- Punch Bowl Social will reopen five locations in the coming weeks as part of its Phase One reopening plan, according to a press release emailed to Restaurant Dive. The planned reopenings are as follows: Denver on July 1, Cleveland on July 13, Atlanta and Austin-Domain on August 3 and Dallas on August 17. These locations are actively hiring.
- The eatertainment chain expects to announce its Phase Two locations in August that will reopen beginning in September.
- Safety and wellness measures currently in place include face coverings worn by staff members at all times, daily temperature and wellness checks for staff, enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols, new sanitation stations installed throughout each location, modified floor plans and waiting areas to promote physical distancing, paperless menus and touchless payment.
Punch Bowl Social’s locations have been closed since March following stay-at-home orders and dining room closures, so moving into a reopening phase is welcome news for the company.
“This is the first step on our path to reopening across the country,” Robert Thompson, founder and CEO of Punch Bowl Social, said in the press release. “This brand has always been about bringing people together and creating social connections. We need that now more than ever, and with our expansive, open floorplans we can do that in a way that will make people feel, for a moment, a renormalization of life.”
Its path to reach Phase One of reopening has been difficult. It lost its non-controlling backer Cracker Barrel, which originally invested $140 million, and was at risk of foreclosure. But Punch Bowl has been working closely with its lender to find a solution that works in everyone’s interest. Punch Bowl Social permanently closed two locations in early June following a disagreement over lease terms with a landlord, but the eatertainment chain said it would move forward with reopening its remaining 18 locations in the coming months. With Punch Bowl Social’s large floor plans, the company can still operate with reduced capacity while having 600 people practice social distancing, Thompson previously told Restaurant Dive.
The reopenings are a positive sign for the hard-hit eatertainment industry, which was once thought to be the hottest segment in the restaurant segment. But with these companies reliant on people coming into their locations, offering takeout and delivery hasn’t been a part of a solution to maintain revenue.
Chuck E. Cheese, which tried to offer off-premise birthday parties and delivery, declared bankruptcy on Thursday. Dave & Buster’s, which has raised over $100 million from common stock sales to Jeffries, is at risk of defaulting and had to furlough 15,000 hourly employees following store closures in March. Other chains like Main Event Entertainment, Pinstripes and Topgolf were forced to temporarily close their locations.
Topgolf began reopening locations in May with social distancing measures in place, such as clear dividers between tables to separate customers. Dave & Buster’s also began reopening locations in June. But these chains may not be out of the woods yet, as a resurgence of coronavirus cases has forced some states to slow down their reopening efforts.