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Impact of COVID-19 on Restaurants

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This video gives an overview of the Ahead of the Curve ® Series report, Closing Time: You Don’t Have to Go Home, but You Can’t Eat Here, which forecasts the consequence of restaurant closures due to COVID-19. We identify public companies that are poised to gain share, quantify the shift between independent restaurants and chains and offer 5 pieces of advice to restaurant CEOs in a world changed by COVID-19. Press play to learn more.


Today we published an Ahead of the Curve ® Series Report focused on the magnitude and ramifications of restaurant industry closures induced by COVID-19. We forecast 7.5% of cumulative industry closures in 2020-21, split -12.5% at independents and +0.4% at the Top 500 chains.

Independent and underperforming chain restaurant closures represent an estimated $39B of 2020-22 industry sales that are up for grabs. This should lead to a 700 bps change in industry market share from independents to the Top 500 chains from 2019-22.

We evaluate which publicly traded concepts are best positioned to gain share by our analysis of category fragmentation, urban vs suburban footprint and cash-on-cash returns. We highlight 5 pieces of advice to restaurant CEOs to adapt to a post-COVID-19 world centered on new store prototypes, ghost kitchens, third-party delivery, curbside pickup and sustainability.

Without Democrats significantly controlling Congress, the political environment makes small business relief more challenging for independent restaurants. We expect limited service, multi-unit concepts to capture the greatest share given the benefits of digital prowess, off-premise oriented operations and value vs. full service.

Based on a multi-sector report led by Andrew Charles, Cowen Restaurants Analyst.

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