KFC is closing the dining rooms of 40 company-operated Florida locations and is urging franchisees in that and other states to take a similar step to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The company told operators that they should consider closing off dining rooms in Arizona, Florida, California and Texas. Operators in California are already required to take that step as of Monday, thanks to a renewed state mandate from that state’s governor.
“Due to the continued escalation of COVID-19 cases in Florida, we have taken the step to close dining rooms in our 40 corporate-owned restaurants there,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We have advised our franchise locations in the hot-spot states of Florida, Texas, Arizona and California that have reopened to consider closing dining rooms for dine-in seating at this time.”
To be sure, only 5% of KFC’s U.S. locations have reopened dining rooms, the company said, meaning all but 200 of the Louisville, Ky.-based chicken chain’s restaurants are relying fully on takeout service.
Fast-food restaurants in particular have thrived largely on the use of their drive-thrus, which consumers perceive as the safer option. Fast-food sales last week were down just 0.8% from year-ago levels last week, according to data from the software company Crunchtime.
More chains have nevertheless started increasing restrictions and taking other steps. Burger giant McDonald’s has stopped reopening its dining rooms, for instance, and the coffee chain Starbucks will start requiring its customers to wear masks inside of its restaurants this week.
KFC had 56 company-operated restaurants at the end of 2019, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic, meaning the Florida closures represent the bulk of the chain’s owned restaurant base. Franchisees operate the remaining 4,000 domestic locations.
The company said that its guidance on closing dining rooms again “is part of our continued efforts to prioritize the health of our team members, customers and the communities where they live and work.” The restaurants remain open for drive-thru, delivery and carryout.