Chuy’s, Taco Cabana, Pollo Tropical, Ruth’s Chris
Financial publications from the industry’s biggest restaurant chains show big brands are settling into a new normal. For small cap operations, especially in the full service industry, the environment is much more difficult.
Chuy’s: Strong increase in margins
The 92-unit casual Tex-Mex chain increased its restaurant-level profit margin in the fourth quarter of 2020 to 20%, from a level of 14.3% a year ago, bringing total profits to the level of the unit at $ 16 million. A significant portion of the savings came from the elimination of Chuy’s Crisps and Salsa Buffet, a free spread known as Nacho Car. Buffets and other self-service stations were largely banned early in the pandemic over fears they would facilitate the spread of COVID-19.
Unit-level employee leave at the start of the pandemic also reduced labor expenses for the year.
Same-store sales climbed in the fourth quarter to less than 81.7% of pre-pandemic levels, and improved nearly four more points during the week ended Jan. 24.
Chuy’s reported fourth quarter net profit of $ 1.8 million, down from a loss of $ 1.4 million a year ago. Revenue for the period totaled $ 78.7 million, down 22.9%.
Taco Cabana, Pollo Tropical: Oh, those drive-ins
The double whammy of the pandemic and bad weather has caused hard times for the parent company of Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical. Corn Fiesta Restaurant Group said during a Q4 call with analysts call late Thursday that his reader-through were a saving grace
Dallas-based Fiesta reported total revenue down 6.6% to $ 148.9 million in the quarter ended Jan. 3. Same-store sales at Pollo Tropical fell 8.2% and 10% at Taco Cabana.
Taco Cabana, which has numerous restaurants in Texas, is expected to have lost as much as $ 3 million in last month’s snowstorm in which around 125 locations were hit with issues ranging from minor issues to damage. major pipelines, water and equipment, the company said.
Both fast-casual brands have seen same-store drive-thru sales growth of at least 24% per year–more–year, helping to partially offset lost sales due to dining hall closures due to COVID. The operator is working on drive-thru improvements to improve throughput.
Ruth’s Chris: Q4 down 39.4%, mostly due to traffic
Parent Ruth’s Hospitality Group has released indications that its expense account-dependent steakhouse brand hasn’t rebounded as strongly as cheaper casual dining brands. Sales for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 27 were down 39.4% on a comparable basis at company-operated restaurants. Same-store sales reached 74.4% of pre-COVID levels in February.
Fourth quarter net profits totaled $ 1.4 million, down 90.1% from a year ago, on revenue of $ 77.4 million, down 42.7%.
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