America’s major fast-food chains are open for business amidst the coronavirus outbreak — even if it’s only takeout and delivery — and they may be relied upon heavily to affordably feed children at home from school and families because food is sold out at Walmart, Target and Kroger.
“We are well positioned to continue to meet demand out there,” Restaurant Brands CEO Jose Cil told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade, when asked if the fast-food player was running low on supplies. Cil and other leading restaurant executives are fresh off a phone call Tuesday with President Trump and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin where they discussed the challenges of the sector at the moment.
With consumers doing panic stockpiling to tide them over during extended work-from-home situations, there is some concern among investors that the major restaurant chains would run low on buns, burger meat, chicken and potatoes for fries. Considering restaurant traffic has fallen off a cliff this month as companies such as Starbucks and McDonald’s move to takeout only, the last thing that is needed is to see any other business thwarted because of poor food supplies.
Cil said that’s not the case for his company given its vast supply-chain network that feeds thousands of Burger King, Popeye’s and Tim Horton’s restaurants globally.
“We are open for business to feed Americans across the country,” Cill said, adding Burger King has begun to offer free kids meals on their app to parents in need.
But make no mistake, the restaurant industry is also in the fight of its life amid social distancing efforts by cities.
The percentage change in the number of seated diners at U.S. restaurants has progressively worsened — and have declined — since March 1, according to new data from OpenTable. For March 13, OpenTable data shows the number of seated diners crashed nearly 35%.
Some of the most pronounced declines have been notched in coronavirus hotspots such as New York City and Seattle.