Casual dining chains were already facing challenges before COVID-19, hurt by the rise of fast-casual competition and increased food costs.
Now, several of the largest restaurant companies in the U.S. are struggling with capacity restrictions on indoor dining and attempting to lure customers with takeout in a bid to avoid financial disaster.
The owners of chains like Outback Steakhouse, Applebee’s and The Cheesecake Factory are on a newly updated list of national restaurants that are facing the highest likelihood of not paying back their debts. When companies default on loans, they are often forced to file for bankruptcy protection, close locations or occasionally liquidate.
One chain, California Pizza Kitchen, already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with plans to close some locations.