The coronavirus pandemic is splitting the restaurant industry in two. Big, well capitalized chains like
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.
Domino’s Pizza Inc.
are gaining customers and adding stores while tens of thousands of local eateries go bust.
Larger operators generally have the advantages of more capital, more leverage on lease terms, more physical space, more geographic flexibility and prior expertise with drive-throughs, carryout and delivery. A similarly uneven recovery is unfolding across the business world as big firms have tended to fare far better during the pandemic than small rivals, thinning the ranks of entrepreneurs who could eventually become major U.S. employers. In the retail world, bigger chains like
are posting strong sales while many small shops struggle to stay open.
The divide between large and small restaurants surfaced in the summer. Chipotle more than tripled its online business sales in the second quarter