Off-premises business has grown, but total sales have declined.

BJ’s Restaurants announced in a filing Monday that it laid off about 16,000 hourly employees despite continuing to operate all 209 of its locations. 

Each unit is using a takeout and delivery model. The company said it’s seen an increase in off-premises sales compared to the year-ago period, but it continues to see a drop in total sales. 

Those who were laid off were given unused vacation and sick time and those not eligible for sick pay were given emergency paid time off. BJ’s hopes to bring employees back once sales begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 


The brand is continuing to evaluate stores and will consider closing some locations based on off-premises sales and cash flow. 

BJ’s decided not to pay rent in April, similar to companies like The Cheesecake Factory and Dave & Buster’s. The company is discussing other suspensions and restructuring of rent with landlords, as well, to provide additional financial relief. 

The company announced March 23 that it drew down the remaining amount from its $250 million credit facility, and that it had more than $95 million in cash. It also stopped all capital spending, including delaying or cancelling new restaurant openings for 2020, and significantly reducing operating expenses and eliminated all nonessential spending. 

Several restaurant companies have announced major furloughs or layoffs including The Cheesecake Factory, Dave & Buster’s, Focus Brands, Ruth’s Hospitality, Chuy’s Holdings, The ONE Group Hospitality, Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, Landry’s, J. Alexander’s, Golden Corral, Luby’s, and Craftworks Holdings.

The struggles at BJ’s are being felt across the full-service segment. Black Box recently reported that full-service restaurants’ share-of-stomach spend fell below 5 percent. 

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Feature, Finance, BJ's Restaurants