The CEO of OpenTables, which is a service that provides online reservations for restaurants, projects that 25% of all US restaurants will close permanently due to the coronavirus.
Steve Hafner said on CNN on Friday that despite his seemingly dire prediction, the restaurant industry will come out of pandemic “stronger.”
“60 percent of new locations used to close in the first year but they would re-emerge under a different brand or concept,” Hafner said. “The ones that we're talking about going out of business I don't think they're going to return.”
One positive Hafner pointed to is that as states allow restaurants to reopen, demand is increasing quickly.
“It's funny I was looking at some data this morning, Texas is open, Arkansas is not,” Hafner said. “People are actually making hotel bookings on Kayak and going to Dallas to have dinner. So, I think I the business will come back but for the restaurants that reopen, business is going to be very different.”
Despite the shock stay-at-home orders caused to the restaurant industry, Hafner said the government did a good job handling the pandemic.
“You know I think the government has actually done a good job in terms of the payroll protection program and small business loans,” Hafner said. “I would like to see the government be a little bit more open minded about business models.”
Most states are allowing dine-in restaurants to reopen this month, although most states are requiring tables to be distanced, which reduces capacity. Hafner pointed out the that changes are creating a better and safer atmosphere for customers to dine in.