Billionaire owner suggests government should lift social distancing regulations in a couple weeks.

Landry’s owner Tilman Fertitta temporarily laid off 40,000 employees, or 70 percent of his company’s workforce, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Houston Rockets and Golden Nugget casino owner told Bloomberg News that authorities should consider allowing businesses to operate at a limited capacity in a couple of weeks. He added that restaurants and casinos could operate at 30 to 40 percent of capacity. 

“I think what we are doing with the shutdown is good but in a few weeks people will need to be around people,” Fertitta told Bloomberg. “Otherwise you are going to go into an economic crisis that is going to take us years to dig ourselves out of.”


Fertitta’s comments are similar to President Donald Trump who has reportedly grown anxious about the sinking economy. Trump said he views Easter as a target date for things to return to normal, although health officials advise that social distancing will need to last much longer in order to take the intended effect.

Landry’s owns and operates more than 600 locations and 60 brands across the restaurant, hospitality, entertainment, and gaming industries. The restaurant brands include Landry’s Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton’s The Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mastro’s Restaurants, and Rainforest Café.

All of his casinos have shut down and restaurants operating by takeout are bringing in just 4 to 5 percent of normal sales. Bloomberg reported that Feritta has been speaking to banks about raising as much as $200 million in liquidity in case of emergency. Landry’s has been spending a few million dollars of cash per day, Fertitta told the news outlet. 

Third-party delivery provider Waitr announced last week that it was expanding its partnership with Landry’s, including the addition of carryout services and new delivery markets. The company also said it will offer jobs to Landry’s employees faced with unemployment due to restaurant closures. 

Chains have experienced a tough week so far as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 

J. Alexander’s said Tuesday that it is furloughing 3,400 employees and operating a carryout model that will only drive 10 to 20 percent of normal weekly sales. Golden Corral said during a virtual town hall meeting that it is closing its 35 corporate stores and furloughing 2,290 employees.

Luby’s announced Tuesday morning that it is temporarily closing 35 restaurants and furloughing more than half of its corporate office. That’s in addition to the 39 units it closed earlier in the week. Now only 37 locations under the brand remain open. For the corporate staff that remains, salaries will be cut by 50 percent.

Craftworks Holdings, parent of Logan’s Roadhouse and Old Chicago Pizza, made a similar move this week by furloughing most of its 18,000 employees and closing all of its restaurants after a bankruptcy sale fell through.

Chain Restaurants, Feature, Labor & Employees, Landry's