Rabinovitch noted BurgeFi is seeing different levels of recovery depending on geography, with several parts of the franchise network suffering steeper declines. About a half-dozen franchised and licensed restaurants are still temporarily closed because they’re either in airports or other nontraditional areas that have experienced less traffic. But those outlets are expected to come back online as BurgerFi heads into the fall. In terms of rising COVID cases nationwide, Rabinovitch said it’s a concern, but that the chain hasn’t seen any meaningful change in behavior from customers.
To be cautious, BurgerFi required employees to start wearing masks, CEO Julio Ramirez said.
“We're dealing with it,” Ramirez said. “Obviously, I just heard in the news this morning that 50 percent of Floridians are vaccinated and that matches the U.S. number, even though Florida gets a lot of attention. But I think of all the tourists that come to Florida, I think that's also part of what we're dealing with. But so far, we're navigating it and obviously it's a fluid process and we're dealing with it, working with it closely. So far, we've been able to navigate it.”
If things were to shift again, Rabinovitch said BurgerFi has the proper digital infrastructure to handle the change. The chain earned $17.3 million in digital sales in the second quarter, which was a 12 percent increase compared to last year. The channel mixed 39 percent in the quarter.
Customers can not only order pickup and delivery through the chain’s native website and app, but also from the largest third-party delivery providers in the marketplace, whether that's from brick-and-mortar stores or ghost kitchens. BurgerFi has more than 25 ghost kitchens operating across the U.S. in partnership with REEF Kitchens and Epic Kitchens. BurgerFi expects to open 15 to 20 additional ghost kitchens by the end of the year. About 70 percent of the delivery-only outlets are in markets where BurgerFi already has a streetside store.
“In terms of the revenue projection for ghost kitchens, it's still very early in our journey on this,” Rabinovitch said. “We do have some initial estimates, but as we open them, we're seeing some with very, very high volumes and we see others that are in development. And I think our oldest kitchen is just about a year now, so we're not at the point where we want to guide on what we think those would do by location. They are, obviously, going to be the lower revenue per than a franchise location because it's a delivery-only kitchen. But we'll hope that as we get some empirical data that we'd be able to share, we would.”