Off the Menu: Fast food, restaurant chains report expected drop –

Restaurant News

In the restaurant industry, just like in the rest of the business world, much of the story can often be found in “the numbers.”

Over the two weeks many of the major players in food service have been reporting their first quarter results, and that data suggests just how substantial the impact of the pandemic and associated public health restrictions have been.

Chicago-based McDonald’s Corp, the nation’s largest quick service restaurant chain, released its March 2020 results, reporting that sales had dropped 13.4% overall as compared to March 2019.

Nearly all McDonald’s locations remain open for drive-thru and carry-out, screening employees for illness prior to their shifts. The chain is also operating on a somewhat-reduced menu basis.

Similarly, Yum Brands, which operates Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, posted moderate, single-digit sales declines in March.

Fast casual and casual dining restaurant chains, which are more dependent on in-store dining, experienced steep declines in sales last month. Darden Restaurants, which operates Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, reported their sales were down up to 60% when compared to March 2019.

Not every chain restaurant brand has suffered during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Domino’s Pizza, which specializes in delivery, has reported a 1.6% growth in business during the first quarter of 2020 and is currently planning to add some 10,000 new employees as the chain scales up operations.

Dallas-based Wingstop, Inc., which specializes in “wings” and similar finger-food fare at its 1200-plus U.S. locations, has so far prospered, reporting an 8.9% increase in sales since social distancing was put in place.

The chain’s business model already relied heavily on carry-out and delivery, and Wingstop has responded to the pandemic by putting in place promotions that have further boosted such sales.

Wingstop is also benefiting from a favorable shift in product cost. As the demand for chicken breast portions has soared in supermarkets, poultry processors working to meet that demand are as a result churning out a glut of chicken wings. That market oversupply has led to a drop in the wholesale price of jumbo wing portions, Wingstop’s primary ingredient “buy.”

A consortium of area restaurants has joined together to sponsor a fundraiser for first responders. “Stuff the Bus – Feed the Fight in Western Mass” is an effort being led by Peter Pan Bus Lines and the Bean Restaurant Group. The objective of the initiative is show support for area “first responders” and front-line health care workers by providing lunch deliveries. Each day a Peter Pan bus will deliver lunches to selected area first responders and health care professionals.

The fundraising effort has set a goal of $25,000, with donations being accepted at

Restaurants helping in this effort include Frigo’s Foods, Coffee Cup Bakery, Mom & Rico’s Specialty Market, Delaney’s Market, and others.

Partner’s Restaurant in Feeding Hills has taken the family meal pack strategy a step beyond the competition by offering a “Family Breakfast Special.”

The deal, which is promoted as serving from four to six people, includes pancakes, French toast, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, and home fries. Priced at $39.95, the Breakfast Special is priced at $39.95 and can be placed either by phone (413-786-0975) or online at Delivery is available in West Springfield, Feeding Hills, and Agawam.

Breakfast hours at Partners are Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Figaro Ristorante in Enfield has updated their menu of family specials. Recent offerings include ziti and meatballs, chicken Marsala with ziti marinara, eggplant rollatini, and a full-sized lasagna.

All meals, except for the lasagna, are sized for four average appetites; the lasagna is enough for eight or more.

Salad and bread are also included.

Figaro Ristorante is open daily from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and meals can be ordered for pickup by calling (860) 745-2414.

The restaurant posts its weekly to-go menu at its Facebook page,

Lattitude Restaurant in West Springfield has been presenting its contemporary American cuisine on a “takeout Friday and Saturday” menu.

The line up includes choices such as a smoked beef brisket sandwich, pan-fried pork Milanese, shrimp and scallop pasta, and braised beef short rib.

The phones open for takeout orders at 3 p.m.; call the restaurant at (413) 241-8888 to choose your dinner.

Posto by the Federal in Longmeadow has announced that, effective with Easter Dinner pickup orders on April 12, the restaurant will discontinue all service, including takeout and pickup orders, until further notice.

Check Posto’s web page at for future updates.

Hanna Devine’s Restaurant in Ware is promoting a weekly takeout and delivery menu for food, beer, and wine. Available from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the menu includes main course choices such as steak tips, seafood casserole, chicken parmigiana, and buffalo chicken mac & cheese.

Along with their food selections, the restaurant is offering an assortment of draft beers sealed in 64-ounce containers as well as selected full bottles from the restaurant’s wine list.

Also part of Hanna Devine’s response to the pandemic situation are “Q Cash” gift certificates. Offered at $20, each Q Cash gift certificate can be redeemed for $40 worth of dining once social distancing restrictions are lifted.

Hanna Devine’s answers at (413) 277-0707.

No matter how bleak the outlook for the restaurant industry might seem at the moment, there are still entrepreneurial types out there ready to seize on opportunities.

Christina Jancilia, the owner of Marie Janes Cannabis Connection in Corvallis, OR, has added made-in-house pizza to her cannabis dispensary’s menu of options.

Available for pickup or delivery along with a customer’s favorite cannabis product, pizzas at Marie Janes include the “Acapulco Gold” (a basic cheese pie) and the “Maui Waui” (Hawaiian pizza) to a “Reefer Madness” pizza that’s topped with red onion, bacon, and barbecued chicken. None of the pies at Marie Janes have cannabis as an ingredient.

In starting the program, Jancilia made a commitment to a quality food experience, hiring an award-winning pizza chef to develop her pie program. The dispensary’s trademarked “Pot & Pizza” service claims to be the first of its kind offered by a licensed dispensary.

Marie Janes’ menu can be seen at the operation’s web site,

The current shift to pick-up and delivery only can be seen as a chance for customers to be a bit adventurous when ordering food for at-home enjoyment. Being on “house arrest” doesn’t have to mean just fast food and pizza.

One example of a non-typical prepared food option that can be accessed by delivery is Hummingbird Restaurant on Orange Street in Springfield. Specializing in Jamaican food, Hummingbird offers delivery through Grubhub.

The restaurant offers traditional fare such as jerk chicken, jerk pork, and curried goat as well as hot beef patty and various Jamaican-style porridges.

In addition to delivery, Hummingbird offers pick-up service from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Their telephone number is (413) 734-3490.

Hugh Robert is a faculty member in Holyoke Community College’s hospitality and culinary arts program and has nearly 45 years of restaurant and educational experience. Robert can be reached on-line at [email protected]

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