clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Chains Are Using the Pandemic as an Opportunity to Buy Independent Restaurants

Plus, you could drink beer made from toilet water, and more news to start your day

A beige building exterior with a red Chipotle sign mike mozart/flickr
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food and Travel Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

Brands like Dunkin’ and Chipotle are gobbling up real estate left vacant by independent restaurants

Though all restaurants have been hit hard during the pandemic, national chains have fared better than most. And they are using that leverage to seek out storefronts that have been left behind by independent restaurants that have been forced to shutter. Business Insider outlines how brands like Domino’s, Dunkin’ and Chipotle are “paving the way for chains to take over the American restaurant industry.” For instance, executives from Dunkin’ said that the closure of independent coffee shops provided “new development opportunities” for franchisees. And Chipotle isn’t even waiting for restaurants to close, instead reaching out to struggling restaurants and offering to buy out their leases.

Similarly, a group of fast food executives including people from Ruby Tuesday, &Pizza, and Qdoba have formed the FAST Acquisition Corp., a blank-check company whose goal is to buy into the restaurant and hospitality industry. “We believe there is a strong real estate opportunity, with many underperforming concepts shuttering units, and landlords providing flexibility on lease terms. We believe that now is the best time to apply a lifetime of learning to this opportunity,” the company writes in its SEC filing.

Because of the lack of support from the federal and local government, the door is now open for chains to take over these small businesses, leaving us with a Demolition Man-esque landscape where every restaurant is a Taco Bell. Sure, it might not end up being that dramatic, but it still sounds deeply unpleasant.

And in other news...

  • Amethyst Coffee in Colorado is raising prices 50 percent in order to pay employees a living wage, proving how deflated both food costs and wages were in the first place. [BusinessDen]
  • Employees say Ruby Tuesday is closing restaurants without notifying staff. [BI]
  • Snoop Dogg launches a wine label, because that’s what celebrities do now. [CNN]
  • Canadian brewery Village Brewery is making beer from treated municipal wastewater, in order to draw attention to and try to solve the issue of how much water is used in making beer. [Modern Farmer]
  • A study from a USDA rep says the organization’s current guidelines do not prevent salmonella in poultry. [New Food Magazine]
  • The Beyond Meat takeover continues with the company’s new online store. [Beyond Meat]
  • A study of 2,000 Americans shows we are sick of cooking. [Fox]
  • McDonald’s is investigating whether former CEO Steve Easterbrook, who was forced out after having a relationship with an employee, covered up the misconduct of other employees. [Detroit News]