The coronavirus pandemic has led to the closure of tens of thousands of restaurants across the country, and many of them will never reopen. While mom and pops have borne the brunt of the virus, many chains have felt the effects as well, with entire systems being wiped out in some cases.
The 16 chains listed here account for roughly 500 permanent restaurant closures across the U.S.
Brio Italian Mediterranean and Bravo Fresh Italian
Parent FoodFirst Global Restaurants filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April after closing 71 of its 92 restaurants.
Most of the shuttered Bravo and Brio restaurants were closed as of March 20, when the COVID-19 crisis had already prompted many states to shut restaurant dining rooms.
FoodFirst and its investors left open the possibility of further closures. Court documents indicated that 20 leases were scheduled for renewal in 2020.
Franchisee Feast American Diners closed 15 upstate New York locations in March, according to a WARN notice filed with the state. COVID-19 was listed as the reason for the closures.
Denny’s had 1,558 units as of 2019, most of which are operated by franchisees, according to Technomic.
Franchisee CFRA Holdings closed all 49 of its units after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early May. The fallout from COVID-19 was given as a reason for the filing.
The stores were in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
IHOP had 1,710 units in 2019, all of them franchised, according to Technomic.
Le Pain Quotidien
The fast-casual chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection May 27. A proposed sale to Aurify Brands for $3 million would allow for the reopening of at least 35 of its 98 locations, Le Pain said in its filing, suggesting that many would remain permanently closed.
Family-run Pappas Restaurants permanently closed five of its branches in Houston, or roughly 10% of the company's holdings within its hometown.
Included are two units of the company’s Pappas Seafood House chain and the lone Pappas Shrimp Shack. Also shuttered were a Yia Yia Mary’s Mediterranean Kitchen and a unit of the concern’s main brand, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen.
The Pappas clan had run 49 restaurants in Houston. With the permanent shutdowns, the family’s nationwide fold has been cut to 85 outlets, according to Technomic.
Once a rising star of the fast-casual pizza sector, the Southern California-based chain has permanently closed more than half of its units in the past year and currently has just 13 stores in operation in the U.S., according to local media reports and a Restaurant Business review of the chain’s locations.
The chain recently closed eight restaurants in Los Angeles County, leaving just two stores there. Last month, it shuttered all three of its restaurants in Las Vegas. Eight additional units remain open in California, along with one in South Dakota, one in Louisiana and one in Virginia.
Punch Bowl Social
Two of the eatertainment chain’s 20 locations will not reopen, CEO Robert Thompson told RB.
In March, strategic partner Cracker Barrel Old Country Store informed Thompson that it would not invest further in Punch Bowl Social after buying a minority stake for $140 million just one year earlier.
Rubio’s Coastal Grill
Fast-casual Mexican chain Rubio’s Coastal Grill permanently closed 12 units, or about 7% of its system, pulling out of Colorado and Florida because of the impacts of the coronavirus.
The Carlsbad, Calif.-based brand, which has approximately 170 locations, closed six stores in Colorado and six in Florida.
“Rubio’s will continue to focus on their core markets—California, Arizona and Nevada,” a spokeswoman said.
At least 150 locations were still closed even as states began to reopen dining rooms around the country in May—and many will not reopen.
“The final tally as to the permanent number of closures is to be determined for us,” said Aziz Hashim, founder and managing partner of Ruby Tuesday owner NRD Capital. “Some of it depends on how quickly sales come back.”
Going into 2020, the company operated 470 restaurants, including 19 outside of the U.S. As of late May, that number was “between 270 and 300,” Hashim said.
Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes
Owner Garden Fresh Restaurants closed all 97 locations for good after it filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in mid-May.
Executives said they saw no proper strategy for reopening as federal regulations forbid self-service operations such as salad bars.
Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery
The coronavirus forced the permanent closure of all of the more than 40 units of the bakery-cafe chain in mid-May.
“Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery is closing after 33 years of business,” the Pleasanton, Calif.-based chain said in the announcement. “Current market conditions attributed to COVID-19 and shelter-in-place policies have decimated company revenues.”
The concept had units in California, Illinois and Washington.
Steak ‘n Shake
Steak ‘n Shake permanently closed 51 of its company-owned restaurants in May as the chain has worked to refinance a debt bill that comes due next year.
The closures suggest that half of the temporary closures announced last year have been made permanent as the company has struggled to regain profitability amid steep sales and traffic declines last year.
The company now operates 306 restaurants, down from 368 at the end of 2019.
CEO Ray Blanchette told Bloomberg in late May that 10% to 20% of the chain’s 380 domestic units—about 75 locations—would close permanently. But by early June, 311 units had reopened, with more opening every day.
Blanchette told Restaurant Business that he’s not sure what the lasting attrition will be. He explained that the numbers depend as much on the action of landlords as they do on the behavior of consumers in a gradually reopening restaurant market.
The casual-dining chain closed the majority of its East Coast locations, citing the coronavirus for hurting sales.
The Briad Group, which has been building Zinburger locations up and down the East Coast for the past decade, closed 15 of the 18 units it operates. Fox Restaurant Concepts, which created the brand, oversees six locations in Arizona that remain unaffected.