“The severe decrease in restaurant traffic has severely decreased our cash flow and inflicted a tremendous financial blow to our business,” CEO David Overton wrote to landlords in a letter obtained by the Eater website.
Restaurants and restaurant workers have struggled with closures and takeout/delivery-only models in many areas impacted by the outbreaks. Yum! Brands, which owns chains such as KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, said it is closing some 7,000 restaurants due to the pandemic. Waffle House, famous for having a logistics network that keeps its locations operating during disasters, said it was closing more than 400 of its 2,000 locations.
Cheesecake Factory said this same climate would make it impossible for the company to pay rent.
“Due to these extraordinary events, I am asking for your patience and, frankly, your help,” Overton wrote, adding that he hoped to begin making rent payments “as soon as reasonably possible.”
CFO Matthew Clark told People magazine that the company hopes to lean on its “strong, longstanding relationships” with landlords.
“We are certain that with their partnership, we will be able to work together to weather this storm in the appropriate manner,” Clark said.
According to Statista, Cheesecake Factory operates close to 300 locations in the United States and Canada and employs some 45,000 workers.
Some on Twitter hailed the restaurant chain for unexpectedly championing a cause favored by many who are struggling to make ends meet after losing work due to the pandemic:
Who had money on Cheesecake Factory starting the revolution? https://t.co/JiSwEJ31Wx
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) March 25, 2020
— Jeff Sharlet (@JeffSharlet) March 25, 2020
If the Cheesecake Factory said “nah” then I also will be participating in this “nah” movement on April 1. https://t.co/vBaZogf69f
— Edgar (@LifeOfEdgar) March 25, 2020
If we burn, you burn with us - Katniss Everdeen and also The Cheesecake Factory https://t.co/nXaIwR37Zy
— Jessica Ellis (@baddestmamajama) March 25, 2020
— Kim Kelly (@GrimKim) March 25, 2020
in solidarity with the Cheesecake Factory I will not be paying rent either https://t.co/ZF9BIethKU
— JP (@jpbrammer) March 25, 2020
Cheesecake Factory...welcome to the movement https://t.co/g08nft9QCo
— Hanif Abdurraqib (@NifMuhammad) March 25, 2020
Who had, checks notes, The Cheesecake Factory as leader of the revolution? https://t.co/0gl9FnQSkc
— Ken BUY MY BOOK NOW Wheaton (@kenwheaton) March 25, 2020
The Cheesecake Factory has told their landlords they won’t be paying rent on April 1st.
The revolution has begun.
— Travis Allen 🇺🇸 (@TravisAllen02) March 26, 2020
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.