Prior to the pandemic, Times Square in New York City was bustling with office workers, theatergoers and tourists. But pandemic restrictions forced Broadway to darken and dining rooms to remain closed. New York has banned indoor dining since March and plans to start allowing indoor dining with a capacity of just 25 percent by the end of the month.
The changes are disastrous for Times Square Olive Garden, located on West 47th Street, between Broadway and 7th Avenue. The restaurant, opened in 1994, has three floors, two kitchens and can accommodate about 500 guests. In previous years, she sold New Year’s packages for hundreds of dollars per person.
The restaurant had more than $ 1
5 million in sales annually on average before the pandemic, or about $ 300,000 a week, the company told analysts discussing the company’s quarterly results on Thursday. The restaurant now sells about $ 17,500 a week in sales.
“This is our best restaurant in the olive garden system,” said Eugene Lee, CEO of Darden, which owns Olive Garden, during the conversation. He added that the weekly shortage “will probably be hard for you to believe.”
Casual dining restaurants, which have long been advertised as places to visit in person, suffered during the pandemic. Sizzler USA, one of the first casual restaurant chains in the country, filed for bankruptcy this week. Chuck E. See’s parent company, CEC Entertainment, filed for bankruptcy in June, blaming the financial tensions caused by Covid-19 and the prolonged closure of its entertainment centers by orders to stay at home.
Darden (DRI), which also owns Longhorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen and other brands, is also struggling.
In the three months ended Aug. 30, sales at Olive Garden restaurants, which have been open for at least a year, fell about 28 percent from the same period last year, the company said Thursday. Darden’s total sales for the quarter fell about 28% to $ 1.53 billion for the quarter.
The company hopes that easing indoor eating restrictions will help it bounce back, not just in Times Square.
“Capacity constraints continue to be constrained [Olive Garden’s] best sales, especially in key markets like California and New Jersey, where canteens were closed for most of the quarter, ”Lee said.
“The return of California will be huge,” he added. “California is a big market for us with big volumes.” In California, some counties have restricted indoor eating, while others allow it in limited capacity.