coronavirus restrictions swept the U.S. LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Memorial Day Pump Prices to Be Cheapest in 20 Years LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Snacking Soars as C-Stores Vie for Sales LINK
  • NACS – Innovating the Off-Premise Food Business LINK
  • NACS – Self-Serve Beverages at C-Stores Coming Back Online LINK

May 19, 2020

SUMMARY: Many restaurant brands, franchisees and independent operators remain hesitant to reopen their dining rooms as local mandates continue to roll out reopening plans. Bloomberg reports that McDonald’s franchise holders are choosing to keep their dining rooms closed for the near future, and that Raising Canes is keeping all of its dining rooms closed – even in states such as Georgia and Florida where they are legally permitted to reopen them. This undoubtedly comes both out of continued concern for the health of customers, as well as the fact that many fast food brands are seeing record-high sales from drive-thru and takeout, lessening a desire or need to completely reopen as soon as possible.

The SBA has released a new breakdown of PPP loans through May 16 with about $513.3 billion approved via 4.3 million loans during rounds one and two. That is $24 billion lower than the previously disclosed sum for the same period due on account of loan cancellations.

Yesterday, President Trump participated in a roundtable with restaurant industry executives to discuss the impact of coronavirus on business as well as reopening plans, much of the conversation focusing on the PPP. Attendees including Chef Thomas Keller and Panera Bread CEO Niren Chaudhary urged the president to ease restrictions on the loans, specifically suggesting an extension of the time frame for borrowers to spend the money and still have it forgiven from eight to 24 weeks, along with a call for flexibility for businesses to spend more than 25 percent of the funds on non-payroll expenses.

  • Reuters – Trump says should be possible to allow PPP borrowers more time to use loans LINK
  • Bloomberg – U.S. Fast-Food Chains Are in No Hurry to Reopen Dining Rooms LINK
  • Washington Post – Independent and chain restaurants press Trump on relief efforts at White House meeting LINK
  • Washington Post – Startups Decide It’s Easier to Skip PPP Money Than Decipher Rules LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Focus Brands CEO Jim Holthouser on how their ‘mall brands’ will change in the future LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Panera Bread introduces curbside pickup with technology that automatically alerts store when customers arrive LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – How the restaurant consumer will change in a post COVID-19 world LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Stewart’s Shops Helps Ease the Burden of Dairy Farmers LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Good to Go Looks Ahead During COVID-19 LINK

May 18, 2020

SUMMARY: The CDC released guidelines for reopening restaurant dining rooms and bars, advising operators to check with state and local health officials as well as other partners to determine the most appropriate actions to meet the unique needs of the local community. They also released a list of health and safety actions that must be in place, including intensified cleaning and disinfection, encouraging social distancing and enhanced spacing and having a plan in place for if an employee was to get sick.

There’s been a lot of chatter about restaurants suffering while third-party delivery providers are thriving, with many cities capping delivery fees. Additionally, there’s been mixed reactions on how customers will react to reopening. While it is evident customers had little hesitation in states that have lifted restrictions, such as Texas and South Carolina, there is still the worry that customers in other places will be slower to return, and that social distancing could kill restaurants.

On Friday, May 15, the Small Business Administration and Treasury released a Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness application. The application includes options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs, flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving their loan and instructions on how to perform the calculations to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness. The application also offers an exemption for businesses who have made “a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined.”

  • Wall Street Journal – U.S. Expected to Revise Small-Business Aid Program LINK
  • Reuters – Senator Rubio calls for fast action to extend U.S. payroll protection program LINK
  • Bloomberg – Fed Releases Loan Details on Paycheck Protection Facility LINK
  • CNBC – Local lawmakers provide struggling restaurants with temporary relief from food delivery fees LINK
  • CNBC – South Carolina Restaurateur: Reopenings “went phenomenal, people were antsy to get out” LINK
  • Fox Business – SBA releases coronavirus PPP loan forgiveness application LINK
  • Forbes – SBA Gives PPP Borrowers Good News – Forgiveness Application And Instructions Are Borrower Friendly LINK
  • Business Insider – The Drive-Thru: CEOs reveal how COVID-19 is changing business, inside the pandemic at McDonald’s, and Amazon opens ‘dark’ Whole Foods LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – CDC releases guidelines for reopening restaurant dining rooms and bars LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – 7 business opportunities revealed by the coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Meet the new socially distant restaurant experience LINK
  • Convenience Store News – AAA Eyes Memorial Day Travel Through COVID-19 Lens LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Kum & Go Launches Mobile Fuel Pay LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Guide to Food Safety During COVID-19 LINK

May 15, 2020

SUMMARY: On Thursday, the CDC released new guidance advising states on how to open bars, restaurants and workplaces. The CDC recommends a series of steps that should be taken to keep employees and customers safe, including encouraging hand-washing, social distancing and how to check for symptoms of potential Covid-19 cases.

As restaurants begin to open in accordance with state mandates, many operators are imposing a surcharge on bills as a way to combat the headwinds of reduced service across the industry and meat shortages/food supply issues which have caused distributors to raise prices.

Thursday marked the “safe harbor” deadline established by the Small Business Administration. According to the new guidelines, borrowers receiving a loan of less than $2 million will automatically be seen in good faith and will not be scrutinized by government audits. However, borrowers with loans above $2 million will be reviewed to see if they need to repay the loan. The update means that small business owners who may have previously been considering returning PPP funds should have fewer concerns about meeting the program’s need certification and should apply for a PPP loan without fear of retribution.

  • Wall Street Journal – McDonald’s Sets Conditions for Restaurant Reopenings LINK
  • The New York Times – Senators Question Lower Relief Loan Amounts for Small Businesses LINK
  • Bloomberg – CDC Posts Advice on Reopening U.S. Bars, Restaurants and Workplaces LINK
  • Bloomberg – McDonald’s Reopening Guide Reveals Restaurants’ New Complexities LINK
  • Bloomberg – Danny Meyer Expects His Dining Rooms to Remain Closed Until a Vaccine LINK
  • CNBC – Firms that took a PPP loan under $2 million are about to get a break LINK
  • CNBC – What to expect when restaurants open for sit-down service LINK
  • Fox News – ‘COVID-19 surcharge’: What it means and why restaurants are adopting it LINK
  • Forbes – Important Updates To The PPP May Equal More Money For Your Small Business LINK
  • Fortune – Eleventh-hour SBA guidance provides leniency for businesses deciding whether or not to return PPP loans LINK
  • Reuters – Nearly 75% of U.S. small businesses sought help via government PPP LINK
  • Business Insider – How to get your PPP loan forgiven, according to a business consultant who landed emergency funds for 15 clients LINK
  • Business Insider – This chart shows how restaurants will struggle even after they’re allowed to reopen LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Starbucks asks landlords for rent relief through summer 2021 LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Denny’s says about 82% of U.S. restaurants are back in operation LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Jack in the Box reports same-store sales down 4.2% during COVID-19-impacted Q2 but Q3 is in an upswing LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Cheesecake Factory sees large unit size as a reopening advantage LINK
  • Convenience Store News – GasBuddy: Cleanliness Significantly Impacting Consumer Ratings & Foot Traffic at C-stores LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – 7-Eleven Offers Ready-to-Bake Foodservice Options LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – C-Store Wine Sales Increase During COVID-19 LINK
  • NACS – Wawa Shares ‘New Ways for Old Friends’ LINK

May 14, 2020

SUMMARY: As of 5:00 PM last night, round two of the PPP has made nearly 2.7 million loans totaling $192.5 billion with an average loan value down to $71,679. With lawmakers and small business owners alike venting frustrations over loose SBA guidelines and unintentional consequences brought on by the program.

Senators Manchin, Romney, Leahy, Gardner and Wyden have proposed a new bill that would solve one of the top complaints and give PPP borrowers double the amount of time — 16 weeks — to spend loan money and still qualify for forgiveness.

In addition, Americans are preparing for a new sense of normal, which means the vast majority of restaurants are implementing extensive safety measures to ensure its employees and customers are safe during these uncertain times.

  • Wall Street Journal – Tyson Reduces Some Beef Prices as Coronavirus Pushes Grocery-Store Costs Higher LINK
  • CNBC – So your financial advisor took a PPP loan. Here’s what that means for you LINK
  • Bloomberg – Restaurants Are Rebounding — At Least Those With Carryout LINK
  • Forbes – The World’s Largest Food And Restaurant Companies In 2020 LINK
  • Forbes – Why This New Treasury Guidance Is Great News For PPP Loan Borrowers LINK
  • CNN Business – These small business owners got PPP loans, but they’re afraid to use the money LINK
  • MSNBC – Sen. Schumer: What was outlined in the House bill is ‘necessary and urgent’ LINK
  • ABC News – Much-anticipated ‘forgiveness’ guidelines for PPP loans set to be unveiled LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Socially distant dining: Here’s how reopened restaurants are updating operations LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurant Delivery – A Discussion About Handling It In-House Post COVID-19 LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Groceries, virtual cooking classes and more restaurant menu innovations that could be here to stay post-pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – New Uber Eats coronavirus safety protocols emphasize accountability of restaurants, consumers, drivers LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Where Technology Fits in the COVID-19 Response for Restaurants LINK
  • VICE Munchies – Chicago Now Requires Food Delivery Apps to Disclose Every Single Fee to Users LINK
  • Convenience Store News – C-stores See Lift in In-Store Category Performance LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Buc-ee’s Remains Top-Rated C-Store Brand During COVID-19 LINK
  • CSP Daily News – How COVID-19 Has Affected Gas-Station Foot Traffic LINK

May 13, 2020

SUMMARY: May continues to be a mixed bag in terms of unit performance for a number of brands. Nation’s Restaurant News reports that Biglari Holdings Inc. has announced that the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the closures of 57 Steak ‘n Shake units in Q1 2020. Although Potbelly’s same-store sales have gone from 68% down to only 45% down, Potbelly Corp. is reportedly considering closing down 100 of its units. On the other side of the spectrum, certain brands are seeing continued success due to delivery and takeout offerings. The Wall Street Journal cites Chipotle and Wingstop as two of the most dominant brands seeing increased sales with no major drive-thru presence, with the latter seeing sales 40% higher than in the last three months of 2019.

More brands are finding ways to support the restaurant industry as well as the healthcare industry as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Firehouse Subs has announced a new ‘Family Meal Deal,’ a new promotion that will provide a portion of proceeds to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation – an organization that provides life-saving equipment to emergency first-responders. Shake Shack also announced that it will be partnering with creative agency Circus Maximus for a new ‘Stay At Home’ social media series, providing customers with DIY instructions to craft their own Shake Shack-style meals at home.

Delivery has been the preferred method of getting food for countless Americans during the COVID-19 situation, and Uber has taken clear note of this. In response to the explosive performance of Grubhub during the ongoing, Uber is reportedly in talks to acquire the food delivery platform. News of this sent Grubhub shares skyrocketing as high as 25%, and Grubhub itself has yet to deny any of the rumors – a statement was released yesterday on behalf of the company, stating, “As we have consistently said, consolidation could make sense in our industry and, like any responsible company, we are always looking at value-enhancing opportunities.”

  • Wall Street Journal – Coronavirus Meat Shortages Have Plant-Based Food Makers’ Mouths Watering LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – What Doesn’t Kill Fast Food Makes It Stronger LINK
  • Business Insider – Burger King, Popeyes, and McDonald’s reopening dining rooms at hundreds of locations around America LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – California restaurant owner says furloughed employees won’t come back to work because they’re making $1,000 a week in unemployment LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Biglari closes 57 Steak ‘n Shake units permanently in Q1 LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Pie Five Reopens Dining Rooms with New Practices in Place LINK
  • QSR Magzine – Saladworks Kicks Off National Salad Month with Social Campaign LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Uber is apparently trying to buy Grubhub LINK
  • Convenience Store News – OSHA Provides Safety Tips for Food & Beverage Businesses Around Curbside Pickup & Takeout LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Gas Prices Fluctuate Across the Country as More States Reopen LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Coming Through for Customers and Employees LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – How To Prepare For When The Pandemic Ends LINK

May 12, 2020

SUMMARY: As restaurants begin reopening dining rooms with the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, Nation’s Restaurant News has reported consumers are showing pent-up demand for dine-in meal occasions, with “dining at my favorite sit-down restaurant” being the most popular post-lockdown activity, according to new data from Datassential. Companies are discussing how the food-service industry needs to change “for the foreseeable future and possibly forever” following COVID-19, with Restaurant Business International Inc. suggesting changes including more comfortable, reusable masks becoming part of a standard uniform, making improvements to drive thrus, keeping curbside pickup service a permanent option and spacing out seating inside restaurants regardless of local regulations.

Government relief payments and lifting of dine-in restrictions in states like Georgia, Florida, and Texas helped to improve U.S. restaurant chain transactions in the week ending May 3, according to The NPD Group. CREST Performance Alerts reports transactions are down 26% compared to a 32% decline the week prior. NPD also reported digital orders for restaurant meals increased by 63% and delivery orders by 67%, with QSR’s representing the majority of the increase. Additionally, QSR online ordering is showing a shift to more older adults orders and desktop user visits. Restaurants that have not reopened are continuing to look for ways to increase revenues, with several companies including FAT Brands partnering with ghost kitchens to help ramp up off premise offerings and sales.

  • Wall Street Journal – Four World-Famous Chefs on Where Destination Dining Will Go LINK
  • CNBC – Coronavirus live updates: Burger King dining rooms reopen, with changes; WHO sees promise in treatments LINK
  • CNBC – Pizza, fast food top takeout choices in US: Survey LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Pent-up demand grows as restaurants reopen in pandemic LINK
  • QSR Magazine – U.S. Transaction Declines Improve for Three Consecutive Weeks LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Inside the Restaurant World’s COVID-19 Response LINK
  • The Spoon – Report: Digital Orders and Delivery Driving Restaurant Sales, Full-Service Still Struggling LINK
  • QSR Web – QSR online ordering shifts show more older adults orders, desktop user visits LINK
  • QSR Web – Newly launched website helping restaurants cut third-party delivery LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Parker’s Donates More Than 7,000 KN95 Masks to Healthcare Providers LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Love’s Extends Pay Increase, Other Benefits Amid COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Rutter’s Donates Over $50,000 in Food and Beverages to Central Pennsylvania Food Bank LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Stewart’s Provides Relief to Dairy Producers and Customers LINK

May 11, 2020

SUMMARY: The number of job losses dramatically increased by 20.5 million in April, bringing the national unemployment rate to 14.7%, the largest monthly jump ever recorded, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector dropped by 7.7 million in April, with restaurants and bars accounting for almost three quarters of that decrease, equating to 5.5 million of the job losses.

As restaurants look to reopen, they may experience challenges rehiring staff as some former employees are making more money now due to an extra federal emergency payment of $600 weekly on top of state unemployment benefits. This is a stark contrast from the restaurant industry’s historically tight labor market. Restaurants may also require additional staff to manage ongoing sanitation and increased health and safety protocols which will be another challenge facing operators in the coming weeks.

Restaurants in Asia are providing U.S. owners with a model of how to reopen their dining rooms, with wider spacing between tables, customer temperature checks and masked wait staff. CNBC reports that Starbucks is emphasizing cashless payments and contactless and curbside pickup as it reopens locations with the foundation of its reopening approach coming from what the Company learned in China and its revised protocols.

  • New York Times – Pork Chops vs. People: Battling Coronavirus in an Iowa Meat Plant LINK
  • Bloomberg – Fear and Federal Aid Make It Hard for Restaurants to Staff Up LINK
  • Bloomberg – In Week Two of the Big Reopen, Half-Empty Bar Feels Like a Win LINK
  • CNBC – Here’s why restaurants reopening could be good news for summer jobs LINK
  • CNBC – Hardest-hit industries: Nearly half the leisure and hospitality jobs were lost in April LINK
  • CNBC – When will restaurants and bars reopen? Here’s what experts are saying LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – More states lift coronavirus-related dine-in restrictions with social distancing and limits on capacity LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Coronavirus-related restaurant and bar industry job losses totaled 5.5 million in April LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Ruth’s Chris is reopening dining rooms, using QR codes for reading menus LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Podcast: Position Your C-Store Chain to Thrive When the Pandemic Ends LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Yesway Partners With Acumera LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Casey’s Launches Summer Rewards Program LINK

May 8, 2020

SUMMARY: Grubhub announced that it had seen much-improved sales following a market-wide trend of consumers ordering food through delivery as opposed to carry out or sit down (where possible). BurgerFi appears to have taken note of the trend and has recently announced a partnership with Reef Kitchens in order to expand delivery services in a number of major U.S. cities. Wingstop and Papa John’s are two brands that have also seen large spikes in sales in the month of April, largely accredited to delivery services and promotions.

Additionally, even though more states inch closer towards restaurants reopening, the Wall Street Journal reports that not all restaurant employees would be willing and/or able to return to work, even if their place of work is open for business. Chick-fil-a announced plans to reopen a number of restaurants for carryout services, and Noodles & Company reportedly hopes to structure their reopening plans by gauging ‘cues’ from their customers.

A handful of brands have also announced both new programs and campaigns to support people affected by the COVID-19 situation, but also a number of milestones that have been reached in terms of supporting frontline healthcare workers. Chipotle, Erbert & Gerbert and Jamba are some of the latest to announce programs, with the former donating $250,000 in grants to support young farmers, and the latter two launching programs to provide healthcare workers with free food and meals. White Castle announced that it has provided healthcare workers with over $1 million in free meals since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and Saladworks announced that it has donated over 1,100 meals to healthcare workers to date.

  • Wall Street Journal – Grubhub’s Sales Improve as Customers Reach for Delivery LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Restaurants Reopen, but Not Everyone Is Coming Back to Work LINK
  • Bloomberg – Wendy’s Jumps After Reporting a Steady Recovery in Sales LINK
  • CNBC – Papa John’s CEO says April was the best month in company’s history LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Can restaurants mitigate the liability risk of operating during a pandemic? LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Chick-fil-A says some restaurants will reopen doors for carryout LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Noodles & Company will take ‘cues’ from customers on when to reopen dining rooms LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurant unit growth put on back burner, but some see post-COVID-19 real estate opportunity ahead LINK
  • Restaurant Business – April was one of the best months in Papa John’s history LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Jamba Introduces Whirl’d Of Good BOGO Program for Frontline Workers LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Saladworks Has Donated Over 1,145 Meals to Healthcare Workers LINK
  • QSR Magazine – White Castle Gives Healthcare Workers Over $1 Million in Free Meals LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Candy & Packaged Beverages Begin to See Positive Spend Numbers Return at C-stores LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Island Energy Services Offers Touch-Free Fueling LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Performance Food Group Cuts Nearly a Quarter of Its Workforce LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Forecasting the Foodservice Industry After COVID-19 LINK

May 7, 2020

SUMMARY: The restaurant industry continues to feel the effects of COVID-19 as brands fight to survive and drive sales. NPD Group reports that U.S. restaurant customer transactions declined by 41 percent in the week ending April 5 compared to the same week one year ago, following a 42 percent decline in the prior week ending March 29 suggesting the industry is bottoming out. Companies that have grown to serve the restaurant industry such as POS suppliers and distributors are impacted as well. NPD notes that this low point is likely due to the full effect of on-premise dining closures throughout the country and the industry’s collective ability to convert to off-premise models such as carry-out, delivery, and drive-thru.

There is a general feel that consumers want to protect the restaurants they know and love and show them support during these times. A group of New Yorkers sued GrubHub Inc., DoorDash Inc., Postmates Inc. and Uber Eats, accusing them of using their market power to stop restaurants from discounting meals to customers who order directly, despite it being less expensive for a restaurant to do that. Industry trade organizations are also doing their part to help restaurants.

  • Wall Street Journal – The Coronavirus Economic Reopening Will Be Fragile, Partial and Slow LINK
  • Bloomberg – GrubHub, Doordash Accused in Suit of Pushing Prices Higher LINK
  • Bloomberg – Grubhub Pulls 2020 Guidance After NYC Sales Hit; Shares Fall LINK
  • Fox Business – Coronavirus insurance coverage fight leads restaurants to threaten legal action LINK
  • TODAY – Panera, Subway and more selling groceries during coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Business Insider – Taco Bell is giving away free tacos, despite backlash from workers who fear the deal could increase their risk of catching the coronavirus from customers LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ step up coronavirus safety procedures for employees LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Grubhub’s relief plan for restaurant industry: reduce fees for consumers, not restaurants LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Large restaurant chains will more easily survive the pandemic LINK
  • Restaurant Business – As restaurants’ sales fall, vendors struggle, too LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Data Suggests Restaurant Sales Have Bottomed Out LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Chick-fil-A Strikes Delivery Partnership with Uber Eats LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Newk’s Eatery Launches Pantry Offerings LINK

May 6, 2020

SUMMARY: The largest concerns for reopening plans are: labor, health and safety and restaurant traffic. The Treasury Department has updated its guidance on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, noting employers will not be penalized if workers reject an offer to return to their job. The new guidelines, issued May 3, refer to the forgiveness aspect of the loans designed to help small businesses retain and rehire workers. The loan will be forgiven if at least 75% is used for payroll costs.

As meat shortages in the U.S. continues to escalate as a result of coronavirus-infected meat plants closing, companies like Wendy’s have been forced to limit menu items such as their signature fresh-beef hamburgers at some locations, and Shake Shack executives said they’ve seen a surge in beef prices in recent weeks. On the other end, Beyond Meat said sales have more than doubled in the latest quarter with increased demand from partners and retailers stocking up on the alternative meats as food supply chains faced disruptions because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With restaurants beginning to reopen, we are seeing many companies modify their restaurants to fit new guidelines. Shake Shack has created “Shack Track” stores, modifying select existing orders to add in drive-thru lanes and walk-up windows to accommodate social distancing requirements. The company also reported total revenue increased 8% during Q1, while same-Shack sales decreased 12.8%, primarily driven by reduced traffic caused by COVID-19. Foot traffic data analysis platform, placer.ai, has provided early data about foot traffic in the handful of states nationally that have fully or partially reopened restaurants over the past week, showing encouraging signs QSR’s may bounce back quickly.

  • Wall Street Journal – Meat Shortages Hit Wendy’s, Leaving Burgers Unavailable at Some Restaurants LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – CraftWorks Buyer Offers $45 Million Less After Pandemic Closures LINK
  • Bloomberg – Beyond Meat Maintains Rapid Growth Amid Restaurant Closures LINK
  • Bloomberg – Meal-Kit Business Booms in Lockdowns LINK
  • CNBC – Many restaurants would ‘shut down completely’ under Tennessee’s reopening guidelines, Jim Cramer says LINK
  • CNBC – Wendy’s shares jump after company reports US same-store sales picking up as customers return LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Treasury Department guidance on Paycheck Protection loans gives employers exemption if workers reject offer to be rehired LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Starbucks to reopen 85% of company stores the week of May 4 LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – App promotions, dollar deals and expanded delivery boost Del Taco during pandemic LINK
  • QSR Magazine – 3 Ways the Industry Will Change and How to Prepare Now LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Qdoba Sees a Bump During COVID-19 Pandemic LINK
  • QSR Magazine – GPS Hospitality Looks to Hire 1,500 Employees LINK
  • QSR Web – Early QSR reopening data shows quick ‘bounce-back’ potential LINK
  • Convenience Store News – GPM Will Host Hiring Event to Expedite Onboarding LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Pump Prices Inch Higher as States Begin to Reopen LINK
  • CSP Magazine – NATSO, IFA Offer Truckstop Food Updates LINK

May 5, 2020

SUMMARY: As states ease restrictions and restaurants start to reopen, the new normal for restaurant operators and consumers alike is becoming more clear. Restaurants are taking significant precautions to ensure the health and safety of guests in addition to adhering to local legislation and CDC guidelines. Some changes that restaurant operators are taking include temperature checks upon entry, dividers between tables, markers on the ground to encourage customers to keep their distance, increased use of electronic and contactless pay, disposable menus, masks and gloves for waitstaff and more.

Restaurants are also continuing to feel the effects of the national beef supply which is under pressure as meatpacking plants slow production or even shutter temporarily due to the COVID-19. CNBC reports that nearly a fifth of Wendy’s US restaurants are out of beef and Shake Shack notes that its beef prices are significantly higher. The US Department of Agriculture expects that meat prices for consumers will increase slightly in 2020 with beef prices forecasted to rise as much as 2%.

  • Wall Street Journal – Shake Shack Pauses Rapid Growth LINK
  • CNBC – Nearly a fifth of Wendy’s US restaurants are out of beef, analyst says LINK
  • Eater NY – What NYC Dining Might Look Like During Reopening, According to 14 Experts LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Taco Bell CEO Mark King: the COVID-19 crisis is ‘accelerating the future’ LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Tech Tracker: OpenTable and Resy offer reservation fee relief for restaurants reopening with limited seating LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Why pizza is the segment to beat as the restaurant industry looks to recover LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Texas Roadhouse’s pivot to off-premise helps restore sales LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – People on the move: 10 restaurant executives taking on new roles as restaurants begin to reopen following coronavirus LINK
  • QSR Magazine – What Customers Want from Restaurants as They Reopen LINK
  • QSR Web – Early QSR reopening data shows quick ‘bounce-back’ potential LINK
  • QSR Web – As states return to dine-in, slight improvement noted in restaurant sales LINK
  • QSR Web – From 5-pound burrito to Zoom party backgrounds, brands deliver Cinco de Mayo at home LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Retailers Increasingly Relying on In-Store Sales LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Casey’s Partners With Feeding America, Supports 52 Food Banks Across 16 States LINK

May 4, 2020

SUMMARY: Brands are testing out new ways to keep its employees and customers safe during the pandemic. As McDonald’s prepares to reopen dining rooms in the US, its European locations are testing out new safety measures amid the pandemic. McDonald’s Netherlands recently tested new features at a location in the Dutch city of Arnhem, including meal trolleys and designated waiting spots to separate customers. In addition, Dunkin’ adds curbside pickup and doubles its delivery footprint nationwide. Dunkin’ added curbside pickup to 1,000 non-drive thru locations, expanded delivery options, and gave incentives to use contactless ordering through the app. Curbside represents about 2 percent of transactions at those non-drive-thru units. Delivery, which doubled from 2,000 to 4,000 stores, now mixes 1.4 percent, with three times the average check.

For some restaurant brands, the pandemic has not only boosted brand awareness but has accelerated sales. Despite stay-at-home coronavirus orders broadly affecting U.S. restaurants in March, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen posted same-store sales growth of 29.2% in the market during the first quarter, parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc. reported Friday. Toronto-based RBI, which also owns the Burger King and Tim Hortons brands, said Popeyes’ bucked first-quarter industry trends on the strength of the chicken sandwich that was introduced last year. El Pollo Loco hits record-breaking delivery numbers in which drive-thru now accounts for 70% of sales. Before the pandemic, off-premises mixed 78 percent—45 percent drive-thru, 30 percent takeout, and 3 percent delivery. Once the pandemic hit, the company shifted its operating model like other restaurants (including the test of curbside pickup) and the off-premises business has responded exponentially.

  • Bloomberg – Reservations App Pivots to Fancy Takeout to Keep Restaurants Running LINK
  • Bloomberg – Americans Get Used to Pandemic Life, Easing Restaurant Pain LINK
  • Forbes – Why Food Delivery Companies May Be Doing More Harm Than Good, And How Restaurants Can Fix It LINK
  • Business Insider – McDonald’s designed a new type of restaurant for the coronavirus era in Europe — here’s what it’s like to visit LINK
  • Medium – The Coronavirus Puts Restaurants at the Mercy of the Tech Industry LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – 4 things: Jobless claims from Asian Americans in NYC up 6,900%; Pret a Manger reopens in NYC, sells groceries LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Taco Bell CEO Mark King: the COVID-19 crisis is ‘accelerating the future’ LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Working Lunch: Strikes, liability, supply-chain challenges surround restaurant reopenings LINK
  • QSR Web – Third-party delivery was on the rise pre-pandemic LINK
  • NACS – Kindness Abounds Within C-Store Community LINK
  • NACS – Convenience Retail Redefines Its ‘Normal’ LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Clipper Provides Face Masks, Thermometers to Companies in Need LINK

May 1, 2020

SUMMARY: As some states such as Florida continue to give some of their restaurants the ‘all-clear’ to reopen as soon as this coming Monday, they are doing so with a number of contingencies in place to ensure that people continue to remain healthy and safe, including limiting restaurants to only reopening 25% of their interior space, ensuring tables are spaced at least six feet apart, and permitting no more than 10 people to sit at a single table.

Despite these states attempting to take small steps towards normalcy, many brands are continuing to announce new plans and campaigns as they pivot to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Taco Bell, for example, announced that it would begin delivering at-home “Taco Bars” for Cinco de Mayo, allowing customers to make their own tacos and celebrate the holiday from the safety of their own home. Some brands also continue to find new success in the delivery landscape, with El Pollo Loco serving as the latest example. The Mexican-style fast casual announced that it had seen its delivery and online orders triple since the COVID-19 outbreak began, once again showing that customers will continue to support their favorite restaurants, even if they may not be doing it in person anymore.

Overall however, sentiment for the restaurant industry as a whole remains far from highly positive. McDonald’s saw a 17% drop in same-store sales and Dunkin’ Brands released a statement meant to alleviate concerns over its own sales decline and safety issues. Additionally, the food supply chain has been under tremendous strain, particularly with regard to beef. Restaurant Business reports that beef output is down 25% compared to last year, which has proven difficult for brands such as Wendy’s that rely on fresh beef as opposed to sourced frozen beef.

  • Wall Street Journal – McDonald’s Sales Fall as Coronavirus Pandemic Changes Dining Habits LINK
  • Bloomberg – Americans Get Used to Pandemic Life, Easing Restaurant Pain LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Dunkin’ Brands Group responds to sales decline and safety concerns LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – El Pollo Loco triples delivery, online order sales during COVID-19 pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – McDonald’s coronavirus recovery plan: Reboot sluggish breakfast sales, consider keeping limited menu LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Sweetgreen launches ‘Plates’ for dinner at restaurants in response to coronavirus LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Florida gives most restaurants a go-ahead to reopen Monday LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Raising Cane’s Supporting Healthcare Workers on the Frontlines LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Taco Bell Unveils At Home Taco Bar in Time for Cinco de Mayo LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Wahlburgers and Crescent Capital to Feed First Responders LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Thorntons Enhances Guest Safety at the Pump LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – CITGO Private Foundation to Award Up to $200,000 to Nonprofits as Part of Small Grants Program LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – NATSO Partners With IFA to Keep Drivers Informed on Food Options LINK

April 30, 2020

SUMMARY: A number of restaurants such as Applebee’s and IHOP opened for dine-in business this week in states like Georgia and Tennessee, with this number continuing to rise as restrictions relax in parts of Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah and Florida. As companies prepare to reopen during this challenging time, many are setting strict health and safety guidelines to ensure a smooth transition and create a secure environment for employees and guests alike. To aid restaurants in this process, Harri, an enterprise human capital management platform, launched a COVID-19 Employee Health Check Platform designed to efficiently survey a staff member’s health symptoms before entering the restaurant and starting their shift.

As some restaurants unveil plans to reopen, many will remain closed due to lack of funding. In an attempt to solve that problem, the Department of Treasury said that it will begin auditing any business that received more than $2 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Even with these efforts, there’s fear that this won’t alleviate the biggest issue at hand, which according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), is a lack of long-term aid.

Companies such as Chili’s parent, Brinker International Inc., reported earning about 57 percent of last year’s total sales in the week ended April 22 through off-premise sales alone, jumping about 20 percent in the last month as they adapt swiftly to the new normal. Similarly, fast-casual chain Salata Salad Kitchen celebrated a recent hike in sales with an 87.9 percent increase last week as it has expanded its business model to offer meal kits and subsidized delivery fees to help drive off-premise sales.

  • Forbes – Independent Restaurant Owners Call On Congress For Dedicated COVID-19 Aid LINK
  • Fortune – Restaurants are converting their spaces into retail stores to ride out the pandemic LINK
  • Bloomberg – Florida to Start Reopening on Monday With Restaurants, Retail LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Treasury Department to audit businesses that received more than $2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Applebee’s and IHOP reopen restaurant dining rooms in Georgia and Tennessee LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Chili’s parent Brinker claws back to 57% of last year’s weekly sales LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – States roll out reopening plans for restaurants, despite concerns LINK
  • QSR Magazine – BIBIBOP Asian Grill Unveils Reopening Plan LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Dunkin’ Introduces $2 Iced Mondays for Perks Members LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Sales Climb 90 Percent at Salata LINK
  • QSR Magazine ­- KFC to Provide $500,000 Worth of Groceries to Employees LINK
  • FSR Magazine – Harri Introduces COVID-19 Employee Health Check Platform LINK
  • Convenience Store News – FriendShip Fine-Tunes Its Supply Chain to Assist Local Hospitals, Homeless Shelters & More LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – General Mills to Manufacture, Donate $5 Million Worth of Food to Food Banks LINK

April 29, 2020

SUMMARY: As the U.S. begins making plans to reopen following the coronavirus pandemic, companies are also starting to vocalize their plans and what they believe the future of the restaurant industry will look like. Waffle House CEO anticipates operating with limited dine-in service and gradually welcoming more and more customers back.

Starbucks and Yum Brands both reported a drop in same-store sales, with Starbucks’ global same-store sales dropping 10% in its second quarter – the first downturn by that measure in nearly 11 years – and Taco Bell’s down 7% in its first quarter as a result of the pandemic. Starbucks has announced its plans to start reopening stores with limited service next week, and have 90% open by early June.

The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF) founded by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and Guy Fieri in March, has reached $20 million as of yesterday. The fund provides a one-time, $500 grant to restaurant workers to use within three weeks on housing, medical bills, student loans or other expenses, and has received 47,000 applications to date.

  • Wall Street Journal – Starbucks Logs First Quarterly Same-Store Sales Drop in 11 Years LINK
  • Bloomberg – Starbucks Sees Covid-19 Trimming Up to 25% of China 2020 Sales LINK
  • Bloomberg – Battered U.S. Restaurants Prep for Pricier Beef, Supply Squeeze LINK
  • Bloomberg – Delivery Hero Food Orders Almost Double During Lockdown LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurants Rise launches as new digital resource center, virtual event for restaurant, foodservice communities amid coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Starbucks plans to open 90% of U.S. stores by the beginning of June during coronavirus recovery phase LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Franchise group leans on parent IHOP brand in dining-room re-openings LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News ­- Guy Fieri and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s relief fund hits $20M and can now help 40,000 restaurant workers LINK
  • QSR Magazine – #TheGreatAmericanTakeout Asks Americans for a Superhero Salute LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Fresh Brothers to Honor Local Heroes on National Superhero Day LINK
  • Convenience Store News – C-store Suppliers Switch Gears to Meet Demand Driven by COVID-19 Pandemic LINK
  • Convenience Store News – NACS Advocates for Liability Legislation to Protect C-stores & Other Essential Businesses LINK
  • Convenience Store News – C-store Competitors Sheetz & Wawa Team Up to Fight Hunger Caused by Coronavirus Pandemic LINK
  • Convenience Store News – C-store Spending Gets a Boost From Federal Stimulus Checks LINK

April 28, 2020

SUMMARY: As states look toward reopening, the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry as a whole is coming into focus. Fox News reports the CDC has drafted proposed guidelines for a phased reopening of the economy as some states begin to lift stay-at-home orders and resume operations. For restaurants, the draft proposes that customers wait in their cars while waiting to be seated, and avoid the use of “buzzers,” switching to phone app technology when possible to alert patrons when their table is ready. It is also recommended that consumers avoid self-serve food and drink options such as buffets, salad bars and drink stations.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott laid out a two-phase plan for getting the state back to work starting on May 1 mandating that occupancy at these reopened businesses (including restaurants) will be limited to 25% in this first phase. Occupancy will ramp up to 50% in phase two slated to begin on May 18 which will then include bars.

Restaurants that are soon to reopen may take China’s lead in regards to ongoing health and safety rules and regulations. Restaurant owners in China still have precautions in place to protect the population including temperature checks and mandatory facial coverings, adapted floorplans, waivers, quarantine tracker wristbands, increased employee training, and messages of cleanliness.

  • Bloomberg – Texas Reopening Businesses on Friday With 25% Occupancy Limit LINK
  • Forbes – Setting The Scene: How The Restaurant Environment Is Changing During The Covid-19 Pandemic LINK
  • Forbes – Purpose Drives Innovation And Transformation For A Food Business During The Crisis LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurant re-openings: What American operators can learn from China as we enter the COVID-19 recovery stage LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Texas to allow restaurants to reopen at 25% of dine-in capacity LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Report: McDonald’s same-store sales improving, but still down in April LINK
  • QSR Web – Coronavirus relief checks easing restaurant transaction declines LINK

April 27, 2020

SUMMARY: With certain states reopening today, various restaurant chains are opening but with strict guidelines. Smokey Bones, a 61-unit full-service barbecue chain, is planning to open restaurants in Georgia this week and in eight other states by May 2. Though many restaurant companies are holding off reopening in Georgia, Smokey Bones CEO James O’Reilly said he wants to help get the economy restarted and his company is ready for a gradual return to some dine-in business. In addition, BJ’s Restaurant mentioned it is ready to reopen dining rooms once jurisdictions give the casual dining chain the green light. Other restaurant chains like Chick-fil-A have determined it would be best to take “additional time” to reopen dining rooms in states that are starting to ease restrictions.

Additionally, many restaurants are continuing to find ways to support healthcare workers as they face the COVID-19 situation on the front lines. Qdoba launched the Everyday Heroes Campaign and will be providing burritos to 10,000 heroes in hopes of adding some flavor to each hero’s day and recognizing their contributions during this time. Furthermore, Panera launched #SeeAPlateFillAPlate campaign to inspire Americans to donate and fill a plate for someone in need.

  • CNBC – Denver restaurant group owner: We’re still unsure of what “reopening” looks like in this new reality LINK
  • New York Times – Safe Dining? Hard to Imagine, but Many Restaurants Are Trying LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – States Reopen for Business, but Many Big Chains Sit It Out for Now LINK
  • Bloomberg – Closed Food Businesses, Restaurants Look for Ways to Carry On LINK
  • Bloomberg – World’s Biggest Wheat Supply Dries Up When Some Want It Most LINK
  • CNN – Meat processing plants across the US are closing due to the pandemic. Will consumers feel the impact? LINK
  • Forbes – With Georgia Diners Set To Reopen, Waffle House Braces For A Slow Recovery LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – California to reboot ‘ravaged’ restaurant industry with new meal delivery program for seniors LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – House sends $484 billion relief package to President’s desk LINK
  • QSR Web – Starbucks, Subway, McDonald’s expected to join Chinese digital currency pilot LINK
  • Convenience Store News – C-store Suppliers Switch Gears to Meet Demand Driven by COVID-19 Pandemic LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – ExxonMobil Outlines COVID-19 Response LINK
  • CSP Magazine – In-Store Sales Begin to Recover LINK

April 24, 2020

SUMMARY: The House passed another $480 billion in coronavirus relief aimed at small businesses. It now heads to President Trump’s desk, where he’s expected to sign it. Yesterday, Ruth’s Chris, Sweetgreen and Kura Sushi announced they will repay their federal small-business loan.

Additionally, many restaurants are continuing to find ways to support healthcare workers as they face the COVID-19 situation on the front lines. Jersey Mike’s announced they are donating 20 percent of their sales to Feeding America this weekend. Dickey’s franchisees announced their aim to pay it forward. One franchisee donated 6,000 pulled pork sandwiches to his local first responders after he partnered with local businesses looking ways to give back; one partnered to feed frontline responders in their area to show appreciation to the Gulf Coast regional medical staff and some partnered to give over 100,000 free pulled pork sandwiches to hundreds of local essential businesses, such as pharmacies, independent doctors’ offices and grocery chains, like Costco and Kroger.

On the delivery front, drivers for Grubhub Inc., Seamless and Domino’s Pizza Inc. have reported seeing a bump in gratuity from lockdown-abiding Americans. Starbucks also announced that they are preparing to reopen stores in the U.S. soon. Store openings will be carefully selected, and some Starbucks stores may allow for contactless pickup, while others will allow for to-go ordering even as dining rooms remain closed.

  • Wall Street Journal – Ruth’s Chris to Repay Federal Small-Business Loan LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – California Pizza Kitchen Seeks Restructuring Deal LINK
  • Bloomberg – We Really Needed This Pizza: Delivery Workers Report Higher Tips LINK
  • Washington Post – Two more chain restaurant are giving back small business funds LINK
  • Forbes – COVID-19 Is Expected To Be A Key Driver Of Acute Food Insecurity LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Trending this week: Starbucks preparing to reopen stores in the U.S. and more on how the restaurant industry will be changed by coronavirus LINK
  • Restaurant Business – With survival on the line, restaurants may rethink financing LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Jersey Mike’s to Donate 20 Percent of Sales to Feeding America this Weekend LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Sweets, Salty Snacks & Frozen Pizza Begin to Top Shopping Lists LINK
  • Convenience Store News – House Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Support C-store & Grocery Workers Through COVID-19 Crisis LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Refuel Acquires 48 Double Quick Stores LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Global Partners: ‘Morale Has Been Strong’ Amid Pandemic LINK
  • CSP Magazine – C-Stores Launch Food Donation Programs for COVID-19 Relief LINK

April 23, 2020

SUMMARY: Recent polls conducted by the National Restaurant Association and other organizations have shown that most restaurants will not be able or ready to “open up” along with the rest of the country. According to the polling, “Restaurants laid off, on average, 91 percent of their staff,” and “At least 16 percent of operators said that rehiring would be one of the biggest challenges.” This illustrates that while the world will ultimately get through the outbreak, restaurants will still have to face the incredible task of re-staffing their facilities after having to release a great number of employees.

Although Domino’s Pizza decided to withdraw their long-term outlook, the brand still saw a 7.1% increase in same-store sales. Concurrently, Bloomberg’s Leslie Patton published an article covering the fact that pizza delivery people are receiving much higher tips than usual, with one Domino’s franchise owner saying, “Tips are up about 18% for his mask-wearing drivers in March and April versus before the stay-at-home orders were issued.” 7-Eleven decided to jump into the direct-consumer market by launching a proprietary delivery app, 7NOW. Consumers will be able to order anything from a 7-Eleven store and expect to have it delivered to their door in 30 minutes or less.

  • Bloomberg – We Really Needed This Pizza: Delivery Workers Report Higher Tips LINK
  • CNBC – OpenTable data shows the absolute devastation in the restaurant industry LINK
  • Eater – Survey Says: Restaurants Won’t Be Ready to Open With Rest of the Country LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Commission-Free Online Solution for Restaurateurs Fighting COVID-19 LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Senior Vice President of Famous Dave’s, Al Hank, on how the brand’s new smaller footprint gave it a leg-up during the coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • QSR Magazine – 7-Eleven Launches a Delivery App LINK
  • Fast Casual – US Senate approves $484 B to shore up COVID-19 aid to businesses, hospitals LINK
  • Convenience Store News – QSR Declines Drive Restaurant Chain Customer Transactions Even Lower LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Legislation Proposes Tax Relief for Convenience and Grocery Workers LINK
  • CSP Magazine – QuickChek Pivots to Curbside Pickup Amid Pandemic LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Legislation Aimed at Helping C-Store Workers Weather Pandemic LINK

April 22, 2020

SUMMARY: As the restaurant industry continues to be impacted by the coronavirus, more states like Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina have become eager to reopen dining rooms and jumpstart their local economies. Concerns have risen following these relaxed orders with many pointing to how difficult it will be to mitigate the spread of the virus in restaurants should just one person be infected.

Based on a study from China that showed how one AC unit at a restaurant in Guangzhou infected nine people, Dr. Sanjay Gupta used a seating chart to demonstrate just how quickly the virus could spread if restaurants were to open their doors in the current state. With that being said, not all restaurants are slated to open anytime soon. While big chains like Pot Belly Corp. and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse have received millions in loans, smaller businesses face more uncertainty as they wait patiently for federal support. On Tuesday, Congress and the White House agreed to enhance the Paycheck Protection fund by $310 billion, with $125 billion allocated towards smaller businesses that may have missed the first round.

The government isn’t the only source of income some restaurants are receiving as Uber Eats customers have reportedly given $3 million in direct contributions to restaurants using a new feature on the app designed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants are in turn giving back to their communities with many companies continuing to roll out initiatives to support those in need during this time.

  • New York Times – Help Is On the Way, Restaurants Are Told. But Will It Work? LINK
  • CNN Health – Dr. Gupta shows spread of virus with a restaurant seating chart LINK
  • Business Insider – This picture shows how 9 people in a restaurant got the coronavirus thanks to the placement of an air conditioning unit LINK
  • TechCrunch – Uber Eats customers have given $3 million in direct contributions to restaurants LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Quarterly digital sales at Chipotle Mexican Grill reach record $372 million LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – McDonald’s Corp. and franchisees coordinate on reopening dining rooms, free meals for first responders LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Senate passes $484 billion coronavirus stimulus package that includes $310 billion to replenish small business loans LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Taco Bell turns headquarters into giant drive-thru for truckers LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee set to ease business restrictions LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – An early look at the impact of coronavirus on restaurant sales LINK
  • Convenience Store News – GoPuff Sees Customer Base Diversify Amid Coronavirus LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Tyson Foods Commits $13 Million in COVID-19 Hunger Relief, Community Support LINK
  • CSP Magazine – ExxonMobil Donates Masks and Meals to First Responders LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Global Partners’ Executive Team Discusses COVID-19 Measures and Outlook LINK

April 21, 2020

SUMMARY: Yesterday the Association announced a multi-pronged “Blueprint for Recovery” plan for restaurants that includes a $240 billion federal recovery fund. They are also asking Congress for a healthy restaurant tax credit to offset revenue losses tied to reopening dining rooms with limited capacity in order to maintain social distancing practices. The association reported the industry is on track to lose about $80 billion in revenue by the end of April with losses through the end of 2020 estimated to reach $240 billion, assuming a gradual reopening of the economy occurs in June.

Despite the hardships, many restaurants continue to announce initiatives to help employees and those working on the frontlines, with companies such as Chipotle announcing programs that donate meals to medical professional and Chick-Fil-A establishing a relief effort that will distribute $10.8M to local communities, including food donations or items to first responders, healthcare workers and Chick-Fil-A team members.

The Great American Takeout returns for its fifth installment today, this time encouraging Americans to have a picnic in the backyard or living room while supporting local restaurants.

  • Wall Street Journal – Shake Shack to Return $10 Million Coronavirus Stimulus Loan LINK
  • New York Times – ‘The Big Guys Get Bailed Out’: Restaurants Vie for Relief Funds LINK
  • Bloomberg – Restaurants in ‘Survival Mode’ Trim Down Their Menu Offerings LINK
  • CNBC – Restaurants describe huge shortfalls within government’s coronavirus relief programs LINK
  • CNBC – Insurers are denying coronavirus claims. Restaurants are fighting back LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurants to Congress: Don’t leave our industry behind LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Restaurants Press Congress for $240B in Industry-Specific Aid LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Restaurant Transactions Decline 43 Percent in Week Ending April 5 LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Picnic at Home with #TheGreatAmericanTakeout LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Cousins Subs Helping Feed Aurora Health Care Frontline Workers LINK
  • QSR Web – Restaurant chain transactions drop 43% 2nd week of April LINK
  • Fast Casual – Restaurants coming to the rescue amid COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store News – RaceTrac Introduces Online Ordering Platform LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Sheetz Adds Delivery Through Grubhub LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – 7-Eleven Offers Alcohol Delivery Through 7NOW App LINK

April 20, 2020

SUMMARY: More than a dozen publicly traded companies with revenue of more than $100 million received loans through the massive relief program aimed at small businesses. The $349 billion lending package for small business owners is now exhausted.
Hard-hit restaurants are also lobbying President Trump and Congress to press insurance companies to cover “business interruption” claims stemming from the coronavirus, even where restaurants have policies that exclude losses from pandemics.

Young Americans are eager to eat and drink out in public once again as research and opinion firm TruePublic found that with 55% willing to resume dining out immediately once COVID-19 lockdowns are lifted across the U.S. However, these consumers will still shy away from large public gatherings such as festivals and sporting events as well as international trips for a while longer.

While many look forward to dining out again, the post COVID-19 restaurant may look differently with some continuing the “restaurmart” model offering products in addition to food. Outlets including Forbes report that restaurants will take measures to prevent the spread of germs and future outbreaks such as having fewer tables to provide more distancing and leaning into more contactless technology options.

  • Wall Street Journal – Restaurants vs. Insurers Shapes Up as Main Event In D.C. Lobbying Fight LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – How Ruth’s Chris Got an Extra Helping of Small Business Aid Money LINK
  • Bloomberg – Shake Shack, Potbelly Among Chains Tapping Small-Biz Funds LINK
  • CNBC – Yes to brunch, no to Coachella. Here’s how younger Americans plan to spend after the coronavirus crisis LINK
  • NBC – Shake Shack returning $10 million government loan meant for small businesses LINK
  • Barron’s – Top Chefs Make Major Menu Shifts in Order to Serve Meals Amid Covid-19 LINK
  • CNN Business – Shake Shack, Ruth’s Chris and other chain restaurants got big PPP loans when small businesses couldn’t LINK
  • Business Insider – I’m a die-hard Taco Bell lover, but I refuse to order food from any chain restaurant during the pandemic. Here’s why. LINK
  • The Spoon – Curbside Bots and Contactless Everything: What the Post-Pandemic Restaurant Will Look Like LINK
  • CNN Business – Experts say it may be time for grocery stores to ban customers from coming inside because of Covid-19 LINK

April 17, 2020

SUMMARY: Yesterday, the Trump administration formally announced a three-phase plan for states to “reopen” as the curve of COVID-19 cases continues to flatten. As a result, Starbucks has subsequently announced plans to slowly reopen its cafes as local states allow. This marks one of the first major brands in the industry to announce a strategy involving returning to a state of normalcy, with more brands likely to follow suit in following days.

More and more restaurants are announcing plans and campaigns to support and give back to their customers and the healthcare industry at large. Jack in the Box announced a “Customer Appreciation Week,” in which the company will be offering a number of deals and promotions through their mobile app. Raising Canes announced that it would be streaming a number of concerts and musical performances online in order to provide entertainment for those sheltering in place. Pizza Hut, in addition to providing 10 million protective masks to its employees, announced that it would be expanding its contactless ordering and delivery by offering curbside pickup.

Saladworks launched its “Fives for Lives” campaign, in which consumers can donate $5 at a time in order to provide a free meal for a healthcare worker on the front lines. In line with supporting healthcare workers, Lyft has made a formal pivot towards delivery; the ridesharing app will now be delivering food and medical supplies to both consumers and healthcare workers.

  • CNBC – Starbucks is preparing to reopen cafes as local coronavirus conditions allow LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Dine Brands Global furloughs some office staff, freezes new hiring, in response to coronavirus LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Outback parent Bloomin’ Brands triples off-premise sales in March LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Pizza Hut expands contactless ordering with nationwide curbside pickup LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Small business loan funding for coronavirus relief runs out after only 14 days LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – White House coronavirus task force outlines phases for reopening restaurants, bars LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Jack in the Box to Celebrate Customer Appreciation Week LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Pizza Hut to Provide Over 10 Million Masks for Employees LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Raising Cane’s Launches ‘Cane’s In The Moment’ Campaign LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Saladworks Launches ‘Fives for Lives’ Campaign LINK
  • Fast Casual – Lyft pilots delivery service for food, health supplies amid COVID-19 outbreak LINK
  • Fast Casual – SBA runs out of COVID-19 relief money; lawmakers fight over refunding LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Wawa Dedicates This Year’s Founding Day to Everyday Heroes LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Tallying Up Tobacco Add-ons LINK

April 16, 2020

SUMMARY: A new study by Black Box Intelligence has shown a light at the end of the tunnel for some restaurants with signs indicating that the industry sales decline may have reached bottom in the last few weeks and is now experiencing a slow improvement. According to the data, same-store sales increased 4.7 % in the week ended April 5 compared to the week prior, although overall sales are down a comparative 62.3%.

Much of this improvement stems from creative initiatives and added services restaurants are offering to adapt to this time. For example, family bundles with higher ticket prices have become a popular option and a strategic way to increase cash flow. A new report from Punchh and Hathway shows that despite a massive drop in visits, average order volume is up, with weekly average order value rising 11% compared to the first half of March.

The President has formed Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, appointing nearly two dozen restaurant and beverage executives to a food-and-beverage focused panel to advise policy makers on economic recovery. Those appointed include the CEOs of McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway along with chefs and restauranteurs like Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud.

  • Forbes – Restaurant Brands Are Launching Higher-Ticket Family Meals To Ease Sales Declines LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Black Box notes signs of sales-trend bottom in coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Trump taps nearly 2 dozen food executives for ‘Economic Revival’ group LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Noodles & Company sees sales improve after adding curbside pickup to 75% of restaurants LINK
  • FSR Magazine – Golden Rule Charity Launches Multi-million-dollar Fundraising Initiative LINK
  • FSR Magazine – WhutsFree Offering Weekly Free Deal Platform at No Cost to Restaurants LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Stewart’s ESOP Accounts See 17.5% Growth LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Thorntons Thanks Medical Personnel With Doughnut Deliveries, Free Beverages LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Hy-Vee Fast & Fresh Offers Full-Service Fueling LINK

April 15, 2020

SUMMARY: The industry continues to deal with the impact of COVID-19 and the struggle to stay afloat and serve their communities. Foodservice Results and QSR Magazine newly released a 2020 Future of Fast Casual Report that has found the fast-casual restaurant industry’s growth slowed to a pedestrian 6.6% rate in 2019. Fast-casual restaurant growth, which represents $60 billion in annual U.S. restaurant sales, slowed dramatically from the previous decade, when growth exceeded 10% annually.

Instagram announced it’s partnering with ChowNow, a Los Angeles-based online ordering platform, to provide restaurants commission-free menu ordering. The “Order Food” button can be found on Instagram Stories, allowing for quick and easy ordering.

Restaurant companies are continuing to adapt their business operations to pivot to grocery pickup and delivery as well as meal kits, including Muscle Maker Grill, Tijuana Flats, Nathan’s Famous, Modern Market Eatery and Taziki’s Mediterranean Café. An increasing number of brands continue to donate meals to local healthcare workers, and CNBC reported ghost kitchens are hiring as the demand for off premise orders continues to skyrocket.

  • CNBC – Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, Uber Eats are sued over restaurant prices amid pandemic LINK
  • CNBC – Restaurants have laid off thousands in wake of coronavirus—but ghost kitchens are hiring LINK
  • CNBC – Delivering donated meals to coronavirus workers is helping keep these restaurants in business LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – 10 leadership lessons for a post-coronavirus world LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Tech Tracker: Instagram and ChowNow launch free online ordering for restaurants LINK
  • QSR Magazine – QSR Announces Fast Casual Report with Foodservice Results LINK
  • QSR Magazine – 13 Things That Could Change for Restaurants After COVID-19 LINK
  • QSR Magazine – 8 Strategies to Succeed in the Post-Lockdown World LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Why the Pandemic Could Create Investment Opportunities LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Pizza Hut to Donate Thousands of Pizzas and Books to Students LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Domino’s Looks to Contactless Payments for Employees LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Citi, &pizza to Feed Hospital Workers LINK
  • Fast Casual – Panera launches family feast deal LINK
  • Convenience Store News – U.S. Restaurant Transactions Decline by More Than 40% for Second Consecutive Week LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Poll: Three-Quarters of C-store Retailers Say COVID-19 Has Negatively Impacted Their Sales LINK
  • CSP Magazine – C-Store Industry Growth, Labor Strength and the Problem With Fuel LINK

April 14, 2020

SUMMARY: The restaurant industry continues to feel the effects of COVID-19 as brands fight to survive and drive sales. NPD Group reports that U.S. restaurant customer transactions declined by 41 percent in the week ending April 5 compared to the same week one year ago, following a 42 percent decline in the prior week ending March 29 suggesting the industry is bottoming out. Companies that have grown to serve the restaurant industry such as POS suppliers and distributors are impacted as well. NPD notes that this low point is likely due to the full effect of on-premise dining closures throughout the country and the industry’s collective ability to convert to off-premise models such as carry-out, delivery, and drive-thru.

There is a general feel that consumers want to protect the restaurants they know and love and show them support during these times. A group of New Yorkers sued GrubHub Inc., DoorDash Inc., Postmates Inc. and Uber Eats, accusing them of using their market power to stop restaurants from discounting meals to customers who order directly, despite it being less expensive for a restaurant to do that. Industry trade organizations are also doing their part to help restaurants.

  • Wall Street Journal – The Coronavirus Economic Reopening Will Be Fragile, Partial and Slow LINK
  • Bloomberg – GrubHub, Doordash Accused in Suit of Pushing Prices Higher LINK
  • Bloomberg – Grubhub Pulls 2020 Guidance After NYC Sales Hit; Shares Fall LINK
  • Fox Business – Coronavirus insurance coverage fight leads restaurants to threaten legal action LINK
  • TODAY – Panera, Subway and more selling groceries during coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Business Insider – Taco Bell is giving away free tacos, despite backlash from workers who fear the deal could increase their risk of catching the coronavirus from customers LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ step up coronavirus safety procedures for employees LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Grubhub’s relief plan for restaurant industry: reduce fees for consumers, not restaurants LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Large restaurant chains will more easily survive the pandemic LINK
  • Restaurant Business – As restaurants’ sales fall, vendors struggle, too LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Data Suggests Restaurant Sales Have Bottomed Out LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Chick-fil-A Strikes Delivery Partnership with Uber Eats LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Newk’s Eatery Launches Pantry Offerings LINK
  • QSR Web – McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Dunkin’ all amp up COVID-19 protection measures LINK
  • Convenience Store News – New Research Finds Six in 10 Consumers Have Decreased C-store Spending Since COVID-19 Outbreak LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Wawa Announces New Hours at N.J. Stores for High-Risk Groups LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Stewart’s Updates COVID-19 Response LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Del Monte Shares Tips for Getting the Most Out of Fresh Produce LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Kwik Chek Launches United Way Match Program LINK

April 13, 2020

SUMMARY: As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread throughout the nation, restaurants continue to make customers and employees health & safety their main mission. Various restaurants have increased measures and procedures to align with the CDC’s and FDA’s guidelines. KFC rapidly rolled out additional safety measures including temperature checks for employees and the installation of shields at the counter, where carryout orders continue inside the restaurant. In addition, Taco Bell introduced an enhanced seven step protocol throughout its U.S. restaurants “to improve upon restaurant health and safety amid the pandemic,” including contactless service and payment, sealed orders once completed, deep cleaning and more.

Tyson Food Service has joined forces with #TheGreatAmericanTakeout movement with a $25,000 commitment to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF) and a matching program for any Tyson employees who donate personally to the organization. The San Francisco-based on-demand prepared food delivery service, DoorDash, announced it would cut commission fees by 50% for independent restaurants; a move that will save local mom-and-pop restaurants thousands of dollars over the next several weeks.

Lastly, restaurants and beverage companies are finding unique ways to make living in the pandemic easier for the unemployed and their families. Partnering with The Greg Hill Foundation, Samuel Adams launched the Restaurant Strong Fund, which offers $1,000 to restaurant workers in 20 states, including California, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Texas and Vermont. The Boston-based brewery started the fund mid-March in its hometown of Massachusetts, but expanded it to more states after seeing its success. Samuel Adams has donated over $2 million to kick-start the fund. As of Sunday afternoon, the fund has raised nearly $2.7 million, according to the website.

  • CNBC – Amazon stops accepting new online grocery customers amid surging demand LINK
  • CNBC – How restaurants plan to survive widespread layoffs from the coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • New York Times – The Farm-to-Table Connection Comes Undone LINK
  • Business Insider – Coronavirus could irreversibly change restaurants, with experts predicting customer temperature checks and new fears of crowds LINK
  • Business Insider – Fast-food workers have been plagued by low-pay, racism and limited sick leave. But now, America is finally paying attention LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – KFC to provide employees masks, perform temperature checks LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Tyson Foodservice Joins #TheGreatAmericanTakeout Movement LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Workers at McDonald’s and other quick-service restaurants strike for protective gear, higher pay and sick leave as they face exposure to coronavirus LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – DoorDash cuts commission fees by 50% for independent restaurants LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Taco Bell to Implement 7 Enhanced Safety Steps Nationwide LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Dunkin’ has Franchisees, Employees Retake Food Safety Courses LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Starbucks was Preparing for the Coronavirus in February LINK
  • QSR Magazine – 16.8 Million Have Filed for Unemployment in Three Weeks LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Restaurants Warn Congress They Need More Funding LINK
  • NY Daily News – Samuel Adams offering $1,000 grants to unemployed service industry workers LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Industry Coalition Calls for Federal Help to Keep Food Options Open for Trucking Community LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Urban Stores Are Meeting the Demand for Convenience Items LINK

April 10, 2020

SUMMARY: As the COVID-19 situation continues on, restaurants find themselves unable to escape the infrequent ups and massive drops that seem to come with the new pandemic climate. Speaking towards the latter, McDonald’s global same-store sales dropped 22% in the month of March due to COVID-19. Panera Bread also has seen plummeting sales, but has decided to make a significant pivot in order to stay afloat, announcing that they would begin selling groceries in addition to their regular menu of fast casual food items. The FDA just suspended its menu labeling rules, clearing the way for restaurants to tweak their takeout and delivery items without risk of sanction, Panera undoubtedly benefits from the loosening of the rules.

Many restaurants are continuing to find ways to support their employees, as well as healthcare workers as they face the COVID-19 situation on the front lines. Starbucks donated $10 million in grants to support employees that have been affected by the pandemic. Noodles & Company, White Castle and Steak ‘n Shake have announced plans to give away free food to healthcare workers as they continue to support patients and combat the pandemic.

Restaurants have also been trying to find new avenues and demographics to tap into as same-store sales slide across the board – namely, parents and families. A number of restaurants have begun offering “Family Meal Bundles” in order to pivot towards being the place parents go to buy entire meals for their families, as opposed to ordering one or two items a la carte.

  • CNBC – McDonald’s global same-store sales down 22% in March as coronavirus pandemic shuts dining areas LINK
  • CNBC – Panera Bread is selling groceries as restaurant sales plummet LINK
  • USA Today – Need toilet paper or eggs? You might be able to find these in-demand items at restaurants amid COVID-19 LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Panera Bread starts selling groceries in wake of coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Tilman Fertitta seeks added $250 million to shore up liquidity amid coronavirus LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Jack in the Box Launches Family Meal Bundles LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Noodles & Company Giving Back to Healthcare Workers with New Family Meals LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Steak ‘n Shake is Giving Away Fries to Everybody LINK
  • QSR Magazine – White Castle to Give Healthcare Workers Free Meals LINK
  • Restaurant Business – FDA suspends menu-labeling rules LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Operators look to kids meals to drive sales amid COVID-19 crisis LINK
  • Fast Casual – Following COVID-19: How the virus is affecting the fast casual industry LINK
  • Fast Casual – Zaxby’s, Bruegger’s Bagels go the family route LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Kum & Go Pilots Two New Programs to Give Customers More Fueling & Buying Options LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Sweet Snacks Appeal With Healthy & Indulgent Options LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Marathon Petroleum Donates Equipment, Contributes $1 Million to American Red Cross LINK

April 9, 2020

SUMMARY: As the COVID-19 situation continues on, restaurants find themselves unable to escape the infrequent ups and massive drops that seem to come with the new pandemic climate. Speaking towards the latter, McDonald’s global same-store sales dropped 22% in the month of March due to COVID-19. Panera Bread also has seen plummeting sales, but has decided to make a significant pivot in order to stay afloat, announcing that they would begin selling groceries in addition to their regular menu of fast casual food items. The FDA just suspended its menu labeling rules, clearing the way for restaurants to tweak their takeout and delivery items without risk of sanction, Panera undoubtedly benefits from the loosening of the rules.

Many restaurants are continuing to find ways to support their employees, as well as healthcare workers as they face the COVID-19 situation on the front lines. Starbucks donated $10 million in grants to support employees that have been affected by the pandemic. Noodles & Company, White Castle and Steak ‘n Shake have announced plans to give away free food to healthcare workers as they continue to support patients and combat the pandemic.

Restaurants have also been trying to find new avenues and demographics to tap into as same-store sales slide across the board – namely, parents and families. A number of restaurants have begun offering “Family Meal Bundles” in order to pivot towards being the place parents go to buy entire meals for their families, as opposed to ordering one or two items a la carte.

  • CNBC – McDonald’s global same-store sales down 22% in March as coronavirus pandemic shuts dining areas LINK
  • CNBC – Panera Bread is selling groceries as restaurant sales plummet LINK
  • USA Today – Need toilet paper or eggs? You might be able to find these in-demand items at restaurants amid COVID-19 LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Panera Bread starts selling groceries in wake of coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Tilman Fertitta seeks added $250 million to shore up liquidity amid coronavirus LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Jack in the Box Launches Family Meal Bundles LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Noodles & Company Giving Back to Healthcare Workers with New Family Meals LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Steak ‘n Shake is Giving Away Fries to Everybody LINK
  • QSR Magazine – White Castle to Give Healthcare Workers Free Meals LINK
  • Restaurant Business – FDA suspends menu-labeling rules LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Operators look to kids meals to drive sales amid COVID-19 crisis LINK
  • Fast Casual – Following COVID-19: How the virus is affecting the fast casual industry LINK
  • Fast Casual – Zaxby’s, Bruegger’s Bagels go the family route LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Kum & Go Pilots Two New Programs to Give Customers More Fueling & Buying Options LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Sweet Snacks Appeal With Healthy & Indulgent Options LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Marathon Petroleum Donates Equipment, Contributes $1 Million to American Red Cross LINK

April 8, 2020

SUMMARY: Restaurants continue to struggle through the coronavirus pandemic as they are forced to rely on off-premise sales to drive business. Some leaders in the restaurant industry predict a rocky foreseeable future for the industry as a whole. Union Square Hospitality Group Chairman and CEO Danny Meyer says June is an unrealistic goal for restaurants to be back in full force, prompting amendments to the current stimulus package.

The coronavirus is not only impacting the restaurants themselves but affecting the entire supply chain within the industry and beyond. Restaurant software provider, Toast, has had to cut 50% of its staff as restaurants across the country are forced to close. Farmers that supply the food to restaurants are losing business as demand weakens, and food banks that rely on extra produce from catering companies, hotels and restaurants are struggling with shortages.

Many restaurants continue to step up and support their employees and others in need during this time. Grecian Delight Foods, Inc. has donated 25,000 pounds to The Salvation Army in Illinois while Buffalo Wild Wings and Arby’s parent company, Inspire Brands, has formed a $1 million COVID-19 relief fund to assist industry aid efforts and combat childhood hunger.

  • CNBC – Restaurant software provider Toast cuts 50% of staff as coronavirus forces eateries to close LINK
  • CNBC – Panera Bread is selling groceries as restaurant sales plummet LINK
  • Forbes – Coronavirus Is Threatening The Entire Restaurant Supply Chain: ‘Times Like This Show How Interconnected We Are’ LINK
  • Washington Post – The Cares Act was supposed to help save small businesses, but independent restaurants remain in dire straits LINK
  • Yahoo! Finance – Danny Meyer: ‘Restaurants are not going to be back full force by June’ LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Denny’s Corp. says quarterly same store sales fell 6% LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Bars and restaurants get creative with drink sales in the wake of coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Grecian Delight donates 25,000 lbs. of food to COVID-19 relief efforts LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – How Wingstop is growing sales during the pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Subway testing ‘Subway Grocery’ in 100 Southern California restaurants LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Where restaurant workers can get financial help during the coronavirus crisis LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Inspire brands forms a $1M relief fund LINK
  • QSR Magazine – MTY Food Group Closes 2,100 Stores, Cuts Workforce in Half LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Kum & Go Launches Full-Service Fuel and Curbside Pick-Up in Des Moines LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Casey’s Expands DoorDash Partnership LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – BP Offers Fuel Discounts, Free Food and Drinks to Medical Personnel LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Gas Demand Plummets Across the U.S. LINK

April 7, 2020

SUMMARY: Restaurants are continuing to grapple with switching their entire business model to off premise. NPD’s latest report found customer transactions fell 42% across all segments. The group’s restaurant census, ReCount, found about 97% of U.S. restaurants are under some level of restrictions at the state and city levels and carry-out now represents the largest dollar share at 53% of off-premise modes, with drive-thru providing 38% and delivery 9%. As the forced shift proceeds, the fissures between restaurants and third-party delivery companies are becoming even more pronounced.

Additionally, there is talk about how Coronavirus could irreversibly change restaurants, with experts predicting customer temperature checks and new fears of crowds. Similarly, Chefs and restaurateurs continue to argue that new SBA loans don’t protect the longsuffering restaurant industry.

The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation’s coronavirus employee relief fund application was so popular that the website crashed shortly after launching on April 2nd. Additionally, the CARES Act, which was signed into law at the end of March, contains a wealth of provisions to help U.S. companies weather the financial losses caused by COVID-19, including new loan programs that vary depending on a company’s size. While the provisions are designed to benefit companies with less than 500 employees, the bill also provides relief to companies with 500 to 10,000 employees, along with new unemployment and tax benefits.

  • CNBC – Chef & restaurateur Wolfgang Puck on restaurant industry in the age of coronavirus LINK
  • CNBC – Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on coronavirus impact on restaurants LINK
  • Business Insider – Coronavirus could irreversibly change restaurants, with experts predicting customer temperature checks and new fears of crowds LINK
  • Fortune – Chefs and restaurateurs argue new SBA loans don’t protect the beleaguered restaurant industry LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation’s coronavirus employee relief fund was so popular that it crashed almost immediately after applications opened LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurant transactions fall 42% in week ended March 29, NPD says LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – TGI Fridays’ plans to go public collapse in wake of coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Pandemic puts Tensions Between Restaurants and Third-Party Delivery in Crosshairs LINK
  • QSR Web – How the CARES Act can help large restaurant brands LINK
  • QSR Web – Third ‘Takeout Tuesday’ moves to top others with major prizes LINK
  • Fast Casual – Restaurants coming to the rescue amid COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store News – How C-stores Are Coping With the Daily Challenges of COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Wawa Donates $141,000 to Nonprofits and Food Banks LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Casey’s Issues Financial Update Amid COVID-19 LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Pandemic Prompts More Hiring in the C-Store Industry LINK
  • CSP Magazine – 5 C-Stores Upping Their Delivery, Curbside Pick-Up Game Amid COVID-19 LINK

April 6, 2020

SUMMARY: As restaurants continue to feel the impact of COVID-19, restaurant brands big and small are leaning into governmental aid. The Paycheck Protection Program is aimed at businesses with 500 or fewer employees, but language in the $2 trillion federal stimulus bill allows big restaurant and hotel chains to participate regardless of how many people they employ.

Despite the challenges COVID-19 presents, restaurant brands are coming together like never before to serve local healthcare workers and their communities as a whole. Chicago-based McDonalds is donating 1 million N-95 masks to healthcare professionals and first responders in the state. Additionally, Domino’s recently announced that it will be donating 200 pizzas in each community its company-owned brands and franchisees operate.

However, some efforts including those of Grubhub and Seamless have come under fire as TechCrunch reports that Grubhub’s “Support for Support” program is strongarming client restaurants into giving customers a discount, but charging restaurants their platform commission fee on the pre-discount total. This program follows another relief program from the company which only defers fees, without reducing them — unlike Doordash/Caviar — and requires restaurants to remain on GrubHub for a full year.

  • Wall Street Journal – Big Restaurant, Hotel Chains Won Exemption to Get Small Business Loans LINK
  • CNBC – Grubhub CEO on how the company plans to help restaurants, drivers through crisis LINK
  • Forbes – Open For Takeout: Part 1: A Restaurant’s Journey Through The COVID-19 Pandemic LINK
  • The National Law Review – Wage and Hour Roundup: Using “Relief” Workers During the COVID-19 Crisis LINK
  • New York Post – NY’s restaurants, and America’s, need to hold on until the lockdowns end LINK
  • New York Post – NYC restaurants feeding health workers on front lines of coronavirus fight LINK
  • Thrillist – One DC Restaurant Group’s Nimble Strategy to Pay its Employees During COVID-19 LINK
  • TechCrunch – GrubHub/Seamless’s pandemic initiatives are predatory and exploitative, and it’s time to stop using them LINK
  • Digiday – How food publishers are giving back to the restaurant industry LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Domino’s to Give Away 10 Million Pizzas to Local Communities LINK
  • QSR Web – McDonald’s donates 1M N95 masks to Illinois’ fight against COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Daily’s Provides Care Packages to Those Impacted by COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Grecian Delight Donates 25,000 Pounds of Food to COVID-19 Relief Efforts LINK

April 3, 2020

SUMMARY: As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread throughout the nation, restaurants continue to feel the effects and fallout of a worldwide pandemic. Many fast-food chains that are still open have pivoted towards only allowing consumers to order take-out or delivery, food delivery apps are pivoting concurrently in order to remain agile and useful in the current pandemic climate, both in terms of business changes and corporate social responsibility.

Overall, the biggest impact towards restaurants as of now seems to be the fact that consumers are simply unable to go to their go-to chains given that many of them are attempting to shelter-in-place, either voluntarily or due to state mandate. That being said, corporate social responsibility is at the forefront, with companies like Starbucks and Grubhub making major donations to both the healthcare industry and independent restauranteurs respectively, highlighting the role of large brands as well as the heightened prominence of food delivery services and apps in the face of the pandemic crisis.

  • CNBC – Toilet paper, gloves, bottled water: Restaurants tack on extras to takeout orders LINK
  • CNBC – Chipotle is working on a gift card program to support health-care workers through the coronavirus epidemic LINK
  • CNBC – Chipotle CEO says the chain is developing brisket but new menu items on hold for now LINK
  • The Verge – Uber Eats is adding an in-app donate button for restaurants LINK
  • CNET – DoorDash is reportedly sending drivers to closed restaurants LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Is now the right time to start a virtual restaurant? It’s complicated LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Dave & Buster’s, with all 137 venues shut, warns of SEC filing delay LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Coronavirus toll on Shake Shack: 29% plunge in same-store sales, 20% cut in corporate staff LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – McDonald’s will screen employees before they start shifts as a ‘precautionary’ measure LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Shaun Garcia adapts to coronavirus by offering comfort food to go from Soby’s LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s parent company lays off workers LINK
  • QSR Magazine – ComplianceMate Unveils Free App for Foodservice Companies LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Dunkin’ Extends Free Donut Fridays through April LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Nando’s PERi-PERi to Stay Open, Employ 2,600 People LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Starbucks Foundation Donates $3 Million for COVID-19 Relief Efforts LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Sweetgreen, World Central Kitchen Look to Feed Medical Personnel LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Wendy’s to Give Employees at Corporate Stores 10 Percent Boost LINK
  • Fast Casual – New protocol, food safety tools audit restaurant COVID-19 practices LINK
  • Fast Casual – Grubhub spending $30M to help independent restaurants LINK
  • Fast Casual – Shake Shack sales drop 29% LINK
  • Fast Casual – Shake Shack launches DIY burger kits LINK
  • Convenience Store News – More Than Half of Convenience Retailers See Their Grocery Sales Rise Amid COVID-19 Crisis LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Pilot Co. Debuts Push4Points Program to Reward Professional Truck Drivers LINK
  • Convenience Store News – C-store Chains Launch Free Meal Programs for Local Families in Need LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – 7-Eleven Donates 1 Million Masks Amid COVID-19 Shortage LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Key Takeaways From CStore Decisions’ Webinar on COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Kwik Chek Adapts During COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Open Pantry Protects Employees During COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Sheetz Provides Free Meals to Kids in Need LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – DoorDash Launches ‘Convenience’ Category LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Cumberland Farms Offers Free Coffee to Healthcare Workers LINK

April 2, 2020

SUMMARY: Companies are shifting business models and implementing creative initiatives to boost consumer sales and support the industry as a whole.

Restaurants have also continued to step up to provide aid to those in need during this challenging time. Just Salad has partnered with Mount Sinai to deliver 10,000 meals a week to seven hospitals across New York. Coolgreens has launched “Salads of Hope,” pledging to donate one salad to a local hospital in Oklahoma City and Tulsa for every salad purchased at their stores through April 12. Local Firehouse Subs owners have partnered with the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation to donate more than 9,000 subs to firefighters, police officers and healthcare workers nationwide as well as individuals and families in need. Taco Bell and Chipotle have also pitched in, donating $1 million to No Kid Hungry and trays of burritos to hospitals respectively.

With estimated losses of $225 billion, the National Restaurant Association has concerns that the Administration’s CARES Act will not support the restaurant industry sufficiently. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, the NRA suggested amendments to a variety of initiatives including the paycheck protection program, eligibility for loan forgiveness and exemption for re-hires.

  • Wall Street Journal – Bankrupt Restaurant Operator CraftWorks Fires Nearly All Its 18,000 Workers LINK
  • Bloomberg – Credit Cards Rework Offers Amid Travel, Restaurant Spending Drop LINK
  • CNBC – Selling tech to restaurants made Toast a $5 billion start-up — a month later, the coronavirus struck LINK
  • Forbes – Grubhub Offers ‘Free Exposure’ To Restaurants Struggling To Survive Covid-19 Closures, But It Comes With A 3% Rate Increase LINK
  • Business Insider – RESTAURANT APOCALYPSE: One in 5 restaurants in the US could permanently close because of the coronavirus pandemic, putting millions out of work LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Red Robin doubles off-premise sales amid coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Despite coronavirus, new restaurants open — and older locations reopen — their doors LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – How Taco Bell, Chipotle, Just Salad and more restaurant chains are helping healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Restaurant Business – How restaurants can survive as their sales plunge LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Operators get creative with loosened off-premise alcohol laws LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Coolgreens Unveils ‘Salads of Hope’ Initiative LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Moe’s Selling Bulk Food Through ‘Moe’s Market’ LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Firehouse Subs Donates 9,000 Subs to People in Need LINK
  • QSR Magazine ­- What Restaurants Would Like to See Changed in the Relief Bill LINK
  • QSR Web – Contactless Ordering, and Other Tips to Navigate COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Prepaid Cards’ Popularity Continues to Increase LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Dash In Provides $200,000 in Unrestricted Grants to Mid-Atlantic Food Banks LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Enmarket Increases Hourly Wages, Installs Plexiglass Shields LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Key Takeaways From CStore Decisions’ Webinar on COVID-19 LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Conagra Brands Gives Employees Bonuses LINK

April 1, 2020

SUMMARY: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to largely impact the restaurant industry and additional restaurants are forced to close locations, furlough or let go employees, pizza companies including Papa John’s and Domino’s Pizza are expecting positive same-store sales growth during the first quarter.

Allset, a service which lets customers pre-order at restaurants, closed a series B funding round raising $8.25 million, valuing it at more than $55 million. It’s now raised $16.6 million to date.

Restaurant companies continue to take wide-ranging measures to support franchisees and employees, with an increasing numbers of brands waiving royalty fees, including Barberitos, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Firehouse Subs, Gyroville, Muscle Maker Grill, Qdoba and Schlotzsky’s.

  • Wall Street Journal – A Smart Guide to Restaurant Takeout LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Domino’s Shows Even Coronavirus Standouts Face Pressure LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Coronavirus Lockdowns Prompt Smaller Restaurants to Rethink Delivery LINK
  • Bloomberg – Bars Crater and Grocers Boom, Showing Huge Mismatch in U.S. Jobs LINK
  • Bloomberg – Food Ordering Startup Raises Funds as Restaurants Adopt Takeout LINK
  • Bloomberg – Meal Kits Are the Next Best Thing in Covid-19 Pandemic LINK
  • CNBC – Papa John’s stock jumps, Domino’s shares fall as pizza chains share first-quarter sales estimates LINK
  • CNBC – Restaurant Brands International CEO on safety procedures, future of the industry LINK
  • Forbes – As COVID-19 Ravages The Restaurant Industry, Silicon Valley Pumps $8 Million Into This Dining And Takeout Startup LINK
  • Fortune – Left with tons of premium food amid coronavirus shutdown, restaurant suppliers turn to consumers to stay afloat LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Grocery and restaurant brands forge partnerships amid widespread foodservice layoffs LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – How to deal with landlords in the COVID-19 pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Here’s what your restaurant business insurance may (or may not) cover during the coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Domino’s reports Q1 same-store sales growth and withdraws financial guidance during COVID-19 LINK
  • QSR Magazine – How Restaurants Can Collaborate with Landlords to Secure Rent Relief LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Chipotle to Give Healthcare Facilities Free Burrito Boxes LINK
  • QSR Magazine – West Liberty Partners with Subway to Feed Employees LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Boston Market Serving Up Take-Home Easter Dinner Options LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Papa John’s Sees Steady Sales Amid COVID-19 Outbreak LINK
  • QSR Web – KFC sends 1M chicken pieces to operators for community donations LINK
  • QSR Web – 5 ways QSRs can build a bridge to the ‘other side’ of COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Couche-Tard Announces Emergency Measures Against COVID-19 Pandemic LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Pinnacle’s Affiniti Mobile Ordering Offers Social Distancing Solution LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – FDA Requests 120-Day PMTA Deadline Delay LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Developing a COVID-19 Response Plan for Your Convenience Store LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – 7-Eleven Donates 1 Million Masks Amid COVID-19 Shortage LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Casey’s Offers Employees Additional $2 Per Hour, Updates Store Hours LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – High’s Issues COVID-19 Response, Provides Free Beverage to Medical Personnel LINK

March 31, 2020

SUMMARY: The ongoing pandemic continues to impact the industry causing additional restaurant closures and layoffs. NPD estimates that mandated restaurant dine-in closures that took effect in most states beginning the week ending March 22 caused restaurant customer transactions to decline by 36 percent compared to same week a year ago.

Major restaurant companies are taking extensive measures to support franchisees and employees with Restaurant Brands International sending about $70 million in cash advances and rebates to North American franchisees and Yum Brands CEO David Gibbs forgoing the rest of his 2020 base salary to put money behind the company’s general managers.

  • Wall Street Journal – CraftWorks to Shed More Than Half Its Restaurants Amid Coronavirus Outbreak LINK
  • New York Times – These Days, Even a Michelin Star Chef Has to Sell Takeout LINK
  • CNBC – Burger King’s parent is giving cash advances and rent deferrals to franchisees LINK
  • CNBC – Yum Brands CEO to forgo 2020 salary to fund general manager bonuses LINK
  • Forbes – How DoorDash’s Partnership With The Dallas Mavericks Is Supporting Local Restaurants LINK
  • Business Insider – Restaurant owners can use money from the new stimulus package to pay their employees the equivalent of the cash tips they’re missing out on. Here’s how it works. LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Parent of Burger King, Popeye’s, Tim Horton’s outlines coronavirus response LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – #TheGreatAmericanTakeout offers a second helping LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Yum Brands, parent to KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and The Habit Burger Grill, gives $1,000 bonus to all company-owned restaurant general managers LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Ruth’s Chris Steak House closes 23 restaurants in wake of coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Barcelona Wine Bar CEO Adam Halberg empowers his employees to make it personal, even while pivoting to to-go meals due to the coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Report: Quick-Service Transactions Fall 34 Percent LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Burger King Parent Advances Cash to Franchisees, Defers Rent LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Taco Bell to Give Everyone in America Free Doritos Locos Tacos LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Einstein Bros. Introduces New Family Meals LINK
  • Convenience Store News – C-store Chains Close Stores After Workers Test Positive for COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Convenience Channel Helps Fuel First Responders & Medical Personnel LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Nouria Provides Hourly Pay Raises in Response to COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Choice Market Offers Contactless Pick-Up, Delivery and Discounts During COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – ITG Brands Donates $50,000 to Local COVID-19 Relief Fund LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – RPP Products Shifts Production to Hand Sanitizer to Help Combat COVID-19 LINK

March 30, 2020

SUMMARY: As COVID-19 continues to the grip the nation, restaurants and businesses are left to create and implement their own relief plan, as congress works to finalize and distribute the largest relief package in American history. Fast Casual businesses like Church’s Chicken are creating comprehensive relief efforts for franchisees and workers. Effective March 30th, franchisees for Church’s Chicken can defer 50 percent of their royalties and ad fund contributions for the next four weeks.

  • New York Times – These Days, Even a Michelin Star Chef Has to Sell Takeout LINK
  • Business Insider – Leaked documents reveal McDonald’s response to insiders’ worries about a ‘black-eye’ for its reputation over sick leave amid the coronavirus outbreak LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Working Lunch: The latest on coronavirus’ impact on the restaurant industry LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – CEO of Brio and Bravo casual dining brands says 71 closed restaurants might not reopen if COVID-19 crisis lasts much longer LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – The National Restaurant Association Education Foundation launches an employee fundraising campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic in partnership with Guy Fieri LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Here’s what the $2 trillion economic stimulus plan does for restaurants LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Church’s Chicken Introduces Franchisee Relief Plan LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Four Foods Offers Tips for Emerging Brands to Get Through Coronavirus LINK
  • QSR Magazine – 10 Perseverance Tips During COVID-19 LINK
  • Modern Restaurant Management – What Delivery Customers Expect During the COVID-19 Pandemic LINK
  • NACS – Liquid Barcodes Helps C-Stores Practice Social Distancing LINK
  • NACS – Broader Retail Implications of Coronavirus LINK
  • NACS – Ideas 2 Go: Delivering Choice LINK
  • NACS – EPA Grants RVP Waiver LINK

March 27, 2020

SUMMARY: The coronavirus continues to heavily impact the restaurant industry. Third-party marketplaces like Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, and Uber Eats have shown slower sales as consumer spending trends change. Wendy’s has had to withdraw its 2020 outlook and long-term forecast for 2021-2024 as same-store sales have plunged 20% in the week ended March 22.

Given the current state of the industry, restaurant and third-party companies alike are adjusting their business models to adapt to their environment and support their employees. Companies like Panera have implemented emergency sick pay for their workers while Chipotle has applied a 10% pay increase to hourly team members. GrubHub has announced that it is deferring $100 million worth of commissions to help support independent restaurants during this period of uncertainty.

  • Bloomberg – Former Twitter CEO and Pals Help Restaurants Dish Out Free Meals LINK
  • CNBC – Wendy’s withdraws outlook and draws down revolver as same-store sales plunge 20% LINK
  • Associated Press – Virus changes menus, operations as restaurants struggle LINK
  • Forbes – How The Plant-Based Trend Could Help Restaurants Survive This Crisis LINK
  • Forbes – How COVID-19 Led To The Restaurant Industry Collapsing In Major U.S. Cities LINK
  • Forbes – As COVID-19 Imperils The Restaurant Industry, These Brands Are Here To Help LINK
  • Fox Business – GrubHub CEO: Deferring revenue during coronavirus to save restaurants LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – After an initial uptick, quick-service traffic declining, new data shows LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Panera implements emergency sick pay for employees; announces contactless delivery strategy during COVID-19 LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Bret Thorn and Nancy Kruse discuss the coronavirus crisis impact on restaurants and what might come afterward LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – More than 3 million Americans filed jobless claims last week, reflecting coronavirus-related restaurant layoffs LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Here’s the latest on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting restaurant traffic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Chipotle Mexican Grill gives 10% pay increase to hourly workers LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Research shows slowing sales growth at third-party marketplaces like Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, and Uber Eats as the coronavirus pandemic changes the way consumers spend LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Chef Thomas Keller files suit against his insurer in business interruption dispute LINK
  • Restaurant Business – 67,650 restaurant and bar jobs eliminated in NYC, survey finds LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Wendy’s breakfast was a success, and then coronavirus hit LINK
  • Restaurant Business – At Duck Donuts, coronavirus forces a shift in thinking LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Four Foods Offers Tips for Emerging Brands to Get Through Coronavirus LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Marco’s Pizza President Pens Open Letter to Customers LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Nékter Juice Bar Introduces ‘Take It and Make It’ Products LINK
  • Fast Casual – Webinar to offer guidance on controlling COVID-19 in food facilities LINK
  • Convenience Store News – 7-Eleven Waives Delivery Fees Through April 30 LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Thorntons Thanks Its Local Communities With Limited-Time Fuel Discount LINK
  • Convenience Store News – More C-store Industry Retailers Give Raises & Bonuses to Employees Amid COVID-19 Crisis LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – VERC Updates COVID-19 Response, Issues Bonuses and Pay Raises to All Employees LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Mondelēz International Announces COVID-19 Actions LINK

March 26, 2020

SUMMARY: Restaurant companies continue to feel strain on their businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly infect the US. Companies including McDonald’s are reporting limited menus, with the company pulling its all-day breakfast menu in order to simplify operations. Other companies such as Cheesecake Factory have informed their landlords they cannot pay their April rent and have closed a number of locations for the time being.

The U.S. Senate and the Trump administration have negotiated a $2 trillion stimulus package, which in part would help large and small restaurant companies deal with the coronavirus pandemic’s impact. The bill was approved late Wednesday in a 96-0 vote. It still requires approval of the U.S. House as well as the President’s signature, which will likely come later this week.

Additionally, the one-day Great American Takeout appeared to give the industry a sales boost and helped expand awareness as operators remain limited to takeout and delivery offerings.

  • New York Times – Would ‘Back to Normal’ Be Good Enough for Restaurants? LINK
  • Bloomberg – To Fight Virus Slump, Neighborhood Restaurants Turn Into Liquor Stores LINK
  • CNBC – McDonald’s is pulling its all-day breakfast menu as it limits options amid pandemic LINK
  • CNBC – Yum Brands suspends $2 billion buyback program, provides royalty grace period for franchisees LINK
  • Forbes – How COVID-19 Led To The Restaurant Industry Collapsing In Major U.S. Cities [Infographic] LINK
  • Business Insider – People are freaking out after Waffle House closes hundreds of restaurants LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Senate, administration negotiate $2 trillion stimulus bill LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Full-service same-store sales down an average 74%, Black Box says LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – #TheGreatAmericanTakeout movement trends on social media as restaurants promote takeout during the coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Great American Takeout boosts restaurant sales – at least for a day LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Here’s what your restaurant business insurance may (or may not) cover during the coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – McDonald’s and Subway announce free delivery as more U.S. states order residents to shelter in place LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – COVID-19 outbreak forces Yum Brands to close 7,000 global restaurants LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Cracker Barrel will not continue to invest in Punch Bowl Social after the emerging brand was temporarily forced to close units and faces foreclosure due to coronavirus LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Golden Corral suspends company-owned buffets in wake of coronavirus LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Tech Tracker: Restaurant technology companies provide relief during coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Chef Floyd Cardoz — owner of Tabla, Bombay Bread Bar — has died of novel coronavirus LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Restaurants Get No Relief From Business Interruption Insurance LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Restaurants are Projected to Have Their Worst Year on Record LINK
  • Restaurant Business – How Restaurant Operators are Coping with the Coronavirus Shutdown LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Coronavirus Hope No. 1 for Restaurants: Keep Staff Employed LINK
  • QSR Web – Yelp findings show consumer interests in pandemic-stricken US LINK
  • Fast Casual – Is the government’s boost enough to save the restaurant industry? LINK
  • Fast Casual – U.S. on same COVID-19 path as China, says Starbucks chief LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Giant Eagle’s GetGo Stores Adding Plexiglass Dividers at Checkout LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Fresh Del Monte Produce Assures Total Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Amid COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Kum & Go Looks to its Values During COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – C-Stores Increase Wages Amid COVID-19 LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Wawa Donates $30,000 to Food Banks for COVID-19 Relief LINK
  • CSP Magazine – NCA Cancels Sweets & Snacks Expo Due to COVID-19 Concerns LINK

March 25, 2020

SUMMARY: Restaurant brands are continuing to feel the effects of COVID-19 on their business and workforce. In order to protect restaurant employees during these unprecedented times, federal law recently passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which aims to protect employees through sick leave and, in most cases, leave to take care of children.
The law stipulates that starting April 2, any workers subject to quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, as well as patients experiencing symptoms and awaiting diagnosis, must be paid their regular pay up to $511 per day, up to a total of $5,110.

The National Restaurant Association also took a significant step to mitigate risk the spread of COVID-19 by cancelling its 2020 Show which was scheduled to take place in May.

  • CNBC – Starbucks CEO: Our experience tracking coronavirus in China shows US on ‘very similar’ path LINK
  • CBS News – Restaurant industry struggles with closures and layoffs due to coronavirus: “This was their livelihood” LINK
  • Business Insider – Food delivery unicorn Deliveroo warns ‘confusion’ about coronavirus transmission is hurting restaurant orders: Sky LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Federal law mandates new paid leave requirements for restaurant workers affected by coronavirus LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – National Restaurant Association cancels 2020 show LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Communicating during the coronavirus crisis—experts suggest looking to the future LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Gas Prices in 29 States Drop Below $2 a Gallon LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Exclusive Research Shows Coronavirus Pandemic Is Driving Grocery Shoppers to Convenience Stores LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Crisis Dining Data Could Favor C-Stores LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Pilot Company Thanks Employees for Their Dedication During COVID-19 LINK
  • CSP Magazine – First Look at COVID-19’s Effect on C-Store Sales LINK
  • New York Times – Restaurant Workers Get a Final Paycheck and a Meal From Their Peers LINK
  • New York Times – Will We Have an America Without Restaurants? LINK
  • Bloomberg – U.S. Retailers Plan to Stop Paying Rent to Offset Virus Closures LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – CraftWorks Holdings, parent of Logan’s Roadhouse, names Marc Buehler as new CEO and closes 338 restaurants due to COVID-19 crisis LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Luby’s suspends more cafeteria, Fuddruckers operations LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Battered restaurant shares find some life as stocks soar LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Moe’s Southwest Grill Now Offering Taco Kits Perfect for Families LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Smoothie King Offering Free Immune Support Enhancers, Kid’s Smoothies During COVID-19 LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Insomnia Cookies Unveils Red Cross Donation Week LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Retail Groups Request Delay of EMV Deadline LINK
  • CSP Magazine – Circle K Navigates COVID-19, M&A LINK

March 24, 2020

SUMMARY: Restaurants are continuing their efforts to promote takeout and delivery services. Today, a coalition of restaurants joined together in asking Americans to participate in The Great American Takeout as a way to support the restaurant community following the loss of dine-in options. The coalition is encouraging people to order at least one delivery or pick-up meal today to show support for the struggling restaurant community and share photos on social media tagged with #TheGreatAmericanTakeout.

Despite business struggles, some restaurant companies are temporarily increasing the pay of its workers to help those navigate the pandemic, including American coffee company and coffeehouse chain, Starbucks.

  • Bloomberg –Restaurant Workers Among Hardest Hit by Coronavirus LINK
  • CNBC –Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert on how coronavirus is affecting the restaurant industry LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– Casual dining chains face difficult choices: temporarily close and layoff hundreds or bet on curbside pickup to survive LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– Starbucks implements $3 pay raise for all working employees during coronavirus crisis LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– DoorDash launches #openfordelivery, collaborates with rival third-party apps like Grubhub and Uber Eats LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– Cheesecake Factory says off-premise model lets it ‘operate sustainably’ LINK
  • QSR Magazine– Pizza Hut Has 30,000 Open Positions Nationwide LINK
  • QSR Magazine– Panera to Offer Free Delivery, Contactless Options During COVID-19 Crisis LINK
  • Restaurant Business– Cheesecake Factory says it’s making it through off-premise LINK
  • PYMNTS– The Potential Of Restaurant Delivery Amid The Coronavirus LINK
  • PYMNTS– Deep Dive: Why Technology-Forward Restaurants Are Adopting Digital POS, Menu Management Software LINK
  • Convenience Store News– C-store Retailers Hiring Thousands to Serve Customers During COVID-19 Crisis LINK
  • Convenience Store News– Convenience Store Chains Support Workers With Raises, Bonuses & Paid Time Off LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions– goPuff Launches Health Care Support Initiative LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions– Love’s Provides Pay Increases, Bonuses to Hourly Employees During COVID-19 LINK
  • CSP Magazine– Coronavirus Drives Purchases of Snack Foods LINK
  • CSP Magazine– 8 C-Store Chains With Coronavirus-Related Hiring Initiatives LINK

March 23, 2020

  • Forbes– Bars, Restaurants Tackle Coronavirus Closings With To-Go Drinks And Bottled Cocktails LINK
  • NPR– Closed All At Once: Restaurant Industry Faces Collapse LINK
  • INC – A Small Italian Restaurant Decided To Offer Takeout. Then It Did Something Truly, Unexpectedly Thoughtful LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– Restaurants ask consumers to join #TheGreatAmericanTakeout amid coronavirus fallout LINK
  • Restaurant Business– Coalition of restaurant chains urge more takeout LINK
  • Restaurant Business– Vapiano says coronavirus might push it into bankruptcy LINK
  • CSP Magazine– NACS Announces Details of 2020 State of the Industry Summit Virtual Experience LINK
  • Japan Times– Pandemic boosted convenience store sales in February LINK
  • The New York Times– A Boom Time for the Bean Industry LINK
  • The New York Times– José Andrés: We Have a Food Crisis Unfolding Out of Sight LINK
  • Bloomberg– Australia Closes Pubs, Restaurants, Casinos as Infections Soar LINK
  • FOX Business– Domino’s hiring 10,000 employees amid coronavirus demand surge LINK
  • ABC News– Virtual tip jars are helping workers in one of the hardest hit industries in the country LINK

March 22,  2020

SUMMARY: More and more restaurants are taking comprehensive steps in attempts to “flatten the curve” in regards to the spread of COVID-19. As the number of chains shuttering their doors increases, so too do the efforts of restaurant companies and delivery services to promote takeout, drive-thru and delivery in order to keep customers well-fed without requiring them to leave their homes.

Despite business struggles, restaurant companies are promoting new initiatives and announcing new services that preach the importance of uniting together in order to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. MOOYAH announced a deep cleaning event in which they hope restaurants around the nation will join them in top-to-bottom cleaning and disinfecting of their facilities.

Additionally, food delivery services such as DoorDash have been heavily promoting the importance allowing restaurants to provide delivery in order to ensure that they are still able to operate in a situation where customers are no longer able or allowed to enter their buildings. Lyft, a ridesharing app, has even announced plans to begin delivering food as well as medical supplies to people in need, serving as the latest highlight in regards to some of the pivots restaurants and apps have been required to employ as they navigate the pandemic situation.

  • Reuters– BRIEF-Mcdonald’s Canada To Close Dining Rooms, Stop Take-Out Service LINK
  • Bloomberg– Is Delivery Still OK? The Ethics of Shopping in a Pandemic LINK
  • Bloomberg– Restaurant Suppliers Are Stuck With Tons of Unsold Food LINK
  • CNBC– NYC restaurants face mass layoffs as coronavirus cripples economic life: ‘This is a crushing blow’ LINK
  • Forbes– Bars, Restaurants Tackle Coronavirus Closings With To-Go Drinks And Bottled Cocktails LINK
  • Business Insider– These 4 stunning charts show just how quickly the coronavirus outbreak decimated key US industries – and pushed the economy to the brink of recession LINK
  • NBC News– Food delivery workers are coronavirus first responders — here’s how you can repay us LINK
  • Huffington Post– Elizabeth Warren Calls Out Walmart, Amazon And McDonald’s Over Sick Leave LINK
  • New York Post–  Restaurateur gives tips on helping coronavirus-hit industry LINK
  • Vox– How not to be a jerk while ordering groceries during a pandemic LINK
  • NPR– As Restaurants Across The Country Close Their Doors, Deliveries Pick Up LINK
  • TechCrunch– Lyft to offer medical supply and meal delivery during coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Restaurant Business– DoorDash launches comprehensive campaign to promote restaurant delivery LINK
  • Restaurant Business– Parent of Logan’s and Old Chicago ‘mothballs’ all 261 of its restaurants LINK
  • Restaurant News– Noodles & Company Leveraging Expanded Delivery and To-Go Service Options in Response to COVID-19 LINK

March 21, 2020

  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Starbucks closes cafes, limits orders to delivery and drive-thru LINK

March 20, 2020

SUMMARY: Media coverage continues to highlight the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s impact on the restaurant industry, with city and state-wide restaurant and bar closures still a topic of focus. Restaurant companies continue to also distribute customer letters providing business updates in light of COVID-19.

On Thursday, the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) and FMI-Food Industry Association announced an ad-hoc partnership driven by widespread consumer needs. The partnership is a matching program that connects foodservice distributors that have excess capacity (products, transportation services, warehousing services) to assist food retailers and wholesalers that require additional resources to fulfill needs at grocery stores that are experiencing skyrocketing demand.

Domino’s has announced it will hire 10,000 employees amid an influx of orders as a result of COVID-19, with a number of other restaurant companies offering delivery and takeout and discounts as well as companies including Dunkin’ and Panda Express announcing contributions to health and hunger relief foundations. Papa John’s CEO commented on CNBC yesterday that the company is hiring.

On a national scale, restaurant operators are uniting to demand tax relief and new rules from the government as they continue to face a large decrease in traffic and sales. Public restaurant company stocks also continue to slump.

  • Bloomberg– To Save Restaurants, Chefs and Former Financiers Ask for Tax Relief, New Rules LINK
  • Bloomberg– Starbucks Says Virus Plan From China Will Work in U.S., Too LINK
  • Bloomberg– Burger King Parent Restaurant Brands Is Equipped to Meet Demand, CEO Says LINK
  • CNBC– Restaurant industry estimates $225 billion in coronavirus-related losses LINK
  • CNBC– Papa John’s CEO: We are hiring right now, implementing contactless delivery LINK
  • CNBC– Grubhub CEO: We are helping local, independent restaurants during coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Forbes– Chefs Launch Petition To Save Restaurants During Coronavirus, With Help From Alice Waters, Reem Assil And More LINK
  • Forbes– The Restaurant Industry Needs A Coronavirus Bailout. Will They Get It? LINK
  • Forbes– Grubhub $100 Million Relief Effort Isn’t What It Seems, Restaurant Owners Say LINK
  • Eater– The Livelihoods of Food-Service Workers Are Completely Uncertain LINK
  • Food & Wine– Local and Nationwide Movements Mobilize to Save the Restaurant Industry LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– Restaurant chains closing or moving to off-premise in light of coronavirus LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– How restaurants are stepping up to help their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, from providing toilet paper to meal kits LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– Visits to quick-service restaurants up 11% nationally since COVID-19 outbreak LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– What third-party delivery marketplaces are doing, and not doing, for restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– Darden Restaurants Inc. sees 60% decline in SSS this week because of coronavirus LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– In-N-Out closes dining rooms but unlike its rivals, the chain doesn’t offer delivery for social distancing burger fans LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– Cameron Mitchell Restaurants temporarily closes all restaurants, furloughs 4,500 LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News– Domino’s Pizza hiring 10,000 workers to meet delivery demand during coronavirus crisis LINK
  • Restaurant Business– The Coronavirus Takes Out Eatertainment Chains LINK
  • Restaurant Business– Subway Works to Keep Its Franchisees Afloat LINK
  • QSR Magazine– Groups Launch Partnership to Ensure Sufficient Food Supply LINK
  • QSR Magazine– Just Salad Delivering Meals to NYC Students LINK
  • QSR Web– Adapting to the new normal: Vendors offer free services to restaurant operators LINK
  • Fast Casual– Some COVID-19 aid for foodservice now a reality, more coming LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions– Kwik Trip Waives Delivery Fees Amid Health Emergency LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions– Dash In Prioritizes People During COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions– COVID-19 Update From NAG, YEO and C-Store Decisions LINK
  • CSP Magazine– Convenience-Store Suppliers React to COVID-19 LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – The Gig Economy to the Rescue LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Starbucks Seeks to Reassure Investors LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Olive Garden’s Owner Reports Sales Plunge as Coronavirus Spreads LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Impossible Foods CEO on Running a $4 Billion Startup From Children’s Bedroom LINK
  • New York Times – To Stay Afloat, the Restaurant Business Clings to ‘Contactless Delivery’ LINK

March 19, 2020

SUMMARY: Large, national chains including KFC and Qdoba are temporarily shutting down dine-in and are altering service to takeout and delivery options. Following suit, a number of smaller chains such as Tijuana Flats, Duck Donuts, and Pieology have suspended dine-in. COVID-19 is proving to have a devastating impact outside of just restaurant sales as well. On March 18, the National Restaurant Association penned a letter to the President seeking a $145 billion recovery fund from the government as the trade association forecasts sales declines of $225 billion over the next three months and a loss of 5 to 7 million jobs due to COVID-19. A coronavirus emergency aid package that will extend paid sick and family leave to U.S. workers was passed by the Senate on Wednesday and is moving to the President’s desk for his signature. Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality is already experiencing the impact of COVID-19 announced the layoff of 2,000 employees (80%) from its workforce. Technology providers such as Grubhub, Seamless, and Resy are encouraging customers to order from their favorite restaurants in order to soften these detrimental effects COVID-19 is expected to have.

  • CNBC – Yum! Brands CEO David Gibbs on the scope of the coronavirus crisis for food service industry. LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Senate approves paid sick and family leave extension in coronavirus emergency aid package. LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – National Restaurant Association sends restaurant industry recovery and relief proposal to White House, projects economic impact of at least $225 billion and 5-7 million job losses. LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurant traffic was deteriorating before coronavirus closures. LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Here are the current temporary restrictions imposed on bars and restaurants to stem the spread of coronavirus. LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Coronavirus: Chipotle Mexican Grill expands free delivery with new Uber Eats partnership. LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Chipotle Mexican Grill aims to reach customers quarantined during coronavirus pandemic through Instagram live with celebrities, musicians. LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – KFC closes dining rooms amid coronavirus pandemic. LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Amid Outbreak, Some Brands Rush to Support Employees. LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Qdoba Suspends Dine-In Services Nationwide. LINK
  • QSR Magazine – DoorDash Wants to Generate $200M in Additional Sales for Restaurants. LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Muscle Maker Grill Now Offering Free Immunity Boosters. LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Tijuana Flats Shuts Down Dining Rooms, Starts Closing at 8 P.M. LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Duck Donuts Shifts to Delivery and Take-Out Only. LINK
  • QSR Magazine – DiBella’s Subs Launches Community Support Plan. LINK
  • QSR Magazine – Pieology Pizza Unveils Free Delivery Deal. LINK
  • QSR Web – Sales falling at 70% of US restaurants. LINK
  • QSR Web – FDA hosting food stakeholder call-in this afternoon. LINK
  • WCBV – Foundation launched to help those in restaurant industry affected by closures. LINK
  • Convenience Store News – Truckstops & Travel Plazas Remain Open to Serve the Need of Truckers Transporting Goods LINK
  • Convenience Store News – C-stores Cease Self-Serve Food & Beverages Due to Coronavirus LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Adapts to COVID-19 LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – 7-Eleven Offers ‘Contactless’ Delivery Option As Part of COVID-19 Response LINK
  • NACS – C-Stores Adjust Foodservice in Face of COVID-19 LINK
  • CSP Magazine – How One Retailer Is Coping With Coronavirus Constraints LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Strong Restaurant Chains May Feast After Coronavirus Famine. LINK
  • Wall Street Journal – Grocery Delivery Strains to Meet Voracious Demand. LINK
  • New York Times – Danny Meyer’s Restaurant Group Lays Off 2,000 Workers. LINK
  • CNBC – Restaurant industry asks for $145 billion recovery fund from the government. LINK
  • CNBC – At least 15 states closing restaurants to dine-in service. LINK

March 18, 2020

  • Wall Street Journal – New York Restaurants Hope ‘Bond Offering’ Will Save Businesses. LINK
  • Bloomberg – Burger King to Give Away Kid’s Meals as U.S. Schools Shut Down. LINK
  • Bloomberg – Blue Apron Soars as Cities Curtail Restaurants, Shoppers Panic. LINK
  • Bloomberg – Restaurant Closures May Cost 7.4 Million Jobs, Report Says. LINK
  • CNBC – Trump spoke with restaurant company CEOs about coronavirus response. LINK
  • Business Insider – ‘We have the ability to help feed America’: The CEO of Burger King’s and Popeyes’parent company is working to convince Trump that fast food is crucial in the coronavirus outbreak. LINK
  • EATER – Restaurants Can Now Sell Booze for Takeout and Delivery — but Only With Food, SLA Says LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – McDonald’s closing dining rooms, shifting to drive-thru, carryout, delivery at company stores. LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Chipotle Mexican Grill joins fray of chains closing dine-in operations to limit spread of coronavirus. LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Dunkin’ moves to limited service and removes tables and chairs from its over 8,500 stores in the U.S. LINK

March 17, 2020

  • Wall Street Journal – McDonald’s Closes Dining Rooms in Response to Coronavirus LINK
  • New York Times – A Frantic Few Days for Restaurants Is Only the Beginning LINK
  • Bloomberg – Trump Shifts Tone on Virus, Warning Americans: ‘It’s Bad’ LINK
  • Bloomberg – U.S. Restaurant Diners Disappear With Virus’s Social Distancing LINK
  • CNBC – Coronavirus outbreak prompts growing number of states to ban dining in at restaurants LINK
  • CNN – Los Angeles puts restrictions on restaurant service, dine-in not allowed LINK
  • Fortune – New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut shut down restaurants as pandemic spreads LINK
  • Forbes – As Coronavirus Rocks The Travel And Restaurant Industry, What Should A Critic Do To Help? LINK
  • Fast Company – U.S. Starbucks employees can now get up to 20 free therapy sessions LINK
  • CBS News – Panic buying during coronavirus outbreak puts others “at risk,” food industry expert warns LINK
  • The Spoon – Here’s How Coronavirus Could Change Food Tech Accelerators in the Future LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Uber Eats offers relief to restaurants including daily payouts LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Domino’s launches custom contactless delivery during coronavirus crisis LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – &Pizza is offering free pizza, expanded sick leave and wage increases for employees in response to coronavirus crisis LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Federal coronavirus guidelines urge Americans to avoid restaurants, bars LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Restaurant companies warn investors amid coronavirus rout LINK
  • Nation’s Restaurant News – Here are the current temporary restrictions imposed on bars and restaurants to stem the spread of coronavirus LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Independent Operators Demand Government Action to keep Their Business Alive LINK
  • Restaurant Business – Restaurant stocks crash again as fears over dine-in closures mount LINK
  • Restaurant Business – White House eyes nationwide curfew: Report LINK
  • Convenience Store News – What Precautions Are C-store Retailers Taking for COVID-19 Coronavirus? LINK
  • Convenience Store News – C-stores Remain Committed to Meeting Customer Needs Amid Coronavirus LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Stewart’s Shops Outlines COVID-19 Safety Measures LINK
  • Convenience Store Decisions – Sheetz, Kum & Go Provide Paid Leave to Employees Affected by COVID-19 LINK
  • NACS – Convenience Retailers Share COVID-19 Plans LINK
  • CSP Magazine – How More C-Store Retailers Are Fighting COVID-19 LINK

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