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Old-School Italian-American Chain Frankie and Benny’s Will Cut Over 3,000 Jobs

Owner The Restaurant Group says COVID-19 has gutted its “leisure division,” with over 100 restaurants closing permanently

Frankie & Bennys logo seen at one of its U.K. restaurants
The chain will close over half its estate
Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Casual dining behemoth, The Restaurant Group will close 120 Frankie and Benny’s restaurants in the U.K., after telling managers that the novel coronavirus pandemic has gutted its “leisure division.” In an email reported by the BBC, the company told senior staff that “many sites are no longer viable to trade and will remain closed permanently [...] The Covid-19 crisis has significantly impacted our ability to trade profitably, so we’ve taken the tough decision to close these restaurants now.”

The closures will put around 3,000 currently furloughed workers out of jobs, with all-day British restaurant Garfunkel’s also affected. The Restaurant Group signalled its intention to cut down its leisure division — restaurants in cinemas, shopping centres, and retail parks — as early as September 2019, but the suddenness and scale of these closures are a shock to staff. One staff member told the BBC that “I’m angry, as they feel as though staff are disposable,” and the terms for staff are not yet clear, with the coronavirus job retention scheme not requiring employers to contribute to its wage replacement before August.

The group had already put Tex-Mex chain Chiquito — not part of the leisure division — into administration at the start of lockdown, with Wagamama so far unaffected.

Wagamama

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