At Boston Market, small group food orders have grown exponentially, which may offset the losses to the fast-casual restaurant's catering business and signal that families are following government advice to reduce the number of gatherings for Thanksgiving. Limit dinner, President Randy Miller told CNBC on Wednesday.
"I am optimistic that we will actually exceed sales last year," he said in an appearance on "Power Lunch". "This year we're seeing exactly what we saw at Easter. We've increased our banquet meals threefold."
In what he referred to as "banquet meals" that can feed up to eight people, Miller said sales are in triple digits over the Thursday holidays, reflecting the growth in banquet sales for Easter in April, a Christian holiday that is traditionally is exemplified by fashion clothes and family dinners in the US
Easter sales rose up to 160% from 2019, Miller said. He noted that Thanksgiving sales appear to have already surpassed that measure, up 172% on Wednesday.
Banquet meals for groups of 12 are also available, although Miller did not provide a number. Boston Market is known for selling homemade, family-friendly dishes, including staples like fried chicken, meatloaf, and mashed potatoes.
“Where we saw the decline was in our catering business, which is a significant part of our business,” he said, “but those declines were really offset by what we saw in our heat-and-serve banquet Meals. "
Boston Market, a subsidiary of Engage Brands LLC, has nearly 350 locations in 29 states and Puerto Rico, according to its website. Engage Brands, a Pennsylvania-based operator of Pizza Hut and Checkers, acquired the restaurant chain from Sun Capital Partners Inc. in April.
The company was founded in the suburbs of Boston and is headquartered in Colorado. However, the strongest presence is in the Northeast and Midwest as well as California, Florida and Texas.
With the US making a habit of breaking new coronavirus cases and deaths every day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising Americans to change their Thanksgiving plans this year. Rather than throwing traditional large parties, the agency recommends that families and friends confine their celebrations to their households in order to contain the rapid spread of the contagion.
Miller said all of his restaurants will be open on Thursday and that restaurants in some parts of the country have already reached order capacity.
"It's interesting to see the numbers jump by leaps and bounds in the four through six (banquet meals)," Miller said. "I think that means Americans are following the advice of the CDC and the states by restricting the number of people they have at their gatherings."
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 12.7 million people in the United States have tested positive for Covid-19, the sometimes fatal disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and the virus has been linked to more than 261,000 deaths in the country, according to data compiled by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
The Boston Market has faced declines in sales over the past few years, causing the company to close dozen of locations in 2019. System-wide revenue fell by around 10% from $ 557 million in 2018 to $ 501 million in 2019, according to Technomic, a food service industry consultant.
System-wide revenue declined by almost 10% from 2018 to 2019, according to Restaurant Business sister company Technomic. During that time, the company lost 14% of its units, dropping to 390 stores in 2019.