Bennigan's, the casual dining chain, plans to reopen in phases amid the coronavirus pandemic. Chairman and CEO Paul Mangiamele said the restaurants are following guidelines from local officials for staging the openings safely in regards to social distancing and occupancy levels
States like Georgia, where Bennigan's was founded, and Texas, where it's currently headquartered, have already begun a reopening process. However, Mangiamele told Cheddar on Tuesday that the company is going to practice "common sense" when deciding which locations to reopen first and will take the requirements to do so to an ABCD (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty) level.
"One of the things we are known for is that we have a culture that's built on taking care of not only the external guests but our internal guests, which are our employees," he said.
The restaurant has also pivoted to an on-the-go, business model, Bennigan's On The Fly, that caters to takeout with a hybrid and reduced menu.
The chain hasn't set a target date to reopen all its locations but will reopen gradually, increasing occupancy as it goes along.
"We have to practice a phase program where we see once we are at 25 percent occupancy if everything is cool, we're good, there's not a spike in the sicknesses, then we move to 50 percent, and then we move to 75 percent, and then we move to 100 percent," he explained.
Another challenge faces Bennigan's and other restaurants with more than a dozen meatpacking plants across the country shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak: a meat shortage. However, the CEO said that the chain has been in constant contact with distribution and supply teams to address the issue and should have enough meat on hand.
"If you're in communication with your supply partners, which we've been since the very beginning of this, and with our distribution network, internationally as well as domestically, then you're going to have enough on hand to be able to deliver that to your guests," Mangiamele said.