U.K.-based The Restaurant Group, which serves up casual dining, reportedly plans to close 125 locations. That’s a big chunk of its stores, which include the Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s chains. The latter will take the lion’s share of the hit.
The closures come as the restaurant business in the U.K., and elsewhere, reels from the shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The hospitality industry employs about 10 percent of the U.K.’s workforce, reported the Evening Standard. As many as 3,000 jobs could be at risk due to The Restaurant Group’s planned closures.
According to the Financial Times, The Restaurant Group will use a “company voluntary arrangement” — which allows businesses to renegotiate debts with creditors. All told, the company said it has identified 210 underperforming stores, based on poor “lease terms” or that they are unlikely to make a profit.
What The Restaurant Group wants to do is lower its rent in 85 locations to keep them operating. All told, the group could be left with 160 locations.
There is one shining light in the company’s operations: the pan-Asian brand Wagamama, which has performed well since the Restaurant Group bought it in 2018.
The company was already planning to close locations before the coronavirus pandemic struck. The crisis has created business destruction in its wake.
In separate news, Boston-based Legendary Restaurant Group has scrambled to keep ahead of the pandemic’s economic mayhem. Chris Damian, chef and owner, said he could see the tsunami coming back in early March.
At the time of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s shutdown of restaurants on St. Patrick’s Day, Legendary had four physical restaurants in operation: Papagayo, Sip Wine Bar, Burger Dive and Max & Dylans.
Damian said Burger Dive and Max & Dylans both were too large and expensive to continue to operate as physical restaurants.
However, the company moved to resurrect it as a takeout-only place. And it has taken a “sushi concept,” named Aoki Poke, and readied it as a “ghost kitchen.”