The company behind high street chain Chiquito has announced that it will permanently close 61 branches of the Tex-Mex chain, resulting in the loss of almost 1,500 jobs.
Currently, the Coronavirus outbreak means that all restaurants in the UK have been forced to close, following strict government guidelines. However, The Restaurant Group, who own Chiquito as well as other popular chains such as Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s, said that of 80 Chiquito branches in the UK, 61 will not reopen.
The group also announced it is permanently closing the 11 existing sites of its Food and Fuel pub chain, which has sites in London neighbourhoods such as Chelsea, Chiswick and Crouch End.
The two brands were already facing financial difficulty, with Coronavirus believed to have been the final nail in the coffin. A spokesperson for The Restaurant Group said that the two brands were already predicted to make a loss in 2020 and that “Covid-19 has had an immediate and significant impact on trading across the group.”
The last two years have seen several large restaurant chains face financial struggles, as the public turn their back on mid-market chains in favour of independent restaurants. Big names such as Byron and Strada have been forced to close sites, while celebrity chef Jamie Oliver lost almost all of his UK restaurant empire in 2019.
Last September, The Restaurant Group announced that a string of Chiquito sites would close after leases expired or they reached a contractual break period. These latest closures account for around 10% of The Restaurant Group’s portfolio, which currently boasts 650 sites.
The 20 surviving Chiquito sites will reopen once the government ban on restaurants and other social venues has been lifted.
The Restaurant Group isn’t the only one in the industry struggling. Sandwich chain Eat announced it was closing permanently after 24 years.