Restaurant sales down $1 million daily due to COVID-19

Tilman Fertitta

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Billionaire Tilman Fertitta told CNBC on Friday that his restaurant empire is losing an average of about $1 million per day in sales due to the coronavirus. 

“Remember, that last million in sales is your most profitable sales. It’s just like any business,” said Fertitta, chairman and CEO of Landry’s, which owns and operates more than 600 restaurants across the world. “That’s where your heavy profit is.” 

The average loss of $1 million per day comes from a base of sales around $12 million, Fertitta said on “Power Lunch.”

Fertitta, whose restaurant brands include Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Morton’s The Steakhouse, said the impact is most acutely felt in two areas: urban areas and popular tourist locations. 

The decline in sales is likely linked to business conferences being canceled across the country, said Fertitta, whose vast entertainment business operation gives him strong insights into the pulse of consumers. 

On the other hand, restaurant revenue in suburban locations has remained OK, Fertitta said. Regional casinos have been less impacted than ones in Las Vegas, according to Fertitta, who owns the Golden Nugget Casino and Hotel brand.

“The regional casinos are OK because you’re staying local, but then you get into Vegas — and Vegas is really starting to slip now,” said Fertitta, who also owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets. 

Cases of the coronavirus continue to grow in the U.S., with at least 260 confirmed instances in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are more than 101,000 confirmed cases across the world. 

The fast-spreading disease has caused significant economic disruption, beginning in China, where COVID-19 originated, and since spreading around the world. 

Fertitta said the coronavirus presents business managers with a challenge, but said revenue declines of about 8% to 12% are manageable. 

“You don’t want to go 20% off. When you get to 20% off in a same store sales, no matter what business you’re in, that’s when you start getting into trouble,” Fertitta said. 

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