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In addition to our normal news coverage, What Now Atlanta is tracking ways Atlanta’s businesses are adapting to the novel coronavirus and the challenges it brings to brick-and-mortars.
Ted’s Montana Grill has permanently closed two Atlanta-area locations and laid off seven employees at its corporate headquarters, CEO George McKerrow in a telephone interview Tuesday told What Now Atlanta.
“It’s a harsh reality of the times we’re in,” McKerrow said.
The shuttered locations—Cumberland Mall and in Decatur, at 201 W Ponce de Leon Ave—are the only two outposts across the Ted’s Montana Grill portfolio to close amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however.
“Both of these restaurants were decent performers for us but as we neared the end of each location’s short-term lease, it didn’t make savvy business sense to keep either open with the strict capacity and social distancing guidelines,” McKerrow said.
“Closing any of our restaurants is extremely regrettable but we’ve done the best we can to keep as many of our employees with us as possible. “
Dorinda Quarshie, the proprietor (general manager) of the Cumberland Mall location, will oversee the company’s new Westside Village restaurant which is set to debut August 10, 2020.
It’s possible that a Cumberland Mall-area Ted’s Montana could resurface in 2021 depending on how the restaurant industry rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic, according to McKerrow.
“The public is afraid of restaurants right now unfortunately and it’s unfair and wrong,” McKerrow said.
“People will shove themselves into a Home Depot or grocery store but restaurants have been signaled out as unsafe which is ironic because we’re the cleanest and most sanitized retail operation you can patronize, even pre-COVID-19.”
The novel coronavirus is only one of several factors negatively impacting the restaurant industry in recent years, according to McKerrow.
“There has been more negative outside impact to our industry in the last five years than in my 50-year history in the business,” McKerrow said.
Among those challenges are a push for a $15 minimum wage, the increasing cost of doing business (i.e., rent, utilities, insurance, etc.), and with “over a million restaurants in the U.S.,” there’s been a “conflation in restaurant capacity that has doubled the pressure on our P&L.”
“At best we make a nickel on every dollar and when you take away 50 chairs you take away 50 percent of our profits,” McKerrow said.
“The shutdown was immediate but for all of us in this business, the recovery will be long and slow.”
Ted’s Montana Grill has reopened its dining rooms and patios and a list of open Atlanta-area locations can be found here.
“It’s a tricky road ahead and only the strong will survive,” McKerrow said.
“Please support your neighborhood restaurants, come dine with us, and have some fun.”
[Editor’s note: The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is rapidly evolving as is its effect on Atlanta, and the City’s businesses and its residents. Click here for What Now Atlanta’s ongoing coverage of the crisis. For guidance and updates on the pandemic, please visit the C.D.C. website.]