If the COVID-19 pandemic was a test of how well restaurants can adapt to chaos, BurgerFi passed with flying colors.
The 119-unit chain not only opened its first drive-thru location in Hamburg, Kentucky, in late 2020, but it also debuted nine delivery-only ghost kitchens with REEF Technology and Epic Kitchens. The better burger brand launched curbside pickup through its digital channels, as well.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise BurgerFi fulfilled more than 1.61 million delivery and app orders last year, resulting in $38.9 million in sales, or a mix of roughly 30 percent. Digital and delivery order volume in 2020 increased more than 41 percent year-over-year, while sales volume lifted more than 64 percent. In Q4 alone, delivery and digital sales skyrocketed more than 80 percent.
“I am incredibly proud of our team’s adaptability and the strategic investments we made in our digital platforms to provide a better omnichannel customer experience,” said CEO Julio Ramirez in a statement. “These investments allowed us to recover same store sales sequentially since the start of the pandemic.
BurgerFi, QSR’s 2020 Breakout Brand of the Year, made headlines in June 2020 when it announced a $100 million merger with OPES Acquisition Corp. to go public. Six months later, the company began trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the ticker symbol “BFI.”
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The fast casual opened 11 stores in 2020, and plans to open roughly 30 more in 2021 throughout Southeast and Mid-Atlantic markets. So far this year, BurgerFi has opened four locations, including another drive-thru unit in Nevada in March. Eight restaurants are currently under construction, and more drive-thru units are on the way. Internationally, the chain plans to unveil its first Saudi Arabia store in Q4 as part of its multi-unit agreement with Food Supplies Co.
“I commend the entire organization’s ability to not only adapt to the unprecedented challenges experienced this year in the food industry, but also the work being done to lay the foundation for growth as we embark into the new year,” said Executive Chairman Ophir Sternberg in a statement. “As I look at the number of BurgerFi’s under development, the recent investments in digital capabilities, the unique expansion opportunities ahead and the bolstered management team and board, I believe that we are just beginning to tap into our true growth potential. We look forward to introducing consumers around the globe to our best-in-class menu.”
In Q4, same-store sales at company-owned restaurants decline 5 percent year-over year. Total revenue increased 12 percent to $9.8 million and adjusted EBITDA grew 19 percent to 1.2 million. Restaurant-level operating margin improved 540 basis points to 15.1 percent compared to 9.7 percent in the prior year, driven primarily by lower labor costs, partially offset by higher third-party delivery fees.
For the full year, comps dropped 15 percent, while total revenue lifted 2 percent to $34.3 million and adjusted EBITDA dropped from $4.1 million to $2.2 million.
BurgerFi also announced that it regained compliance with Nasdaq after filing its annual report for the year ending December 31, 2020. The brand had previously postponed the filing to make sure it was in compliance with newly issued SEC guidelines.
“We are pleased to have regained compliance with Nasdaq listing requirements,” Ramirez said. “With this behind us, we look forward to continue executing our growth strategy in 2021 and providing customers with a better burger experience that is consistently recognized as best-in-class.”