“I think you're going to see more [indoor] dining being curtailed,” Niccol told FOX Business’ Liz Claman. “We were on kind of a nice progression of bringing it back across the country. But ... I anticipate that the dining room business is going to continue to be under pressure.”
As of Thursday, 26 U.S. states have reported record or near-record coronavirus cases, with half a million new cases popping up in the last week.
Niccol said consumer psychology is another factor weighing on the industry as pandemic uncertainty wages on and diners lack the confidence to enjoy indoor eating.
“I would love for it to continue to progress the way it was just a couple of weeks ago," he said. "But I think, unfortunately, the psychology [of] the consumer and then the data that's coming out is going to result in us having to weigh more heavily on our digital and off-premise business.”
Niccol added that now more than ever, it’s important for restaurants to adapt to the changing environment to ensure customer safety and protect business as a whole.
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“What we've definitely seen is, as the weather has gotten colder, the cases have spiked and then places are taking action around not allowing [indoor] dining experiences, it's going to become more and more important to be able to provide a great off-premise or digital experience,” he said.
“What we want to do with our employees is ensure they can have the confidence to feel safe about working,” he explained. “And then we want to have all our customers feel confident about the experience they're having, both [in terms of] safety as well as giving them the access that they want.”