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Taco Cabana, Pollo Tropical close all dining rooms amid rising coronavirus cases in South

Fiesta Restaurant Group pivots chains to pickup, curbside, delivery only

Despite the fact that Pollo Tropical recently reported being within 12 percentage-points of last year’s sales July month-to-date after reopening, its dining rooms are now closed. According to Richard Stockinger, chief executive of Fiesta Restaurant Group, Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana closed all dining rooms July 12 due to the rising coronavirus cases in the sweltering South. Pollo Tropical posted a 49.2 percent decrease in April, but saw comp sales drop only 12.2 percent during the first two weeks of July—a remarkable improvement.

Taco Cabana was down 26.2 percent in comp sales from last year in April, but improved to a 13.4-percent decrease in the first half of July. Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana have a heavy presence in Florida and Texas, respectively,—states that have become hot zones in the COVID-19 pandemic. Per Fiesta’s latest announcement, the two fast-casual chains have pivoted to takeout, with options that include pickup, curbside and delivery.

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Restaurant chains are clearly grappling with how to effectively and safely manage on-premises dining service while COVID-19 cases surge and seating capacity mandates can vary month to month. It’s a tough predicament as the incidence also rises in key markets in the South and West.

“We will continue to operate our restaurants for drive thru, delivery and pick up, and we are accelerating efforts to better enable our customers to enjoy our brands safely and conveniently across all channels—wherever and whenever they choose,” added Stockinger.

Pollo Tropical’s comp sales decreased 31.6 percent from last year during 2Q and Taco Cabana posted a 19.2-percent drop. Fiesta Restaurant Group will release its second quarter 2020 financial results August 5.

Photo credit: Taco Cabana (featured preview image)

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