More than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurants are finally starting to see some glimmers of hope.
According to Black Box Intelligence, the industry saw stronger two-year sales for the second consecutive month in April, with same-store sales growth of 6.8% on a two-year basis. That made April the best month for restaurants based on sales growth in over three years.
Restaurant companies’ earnings are beginning to reflect the same improvement. Most recent completed earnings periods included at least the last two weeks of March, leading to huge same-store-sales growth over the same period a year ago, when the country was on lockdown and restaurants were all but closed completely. Many companies also reported two-year growth, showing improvement over pre-pandemic 2019.
Even as more Americans get vaccinated and restaurants’ business improves, many chains are retaining things they added during the pandemic. Brinker International CEO Wyman Roberts said consumers’ demand for off-premise options was still strong, and BJ’s Restaurants Inc. was planning to expand its Beer Club and its virtual Slo Roast brand.
With sales improving, the industry is now turning to its next big challenge: finding labor. Domino’s CEO Ritch Allison said the company was facing “one of the most difficult staffing environments in a long time.”
In this roundup, find out how 23 restaurant companies performed in their most recent quarters, what pandemic features they’re keeping around, how they’re facing the labor crisis, and more.