Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE), a family-owned restaurant group based in Chicago, could lay off more than 1,000 employees across more than 30 locations, according to an Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) report.
RPM Restaurants is among the hardest hit with 141 potential layoffs at RPM Seafood, RPM Events, RPM Steak, RPM Italian, and Pizza Portofino (from the operators behind RPM). Wildfire, a steak, pork chop, and seafood restaurant, may also see 141 layoffs at its Schaumburg, Lincolnshire, Oakbrook, and Chicago locations. Petterino’s and Do-Rite Donuts may cut 80 jobs and Big Bowl, a Chinese and Thai concept, could lay off 70 workers at its Chicago and Schaumburg units.
In Illinois, companies with 75 or more full-time employees are required to give notice of a “mass layoff” if 25 or more full-time employees will be laid off and they make up one-third or more of the site, or 250 or more workers are laid off at one site.
The layoffs are expected to happen between December 16 and 30. The WARN notice was filed October 13, which occurred prior to Illinois shutting down indoor dining across Chicago and most of the state. Outdoor dining is allowed in the Windy City, but reservations are required and it must close at 11 p.m.
Illinois has been one of the hardest hit states in terms of the pandemic. The state reported more than 15,000 cases on Friday and more than 11,000 on Monday. In total, Illinois has seen more than 585,000 cases and 10,779 deaths.
LEYE president R.J. Melman said that most of the workers involved were placed on furlough in March when Illinois passed down its first set of restrictions. Overall, the brand operates more than 120 restaurants across nine states.
“Our decisions are always guided by our core philosophy of taking care of our people and this was one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to make,” Melman said in a statement. “No one expected these furloughs to continue as long as they have and while we are very optimistic for the future, in the short term, we do not expect a dramatic change in restrictions placed on our industry. Sadly, as a result, we will be laying off valuable team members across the country at the end of the year.”
The news comes a few months after Boka Restaurant Group, a 23-unit collection of independent restaurants in Chicago, filed a WARN notice that more than 500 workers may be laid off.
Melman said his hope is to welcome back as many impacted employees as possible. He added that LEYE will offer accelerated insurance coverage, enhanced vacation, and employee discounts to eligible workers who return next year.
“We are grateful to all of our employees for all they have done and all that they do, especially in difficult times like these,” Melman said.