Ruth’s Chris Steak House announced Tuesday that more than 70 percent of its dining rooms are open as average weekly sales continue to increase.
As of Sunday, 50 company-owned dining rooms were open. Eighteen were operating via off-premises and 18 were temporarily closed. Ten to 15 more units are expected to reopen dining rooms by the end of June. Meanwhile, 62 franchised units were open, three were operating via off-premises, and seven were closed.
In the past two weeks, company-run stores and franchisees have reopened 29 dining rooms and 14 units that were previously shut down.
With the help of Father’s Day, average weekly sales at corporate units reached $59,300 through Sunday—more than triple of what it earned in April. Ruth’s saw $19,300 in average weekly sales in April and $30,600 in May. However, a return to normal is still a long way ahead; Ruth’s earned $102,600 in weekly sales during Q2 in 2019.
The increase in sales is a welcomed sign for Ruth’s, which saw same-store sales plummet by 50.5 percent in March and 83.5 percent in April, when 62 corporate stores and franchises were temporarily closed.
At restaurants with dine-in traffic, customers are able to access menus via a QR code on mobile devices. The chain has also sold new side options along with its shareables, and offered opportunities for small private groups to experience menus like the TasteMaker Wine Dinners until the program can be launched systemwide again.
The company furloughed a significant number of employees during the pandemic. Non-furloughed employees, including CEO Cheryl Henry and other executives, had their salaries reduced. The exception to the pay cut was non-furloughed workers at restaurants, who’ve maintained their full salary. Non-employee board members chose to suspend payment of their compensation.
CFO Arnie Haak said during the brand’s Q1 earnings call in May that Ruth’s has been in constant contact with landlords about abatements and lease modifications, and they expect to reach compromises. However, there is a possibility that up to 10 company-owned stores may close if the brand isn’t able to “recalibrate our operating and occupancy costs.”
As of June 19, Ruth’s had $96.7 million cash on hand, a debt balance of $135.2 million under its credit facility, and outstanding letters of credit of $4.6 million. The full-service chain was approved for $20 million worth of forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, but later returned the funds.