Yum’s KFC Closes Dining Rooms at Company-Owned Restaurants in Florida

July 14, 2020 Updated: July 14, 2020

NEW YORK—The fried chicken chain KFC has closed dining rooms in corporate-owned stores in Florida because of the escalation in coronavirus cases in the state, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

The letter, from KFC U.S. Chief Operating Officer Monica Rothgery to franchisees on Monday, said its own Florida restaurants would operate only drive-thru and suggested owner-operators consider doing the same in “hot spots” where new cases are surging, including Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas.

“This guidance is part of our continued efforts to prioritize the health of our team members, customers, and the communities where they live and work,” the company said in a statement.

KFC, a unit of Yum! Brands, has 40 company stores in Florida. It said only about 5 percent of KFC’s U.S. restaurants have opened dine-in seating.

Florida recorded more than 12,600 new coronavirus cases on Monday, its second-highest daily total since the outbreak began, coinciding with the state’s attempt to revive tourism and attract visitors to the recently reopened Disney World.

With restaurants among the hardest-hit sectors economically, some independent restaurants and smaller chains have sought to reopen dining rooms as quickly as allowed, with extra safety measures in place.

But fast food giants have not been in such a rush because their drive-thru sales have mostly made up for lost walk-in business during the pandemic.

Customer transactions at major quick-service chains were 9 percent lower in the week ended July 5 compared with the same period the previous year. That is an improvement over the 13 percent year-over-year drop from the prior week, data provider the NPD Group Inc said on Monday.

By contrast, full-service sit-down restaurants still had 30 percent fewer transactions than the previous year, NPD found.

Earlier this month, McDonald’s Corp delayed reopening dining rooms as states enacted new restrictions, the Wall Street Journal reported.

By Hilary Russ