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Blue Bell Suspends Operations at Second Listeria-Contaminated Factory

Blue Bell Suspends Operations at Second Listeria-Contaminated Factory

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Listeria has now been identified at two of Blue Bell’s factories in the last several weeks.

Blue Bell Ice Cream has decided to suspend operations at its factory in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where officials traced the production of ice cream contaminated by listeria, a deadly foodborne pathogen.

According to The Associated Press, “the now-recalled ice cream product — cups of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla — is not sold in retail locations and is shipped in bulk to ‘institutional accounts’ such as hospitals in 23 states that comprise less than 5 percent of the company's sales.”

In March, Blue Bell announced the recall of 10 products that tested positive for listeria, traced back to a machine at the company’s Brenham, Texas, facility, which was subsequently shut down.

That outbreak was responsible for the deaths of three people, who contracted listeria during hospitalization. Officials are currently investigating whether the patients contracted the illness from listeria-contaminated ice cream products distributed directly by the hospital.

"We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we are doing everything possible to provide our consumers with safe products and to preserve the trust we have built with them and their families for more than a century," the company said in a statement.

"Once our investigation is complete and we have made all necessary improvements, it will return to operation," according to the company's statement. "Our other plants continue to operate and supply our products to retail stores and institutional customers."

Welcome to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission

AUSTIN — As students across the state prepare to celebrate summer, agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission are ramping up efforts to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors. The agency, which regulates all aspects of the Texas alcohol trade, uses underage compliance operations (UCOs) to identify retailers who violate the state’s age limit on alcohol sales. It’s a crime in Texas to sell alcohol to any person younger than 21. During a UCO, a minor working for TABC attempts to purchase alcohol from a retailer while under surveillance by TABC agents. Businesses found violating the law could face administrative action, such as a fine or temporary suspension of their license to sell alcohol, while the employee who made the sale could face a misdemeanor criminal charge. UCOs have been an important part of TABC’s toolbox for years, but the pace of operations slowed during 2020 as the agency observed COVID-19 safety protocols. “While we’re extremely fortunate that the vast majority of alcohol retailers do the right thing, these underage compliance operations play a critical role when it comes to keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors,” said Bentley Nettles, TABC Executive Director. “Now that Texas’ bars and restaurants are open at full capacity, TABC is committed to ensuring retailers are empowered to decline any sale of alcohol that places public safety at risk.” TABC agents are observing strict health and safety protocols to protect all UCO participants. Participants undergo a COVID-19 rapid test and are screened for contact with the virus before each night’s operation. For more information about TABC and underage compliance operations, visit Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officer [email protected]

TABC Urges Businesses To Complete New Licensing Applications by July 31

AUSTIN — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is urging members of the alcoholic beverage industry to prepare now for a month-long pause in accepting applications for new licenses or permits. The pause must happen for TABC to launch new technology that will revolutionize how the industry conducts business with the agency, letting them easily complete TABC tasks anytime and anywhere. The pause begins Aug. 1 and will remain in place until Sept. 1. TABC will be unable to accept new license or permit applications — including applications for new primary licenses, subordinate licenses, and supplemental changes — during that time. The pause will allow agency staff to migrate industry members’ data from the current system to the new Alcohol Industry Management System (AIMS), which launches Sept. 1. Businesses should view specific instructions and deadlines now on the TABC website. AIMS will usher in a new way of working with TABC that is easier, more efficient and less disruptive to businesses. Texans will be able to apply for a new license or renew their current license entirely online, replacing an old system that required applicants to submit paperwork directly to a TABC office. Business owners can also more easily track their application status, print out licensing forms and required signs, and apply for other TABC programs and initiatives. The month-long licensing pause will affect any industry member looking to apply for an original permit, TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “We certainly understand that this month-long data migration represents a challenge to Texas alcoholic beverage industry members, which is why we’re urging all affected business owners to prepare now,” Nettles said. “Our goal is to minimize the impact to the industry we serve while allowing us to hit the ground running when AIMS comes online Sept. 1.” TABC urges business owners planning to submit an original licensing application to complete their paperwork, as outlined on the TABC 2021 Changes webpages and TABC Rules, and submit payment before July 31. Regular licensing services will resume Sept. 1 using the new AIMS technology. The agency will continue to process applications for new licenses and permits completed by July 31 during the pause, and renewal applications will not be affected. Sept. 1 marks the effective date of several new state laws related to the alcoholic beverage industry, including the merging of multiple license and permit types, as well as changes in malt beverage rules and license fees. To learn more, visit the TABC 2021 Changes webpage. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officer [email protected]

INDUSTRY NOTICE: Steps to Legally Offer Alcohol-To-Go Under House Bill 1024

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed House Bill 1024 (alcohol-to-go) into law and it is now in effect, replacing the COVID-19 protocols for selling alcohol to go. This law allows eligible Mixed Beverage Permit (MB) holders and Private Clubs (N/NB/NE) to sell beer, wine and cocktails to consumers for pickup or delivery if sold with a food order. To make sure you are ready to sell alcohol to go under the new law, review these three items: Read the alcohol-to-go guidance for Mixed Beverage (MB) and Private Club (N/NE/NB) permit holders. Ensure that you have a current Food and Beverage Certificate (FB) issued by TABC. If you do not have the FB Certificate, submit an application as soon as possible. Under the law, you may not begin or continue selling alcohol to go without this. TABC will do everything it can to timely process and issue FB Certificates to qualified applicants. To help the struggling restaurant industry, TABC will temporarily use discretion on enforcing the FB Certificate requirement for businesses that make good faith efforts to timely submit their FB Certificate applications and payments but have not yet been issued the certificate by TABC. However, if an applicant receives notice that TABC has denied their request for an FB Certificate, the applicant may no longer conduct alcohol-to-go activities. To submit your FB Certificate application, mail (do not email) a completed L-AFB form and a payment of $776 (application fee) to either of these addresses: TABC Licensing Division 5806 Mesa Drive Austin TX 78731 TABC Licensing Division P.O. BOX 13127 Austin, TX 78731-312 Note: If you previously submitted an application using the L-LRC form and those instructions, TABC will still accept that application and you do not need to submit a new application. After submitting your FB Certificate application to TABC, please post a copy of your FB Certificate application next to your permit at your location. This will help TABC’s Audit and Enforcement personnel in using discretion on enforcing the FB Certificate requirement. Alcohol delivery drivers are encouraged to take the Texas Responsible Alcohol Delivery (TRAD) certification course. This course teaches delivery drivers how to safely deliver alcohol to consumers in Texas. Businesses that hold a TABC Consumer Delivery Permit could be protected from liabilities if their drivers are TRAD certified. The course could also provide some protections to individual delivery drivers.

Alcohol-To-Go Is Now Permanent Law of the Land in Texas

AUSTIN — Texas law now lets customers and businesses safely enjoy alcohol-to-go options. Temporary waivers to provide relief to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic have been updated and made permanent, thanks to recent action by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature. The change comes as part of House Bill 1024, which was approved by the Legislature on April 28 and signed into law by Gov. Abbott on May 12. The law, which took effect immediately after it was signed by the governor, authorizes Mixed Beverage and Private Club permittees to sell alcohol — including mixed drinks — for pickup by customers or delivery, as long as they meet the requirements in the law. Certain other permittees, such as Wine and Beer Retailers, already had authority to send alcohol to go. “This new law will help businesses keep their doors open and ensure Texans keep their jobs,” said TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles. “TABC is grateful to Governor Abbott and members of the Texas Legislature for their leadership on this critically important measure. And a big thank you goes out to the efforts of alcohol retailers who have been safely and responsibly selling alcohol to go under last year’s waiver.” Under the new law, Mixed Beverage and Private Club permittees may: Allow customers to pick up alcohol (i.e., mixed drinks, wine and malt beverages, which will include both beer and ale starting Sept. 1) with food orders. Deliver alcohol with food orders to customers. Use third parties, including agents of the retailer or contractors holding a Consumer Delivery Permit (CD), to make deliveries on their behalf. Alcoholic beverages such as wine or malt beverages must be in their original containers or tamper-proof containers sealed by the retailer and properly labeled when sold for pickup or delivery. Distilled spirits should be sold in an original single-serving container of 375 milliliters maximum. Mixed drinks that contain distilled spirits must be in a tamper-proof container sealed by the retailer with a label that includes the retailer’s business name and the words “alcoholic beverage.” Permit holders must follow all requirements in the law, including holding a Food and Beverage Certificate (FB). Alcoholic beverages picked up or delivered under this authority may not be transported in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. TABC also offers the Texas Responsible Alcohol Delivery Training course specifically for drivers who will be delivering alcoholic beverages directly to consumers. For more information, including guidelines on alcohol delivery, visit View TABC Alcohol Delivery and Pickup webpage. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officer [email protected]

INDUSTRY NOTICE: House Bill 1024 Pickup and Delivery of Alcoholic Beverages for Off-Premises Consumption

Eligible Mixed Beverage Permit (MB) holders and Private Clubs are now authorized to sell beer, wine and cocktails with food orders that are purchased for pickup or delivery under the following conditions: Retailer eligibility to offer consumer pickup or delivery to consumers: Hold a Mixed Beverage Permit (MB) and a Food and Beverage Certificate (FB) for the permitted premises or Hold a Private Club Registration Permit (N) and a Food and Beverage Certificate (FB) for the permitted premises. General authority — Eligible Mixed Beverage (MB) and Private Club (N) permit holders may: Allow customers to pick up alcohol with food orders, Deliver alcohol with food orders to customers, Use third parties acting as an agent of the MB or N to make deliveries, Use independent contractors holding a Consumer Delivery Permit (CD) to make deliveries on their behalf. Restrictions on what may be picked up or delivered — Eligible MB and N permittees may allow pickup or delivery of any number of malt beverages (defined as beer and ale prior to Sept. 1, 2021), wines and/or distilled spirits ONLY WHEN: The alcohol is accompanied by a food order that was prepared on the business’s premises and Note: There is no required food-to-alcohol ratio. Malt beverages and wine are in their original container sealed by the manufacturer. Malt beverages and wine are in a tamper-proof container that is sealed by the permit holder (example: growlers of ale) and clearly labeled with the permit holder’s business name and the words “alcoholic beverage." Distilled spirits are in an original single-serving container sealed by the manufacturer and not larger than 375 milliliters (example: cocktail kit) or Distilled spirits are mixed with other beverages or garnishes and stored in a tamper-proof container (example: in-house mixed margarita) clearly labeled with the permit holder’s business name and the words “alcoholic beverage." “Tamper proof container” is defined as a “container that once sealed, clearly shows whether it has been opened. The term includes a cup or similar container that is placed into a bag that has been sealed with a zip tie or staple or sealed with shrink wrap or a similar seal.” Limits on where alcohol may be delivered: Deliveries may only be made to a location: Where the sale of that type of alcohol is legal and Within the county where the business is located, or up to 2 miles beyond the city limits in which the business is located if that city crosses a county line. Note: Permittees may NOT deliver alcohol to another licensed or permitted location. Requirements for completing the customer pickup or delivery to the customer: Recipients must not be intoxicated Recipients must present valid proof of their identity that confirms they are at least 21 years old before the alcoholic beverage is handed over to the recipient and Recipients must sign a receipt (may be electronically signed) acknowledging the pickup/delivery, OR the individual representing the permitted business (restaurant employee or third party) must acknowledge the completion of the pickup or delivery through a software application. Permit holders should retain the signed receipts or the software application data for a period of one year following the transaction and should be able to make those receipts/data available to TABC upon request for audit purposes. Restrictions on transporting alcohol Alcoholic beverages that are sealed by the permit holder and are picked up or delivered under this authority may not be transported in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. Therefore, alcoholic beverages that are sealed by the permit holder must be placed in the trunk of a vehicle the area behind the last upright seat of the vehicle, if the vehicle does not have a trunk or a glove compartment or similar storage container that is locked (See Texas Penal Code, Section 49.031(a)(2)). Revised to reflect that HB 1024 is now effective (May 12, 2021).

CBSViacom Unveils Its Rebranded Streaming Platform

Is a series based on the making of “The Godfather,” along with revivals of “Frasier” and “Inside Amy Schumer,” enough to reignite interest in a seven-year-old streaming service?

ViacomCBS executives are hoping so.

On Wednesday, the company staged a three-hour presentation previewing its newly named streaming platform, Paramount+, which will replace CBS All Access on March 4.

“This is a big day, a new day, a new beginning,” Shari Redstone, the chair of ViacomCBS, said from the Paramount lot in Los Angeles in the virtual event.

The streaming service will have an advantage in that it already has several million subscribers. But Paramount+ hits a mature market that is crowded with formidable competitors: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, Peacock, Discovery+ and Apple TV+.

The company made a slew of announcements promising new content, including a weekly show from Trevor Noah, the host of “The Daily Show” on ViacomCBS’s Comedy Central network a “Ray Donovan” film and new installments of “A Quiet Place” and “Mission: Impossible,” movie sequels that will start streaming on the service 45 days after their theatrical releases.

Kelsey Grammer will bring back Dr. Frasier Crane for the “Frasier” revival, and the company said the sketch series “Inside Amy Schumer,” off the air since 2016, would have five specials. There will also be a “Beavis and Butt-Head” movie and a revival of the animated series “Rugrats.”

“We know how to make hits,” said Bob Bakish, the chief executive of ViacomCBS. “Every streaming service has had a monster hit from one of our studios.”

The strategy of licensing its shows and films, however, is one reason that ViacomCBS is missing an awful lot from its library. It has spent the better part of two years playing the role of a so-called arms dealer, selling material to other services.

The company sold the back library of “South Park” to HBO Max for a reported $500 million. Popular series like “Jack Ryan,” produced by Paramount, have gone to Amazon. Paramount also sold the highly anticipated “Coming 2 America” sequel to Amazon for a reported $125 million last year. That film, starring Eddie Murphy, will go online the day after Paramount+ makes its debut next week.

ViacomCBS executives noted one thing that set its platform apart from Disney+ and Netflix: Its emphasis on live sports and news. National Football League games will appear on Paramount+, as will some of its news programs, including “60 Minutes+,” a spinoff of the long-running television newsmagazine with younger correspondents who recently appeared on “60 in 6,” a short-lived series from the short-lived streaming app Quibi.

A version of Paramount+ without commercials will cost $10 a month, the same price for a similar CBS All Access plan. The package with ads will be $5 a month, slightly cheaper than the current $6 tier for CBS All Access.

The company did not do itself any favors in the early going of Wednesday’s event: A streaming event touting its prowess in streaming was unexpectedly delayed by 32 minutes. (A company representative said the delay was “due to last-minute registrations.”) Investors stared at a blue screen that said little more than “ViacomCBS Streaming Event, 4:15 p.m. ET,” even as the clock ticked. Rival companies — including Disney, Apple and Discovery — have staged similar events over the last two years with a military precision.

ViacomCBS said CBS All Access and Showtime’s stand-alone streaming service had a combined 19.2 million domestic subscribers, having added a little more than a million customers over the last three months. The services have nearly 30 million global subscribers, a number that company executives told investors on Wednesday would balloon to between 65 million and 75 million by 2024.

The company has not publicly said how many subscribers are for CBS All Access alone. Showtime’s streaming service will remain separate from Paramount+.


The LAPD is a changed organization a year after the social justice protests but hardly in the ways its critics wanted. Its budget was cut by $150 million last year, then increased by 3% this year. Still, the protests have forced major changes within the department, its daily operations and the way city officials see its role in public safety.

I’m a vaccine enthusiast. My sister is a skeptic. We spent months debating the issue — and trying to preserve our relationship in the process.

A prize-winning Santa Rosa newspaper neglected accusations against Dominic Foppoli, until its former employee took the scoop to a competing paper.

Security camera footage released to local media by Young Israel of Century City synagogue on Pico Boulevard showed a man about 1 a.m. throwing a concrete slab at the building.

L.A. County’s death toll is 24,338.

A Martínez had a bumpy transition from Los Angeles sports radio to public radio. But after success at KPCC, he’s been named co-host of NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

Rep. Jay Obernolte says he will introduce a bill Tuesday asking Congress to extend federal recognition to the Mono Lake Kutzadika Paiute people.

Officials are bracing for massive crowds at Southern California beaches this Memorial Day weekend.

$1 billion in upgrades may be needed for San Diego’s nine dams, which range in age from 61 to 109 years old, officials say.

The Griffith Park incident has emerged as yet another source of conflict over the city’s handling of its recreation areas during a huge homelessness crisis.

State Laws, Politics & Policy

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a comprehensive, independent investigation into the case of Kevin Cooper, whose quadruple-murder conviction three decades ago has been under scrutiny for years.

L.A. transportation leaders decry the harms of air pollution and displacements but do not formally stop the 710 Freeway expansion

Californians would be able to legally bet on Lakers, Dodgers and Rams games at tribal casinos and horse-racing tracks under an initiative for the November 2022 ballot.

John Cox, who lost the 2018 governor’s race to Newsom, owes a media firm $100,000, an arbitrator and a judge ruled.

The California Legislature is weighing several proposals to provide financial help to residents who have suffered economic hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women who have accused Danny Masterson of rape testified that Scientology officials tried to stop them from reporting the alleged attacks to police.

What if the battery on my electric car ran dry under a Joshua tree in the middle of nowhere?

A prize-winning Santa Rosa newspaper neglected accusations against Dominic Foppoli, until its former employee took the scoop to a competing paper.

The Griffith Park incident has emerged as yet another source of conflict over the city’s handling of its recreation areas during a huge homelessness crisis.

Your morning news in less than 5 minutes on smart speakers from the Los Angeles Times

The CDC still ‘strongly encouraged’ mask use indoors for anyone who is not fully vaccinated.

In much of the state, the holiday will be the first in a long time that looks close to pre-pandemic normal.

Black residents are now twice as likely as Latinos and three times as likely as white and Asian American residents to die from COVID-19.

California’s ‘Vax for the Win’ program seeks to boost interest in vaccines by offering cash rewards. If you’ve gotten a shot, you’re already eligible.

Residents rally to save Angel’s Pantry and Community Cupboard

California will offer what appears to be the largest COVID-19 incentive in the nation: the chance for 10 residents to win $1.5 million apiece.

Increasing evidence about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and California’s low case rates convince experts it’s safe to stop wearing masks.

More than five months into the inoculation campaign, a vast gulf has opened between the most- and least-vaccinated of California’s 58 counties.

On June 15, Disneyland and California Adventure will admit out-of-state visitors for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut the theme parks.


We believe our reporting will help you make better choices that result in better businesses, better leadership, and a better global economy. Support our purposeful journalism with a free seven-day trial.

Here’s what you need to know

India pressed the US for vaccines. In a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, S Jaishankar, India’s foreign minister, brought up the US’ stockpiling of Covid-19 vaccines as well as India’s aim to expand its vaccine manufacturing capabilities.

Nepal is on the brink of a health emergency. Migrant workers returning from India have driven a surge of Covid-19, in which 40% of tests are returning positive.

China’s low fertility rate worries the army. The People’s Liberation Army, which drafts hundreds of thousands of youngsters each year, has lowered some of its education and physical standards for new recruits to keep its ranks full.

Chinese tech giants are losing value. The combined market cap of the 10 largest tech companies in China has fallen by $800 billion, or roughly 30%, since February.

Ho Chi Minh City enacts social distancing measures. Shops and restaurants will shut down until further notice, and all gatherings of more than 10 people are banned.

Opposition politicians are uniting to oust Netanyahu. The proposed replacement: Naftali Bennett, a former education minister and tech millionaire with far-right views, intent on annexing parts of the Palestinian West Bank.

Germany agreed to apologize for killing thousands in Namibia between 1904 and 1908. Germany is offering $1.35 billion to help develop the country, but Namibian leaders said the money was insufficient.

What to watch for

After a ferocious second wave of Covid-19, Delhi will slowly emerge from a six-week lockdown starting May 31. In the first phase, construction sites and factories will be permitted to resume operations, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister, said. This is designed to help daily wage workers: laborers who are assigned work—and paid—on a day-to-day basis, and whose livelihoods were devastated by the pandemic. But Kejriwal urged others to stay home, warning that Delhi would lock down again if cases rise.

A suffering capital: Through April, Delhi provided some of the most wrenching news of India’s second wave: hospitals running out of oxygen, patients begging doctors for treatment, cremation grounds so full that parks and parking lots had to be repurposed to burn dead bodies. Between April 1 and May 30, at least 13,000 people died in the city even that number is likely to be an underestimate of the full toll.

Opening up: Much of the rest of India is still locked down, so Indians will keenly watch Delhi’s tentative foray into the open, to see how the city fares. From June 7, Delhiites can move around the city for non-essential activities, but the Metro will remain suspended. The government hasn’t indicated when restaurants and non-essential shops will reopen. Delhi will thus become a test case for India’s dire dilemma: balancing the need to save lives with the need to restart a struggling economy. “It shouldn’t be the case,” Kejriwal said, “that people survive the coronavirus but die of starvation.”

Vaccines needed: Delhi has administered only around 5.3 million vaccine doses, so there’s a long way to go to reach all the 31 million or so people who live in the greater metropolitan area.

Charting US inflation

The talking point from the latest US government report on consumer spending will be the increase in prices paid by Americans for what they’re buying. Prices increased 3.6% in April 2021, compared to the same time last year.

But this increase is due to the unusual situation of the economy recovering from the shock of the pandemic, which shut down businesses and disrupted supply lines in arbitrary ways. When people want to buy goods and services that haven’t been available, they are going to find that some of the businesses that provided them closed, others need to raise prices to recover, and that supply chains have been disrupted and need to be reconstituted. These factors will drive higher prices.

This kind of inflation is not taking the Federal Reserve by surprise: It is the intentional result of its policy stance. Since last summer, the Fed has said it will sometimes aim for inflation “moderately above 2%” to ensure that it hits its goal of an average of 2% inflation over time.

Making VC more inclusive

There’s no question that there’s lots of money in venture capital (VC) these days—spending soared to a record $131 billion in 2018. But barely 1% of VC funding that year went toward Black or brown entrepreneurs.

Anthony Oni, managing partner and CEO of Elevate Future Initiative at investment firm Energy Impact Partners, has some suggestions for how VCs can approach opportunities to fund Black founders:

  • Provide space for ideation and access to world-class technology
  • Provide access to mentors and a supportive community
  • Hear and empathize with Black founders’ stories, demonstrating success against all odds

Surprising discoveries

A real-life “Schitt’s Creek.” For years now, the owner of Nipton, an 80-acre, 25-resident town an hour from Las Vegas, has been trying to sell it. The price? $2.75 million.

A Bitcoin mine was hiding in a marijauana farm. In Birmingham, UK, police raided a cannabis farm and found a Bitcoin mine that was stealing electricity from the grid.

Boris Johnson got married in secret. The British prime minister and his partner Carrie Symonds tied the knot in front of 30 guests at Westminster Cathedral.

Germs are cleaning Michelangelo’s sculptures. In the Medici Chapel in Florence, scientists and restorers are deploying bacteria to eat away at stains on marble sculptures.

Mice overrun eastern Australia. In “the worst mouse plague in living memory,” the rodents are eating their way through stores of grain, nibbling at people as they sleep, and biting the toes off chickens.

One Year Into COVID, First Watch Sees More Promise Than Ever

From a digital boom to cocktails, the nation's fastest-growing full-service brand is ready to restart its journey.

On Easter Sunday last year, the truth is, nobody had a clear view of COVID-19’s path. The U.S. had just surpassed Italy for the most fatalities at 20,000. Every state was falling under a disaster declaration for the first time in history. And yet just weeks earlier, then-President Donald Trump had said he would like to see the country “back to work” by the holiday. The virus, and setbacks that followed, remained, as ever, wildly convoluted.

At First Watch, CEO Chris Tomasso wasn’t going to play the reactionary game. The nation’s fastest-growing full-service chain temporarily shuttered its entire company-run footprint, including to-go and delivery. “Nearly impossible decisions,” Tomasso said.

By the middle of last May, First Watch began to reopen dining rooms in two markets (most are full-tilt today). And it did so as a stronger brand with a suddenly robust off-premises arm. Before COVID, guests had to call the restaurant to get takeout. Now, business outside the four walls was up 600 percent.

Roughly a year removed from that Easter decision, Tomasso says he’s reflected often. Personally, professionally, and through the lens of where the brand is today.

“You know, you’d like to grade yourself on each of them and then collectively and overall,” he says in an interview with FSR. “I think because we really focused on our employees and putting them first, I give us pretty high scores for the decisions that we made. Not only for the employees, but for the best interest of the business.”

Importantly, the story has changed at First Watch. It’s gone from a protect-and-reflect tale to something far more comfortable for the brand. Despite First Watch’s strategic pause, it still managed to open about 20 restaurants last year.


From the end of 2018 to the end of 2019, the chain reported net growth of 71 locations. Nobody in the category was even close. There wasn’t a single chain outside of First Watch to eclipse the teens in terms of net-unit expansion. Black Bear Diner, the nearest, added 18 restaurants from 120 to 138. First Watch even opened 12 more stores than Shake Shack.

Also, if you go back to 2006—Tomasso’s first with the brand—there were just 60 restaurants. First Watch grew to more than 250 in the next 12 years, picking up a majority investment from Advent International in 2017. Today, there are 415 locations.

Much of the recent expansion consists of restaurants in progress before First Watch hit the COVID brakes. So 20–30 should open in 2021 as the pipeline reignites, Tomasso says. If not for the crisis, it would have been closer to 50.

Yet still, First Watch didn’t close a single restaurant permanently due to the crisis. And even tempered at 20 units, Tomasso isn’t sure any sector competitors got that high in 2020.

On March 15, First Watch opened its first Greater Chicago location in Oak Brook. The restaurant marked the first of what the company believes will be three to four restaurants per year in the Windy City for the foreseeable future.

Notably, it’s a second-generation build, just like another recent opening in Winter Park, Florida. This is something Tomasso believes will emerge as a common theme. While nothing new to growth-minded concepts, what has changed in the wake of COVID are the specifics. Namely, these conversion spots popping up are standalone restaurants. Outparcels that were concepts and chains retracted during the pandemic.

“We’ve been opportunistic in those areas to find those sites that make sense for us,” Tomasso says.

Some of the locations are bigger than what First Watch is used to. The Oak Brook store, for instance, stands 4,200 square feet.

This isn’t a negative exactly, despite the broader industry rush toward smaller boxes. First Watch is converting the extra space toward some pandemic-triggered enhancements, things like dedicated to-go areas or second make-lines in the back. Larger patios.

One of the reasons First Watch originally exploded was its agility. You see the brand in strip centers, casual-dining conversions, and everything in between. Tomasso says the only requirement is kitchens stay the same in every unit. But otherwise, there are walk-in coolers outside, completely different configurations for dining rooms. Patios on the front, side, and wrapped around. And so forth.

Some new tools for First Watch today include a separate to-go entrance or vestibule for pickup, where guests don’t have to flow into the dining room and stuff the lobby. To capitalize on the outdoor-dining boom, which Tomasso expects to endure, the recent Orlando-area unit boasts an indoor-outdoor 360-degree bar environment where customers can sit and grab drinks (more on this later).

Recessed patios has been one of First Watch's biggest pushes this past year.

There’s a double cook line, with the second line built specifically for off-premises and cocktails.

First Watch paid specific attention to patio upgrades in recent months, too. In a COVID landscape, they’ve taken on added importance, and not just because they build on capacity. Patios also attract passerby consumers who aren’t sure where to stop for a meal, what’s even open, or if they can (or should) go inside. Seeing an attractive patio takes care of that, Tomasso says. It’s leading to demand generation and trial.

First Watch invested in simple elements like greenery, heaters, and fans. But it also recessed patios, meaning they’re still under the roof of the restaurant. Now, there’s a hard roof that opens out. And, in some spots, First Watch deploys garage doors to extend the experience. The Orlando spot features accordion windows that open up and bring the “outside in and the inside out, and make it just an immersive experience for the customer,” Tomasso says.

First Watch's Oak Brook debut includes tall windows that provide bright natural light and an elevated dining experience that builds upon the company's "Urban Farm" prototype with the addition of warm blue tones, high open ceilings, an open kitchen, and a sunroom and patio.

From a high level, Tomasso says competition has been stiffer than expected among restaurants for sites, at least in terms of mid-2020 predictions. This is especially true in the suburbs, where First Watch predominantly resides.

This makes the flexibility element all the more critical, he says. There are a lot of different ways restaurants can reach guests currently, and footprints can reflect that.

As successful as First Watch’s off-premises growth was, however, dine-in remains the essential target. In November, the brand brought alcohol to restaurants for the first time since its founding in 1983. It arrived with a menu of signature brunch cocktails at 100 locations.

Some launch options included Cinnamon Toast Cereal Milk: Coconut rum, cold brew coffee, coconut milk, and agave nectar and the Million Dollar Bloody Mary: Gluten-free vodka, house made bloody Mary mix, and a strip of First Watch’s signature Million Dollar Bacon.

Alcohol was in the works well before COVID, Tomasso says. Pilots showed demand and incremental, additive business. But the pandemic timing worked in First Watch’s favor.

Customers making the break from quarantine life haven’t been hesitant about indulging, Tomasso says. And he expects that to carry through when pent-up demand and social occasions surge back into the picture. Typically, these things hold hands.

Today, about two-thirds of First Watch’s company-owned restaurants offer alcohol. “Obviously, highly profitable,” Tomasso says. “And also helps us appeal to a different demographic perhaps than we were before.”

The alcohol program, coupled with off-premises growth (and capacity increases, of course) have helped First Watch inch closer to 2019 sales levels. “We couldn’t be happier about that and we’re ready to continue to grow,” Tomasso says.

First Watch’s average per-person check is $14. It’s a concept that thrives on frequency as a “network of neighborhood restaurants, not a chain,” Tomasso says.

At the onset of COVID-19, First Watch spent lockdown days fast-tracking online ordering and delivery. It partnered with Olo to do so, linking up with DoorDash and Uber Eats at all locations as well. The company also developed a new mobile app to allow guests to place orders for takeout and delivery, and get in-line for a table when deciding to dine on-site. First Watch integrated technology with waitlist management solution Wisely to manage the wait for dine-in and curbside pickup, while simultaneously gathering guest data on consumer preferences.

The waitlist tool, first announced in June, is active on First Watch’s app, website, and Google. Data runs into Wisely’s CRM, giving First Watch the insights needed to trigger or automate personalized campaigns. Wisely deploys data collected from Olo to populate the CRM.

As a result, First Watch’s off-premises mix rose to 30 percent of sales by the fall—up from 6 percent in 2019.

“That’s a mix of those sales going up and the in-restaurant sales going down, as to why those percentages grew like that,” Tomasso says. “Be that as it may, the dollars that we’re doing in to-go is substantially more than we’ve ever done before.”

Tomasso credits this to the Easter call to suspend operations at corporate units for more than a month. “We geared that whole function up, and that muscle, and we stood that up and now we’ve gotten good at it,” he says. “What we’re anxious to see is when consumers feel more comfortable going back in dining rooms to eat and we get back to those pre-COVID levels there, how much of that off-premises will we retain?”

Elaborating on his earlier employee comment, Tomasso says First Watch is at the “staffing levels that we’ve been targeting,” although the overall picture remains murky considering unemployment benefits and other changes taking place nationwide.

First Watch committed out of the gate to continuing all furloughed workers’ existing healthcare benefits and to covering 100 percent of out-of-pocket costs, co-pays, and deductibles for any medical visits related to COVID.

It also invested in telemedicine for every employee and their family, at no cost, and provided relief payments to long-tenured furloughed hourly workers to help with immediate expenses.

For perspective, that latter benefit was previously offered to employees on First Watch’s insurance plan, or roughly 1,300 people. So, essentially within days, it added another 7,000 people.

Additionally, First Watch created an employee assistance fund, called the You First Fund (a play on the company’s mantra) that offered $1,000 to eligible workers.

One of the bigger efforts, though, was a company promise to managers to make them financially whole by providing a bonus upon their return to work to assist with hardship costs incurred as a result of the pandemic and work to close the gap between the federal and state benefits they received and their First Watch salary. Basically, when they returned, First Watch paid the difference in their salary versus what they received in UI benefits.

“The most important part of that is we kept people who were already invested in First Watch,” Tomasso says. “Already trained. Already knew our systems. And that has tremendous value. The fact we didn’t have turnover at that time, I know has a savings effect versus bringing in new people and training them.”

First Watch was also one of the early brands to offer PTO for vaccines (two hours in this case).

Looking forward, Tomasso falls into the camp of restaurateurs who believe a pent-up demand era is coming.

“I do believe that we’ll see a return and a resurgence,” he says. “I think it has been well publicized and well documented the challenges that our industry faced during this time. I think the consumer respects that, and wants to show their support. And not only that—I really think overall the consumer recognized how important socialization and dining out really is to them. And their lives. And I think they’re anxious to get back to that and we’re obviously anxious to welcome them.”

Глобальная платформа для ваших кампаний

20 апреля 2020 года на официальном сайте ФГБУ НМИЦ онкологии им. Н. Н. Петрова Минздрава России была опубликована информация, что
Губернатор Санкт-Петербурга Беглов А. Д. хочет перепрофилировать НМИЦ онкологии им. Н. Н. Петрова в больницу для лечения пациентов с COVID-19

Центр Н. Н. Петрова один из последних открытых для приема и лечения пациентов всех видов и стадий онкологических заболеваний со всей России и стран СНГ. Ежемесячно в центре проходят лечение более 1200 человек, в том числе пожилые и дети.

Нас, пациентов, в мае 2020 года хотят выкинуть на улицу без продолжения лечения. В регионах соответсвующее высокотехнологичное лечение получить невозможно. А прерывание лечения по протоколам, утвержденным Минздравом РФ, угрожает жизни и здоровью.

В связи с этим мы просим вас поддержать петицию не перепрофилировать центр Н. Н. Петрова в больницу для лечения пациентов с коронавирусной инфекцией.

С госинспектора, защищавшего заповедник от браконьеров, сняли обвинения

Ветеран Зинаида Антоновна Корнеева получила награду от президента за вклад в благотворительность

Сбербанк адаптировал свой онлайн сервис для незрячих людей

Природный заказник "Воробьевы горы" спасен от коммерческой застройки

Merkel and Trump lead their countries into a new phase. Their paths here have been quite different.

Germany was a leader in the West in taking on the pandemic, and then a leader in the calibrated restarting of public life. On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel had a hopeful message for the nation: The experiment was working.

The country’s infection numbers, Ms. Merkel announced, were not just stable but lower than two weeks ago. Germany, the chancellor said, was now in a position to reopen most aspects of its economy and society.

“We can afford a little audacity,” Ms. Merkel said.

Germany’s successful strategy was good news for countries eager for a sign that life can continue with the virus. But it was also a stark reminder of the differences in other Western countries, including the United States, where some states have taken steps toward reopening even as infections rise, and where President Trump is clearly eager to move past the pandemic and on to the recovery — whatever the cost.

“Hopefully that won’t be the case,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday when asked if deaths would rise as a result of the reopening of the American economy he covets, before adding, “It could very well be the case.”

To many of Mr. Trump’s critics, the strategy that has won Ms. Merkel praise and Germany a reprieve — a combination of cautious, science-led political leadership and a regimen of widespread testing, tracing and social distancing — is precisely the one the United States should have followed.

Germany shut down early and has been systematically testing its way back to some semblance of normality. Face masks, already mandatory in shops and public transport, are fast becoming the new normal, and socializing in restaurants and bars — even those now allowed to reopen — will still take place under strict restrictions.

With those limitations in place, Ms. Merkel on Wednesday was able to announce the restoration of many freedoms shelved for the best part of two months. All shops will be allowed to reopen. Restaurants and hotels can resume in time for two long holiday weekends at the end of May.

“We can say today that the first phase of the pandemic is behind us,” Ms. Merkel said.

Mr. Trump had tried to signal the same kind of optimism this week, announcing the winding down of the White House coronavirus task force on Tuesday before promptly reversing course on Wednesday morning after public outcry and private lobbying changed his mind.

Mr. Trump has staked his legacy on an economic record that was shredded by the crisis, and moving on from the pandemic’s forced closures and economic pain may seem like the best way to stabilize his chances for re-election this fall.

“We have to get our country open again,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday. “People want to go back, and you’re going to have a problem if you don’t do it.”

El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. Announces Second Quarter 2020 Financial Results

COSTA MESA, Calif., July 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: LOCO) today announced financial results for the 13‑week period ended June 24, 2020 and provided a business update on the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic.

Highlights for the second quarter ended June 24, 2020, compared to the second quarter ended June 26, 2019 were as follows:

Total revenue was $99.6 million compared to $113.7 million.

System-wide comparable restaurant sales decreased 9.7%, including an 8.5% decrease for company-operated restaurants, and a 10.6% decrease for franchised restaurants.

Net income was $5.5 million, or .16 per diluted share, compared to net income of $14.1 million, or .37 per diluted share in the prior year period. During the second quarter of 2020, the Company recognized a $2.5 million expense related to an agreement in principle to resolve the longstanding lawsuit involving a contract dispute with one of the Company’s franchisees concerning asserted territory rights. During the second quarter of 2019 the Company received insurance proceeds of $10.0 million related to the settlement of a previously disclosed securities class action lawsuit and recorded a loss on sale of restaurants of .9 million.

Pro forma net income (1) was $6.9 million, or .20 per diluted share, compared to $8.7 million, or .23 per diluted share.

Adjusted EBITDA (1) was $15.3 million, compared to $17.9 million.

(1) Pro forma net income and adjusted EBITDA are not presented in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America ("GAAP") and are defined below under "Key Financial Definitions." A reconciliation of GAAP net income to pro forma net income and adjusted EBITDA is included in the accompanying financial data. See also “Non-GAAP Financial Measures.”

Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer of El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc., stated, “Despite the quarter’s challenging start with the onset of COVID-19, we made tremendous progress transforming our business and optimizing our off-premise capabilities, which is reflected by the consistent improvement in our sales during the second quarter, including positive comps in June. I’d add that positive sales have continued into the third quarter with comparable restaurant system sales having increased 2.8% to date. Our teams have also done a fantastic job delivering operational efficiency throughout the pandemic, as we have actively made adjustments to our labor deployment, managed our food costs with greater precision, and are more efficiently servicing our customers both on and off-premise. These efficiencies helped us achieve a 19.6% restaurant contribution margin for the quarter.”

Acoca concluded, “I’m proud that our actions have supported our communities during these trying times while also delivering solid financial results. It is a testament to the resilience and dedication of our restaurant teams, who are on the front lines every day executing our business during these trying times and I am convinced that our actions over the last few months will serve our business well over the longer term.”

COVID‑19 Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to disrupt the Company’s operations. Except for nine restaurants in Houston and one in Utah, all of the Company’s restaurants are operating on a take-away, mobile pick-up and delivery basis, as well as maintaining drive-thru operations where available, in order to protect its employees and customers from the spread of the COVID‑19 pandemic and to comply with the government mandates. Currently, 192 out of 196 company-operated El Pollo Loco restaurants are in operation, while 279 of 283 franchised El Pollo Loco restaurants are in operation.

Below is a summary of other actions we have taken to enhance financial and operating flexibility for the Company and for our franchisees, and to protect our employees and customers:

As a precautionary measure, the Company bolstered its existing cash position in the first quarter of 2020 by fully drawing down its $150 million 2018 Revolver, adding $34.5 million of cash to the balance sheet. At current sales levels, the Company expects to be cash flow positive.

The Company has temporarily suspended all share repurchase activity, significantly reduced capital spending, reevaluated essential support center general and administrative expenses, and fine-tuned its restaurant labor model based on indoor dining room restrictions, limited dining room capacity in restaurants located in geographies where indoor dining is permitted, dining room closures and fluctuating sales volumes.

For El Pollo Loco franchisees, the Company deferred 50% of April royalties until July 1, 2020, which will be repaid evenly over the remainder of fiscal 2020, and also deferred 100% of franchisee 2020 remodel and new build requirements until 2021. The Company has also established a support team to assist franchisees in accessing funds and benefits provided by the CARES Act legislation.

The Company continues to implement actions to help protect its employees from COVID‑19 while working in El Pollo Loco restaurants, including enhanced cleaning procedures in all restaurants, providing gloves and masks to all system restaurant employees, installing plexiglass shields at company restaurant cashier stations and initiating other social distancing measures. Additionally, the Company is providing extended sick leave benefits to employees impacted by COVID‑19.

The Company has shifted its marketing to highlight a new free delivery program Family Meals as a healthier and affordable option and a meaningful value platform.

Second Quarter 2020 Financial Results

Company-operated restaurant revenue in the second quarter of 2020 was $87.7 million, compared to $100.1 million in the second quarter of 2019. The decline in company-operated restaurant sales was primarily due to a decrease in company-operated restaurant revenue of $8.1 million due to an 8.5% decrease in company-operated comparable restaurant sales, which we believe was primarily related to the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Additionally, there was a $4.2 million decrease in revenue from the closure of two restaurants and the sale of 16 company-operated restaurants to franchisees during or subsequent to the second quarter of 2019, and a .7 million decrease due to temporary closures, primarily related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was partially offset by an increase in revenue generated from the three new restaurants opened during the same time period.

Franchise revenue in the second quarter of 2020 decreased 8.6% to $6.7 million, compared to $7.9 million in the second quarter of 2019. This decrease was primarily due to a franchise comparable restaurant sales decrease of 10.6%, which we believe was primarily due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, the closure of eight franchise locations during or subsequent to the second quarter of 2019 and a decrease in fees received from franchised restaurants related to their use of our point-of-sales system. This franchise revenue decrease was partially offset by the opening of two new franchised restaurants and revenue generated from 16 company-operated restaurants sold by the Company to franchisees during the same time period.

Income from continuing operations in the second quarter of 2020 was $7.5 million, compared to $20.6 million in the second quarter of 2019. Restaurant contribution was $17.2 million, or 19.6% of company-operated restaurant revenue, compared to $19.9 million, or 19.9% of company-operated restaurant revenue, in the second quarter of 2019. The decrease was largely due to the impact of wage increases in California, increased delivery fees and the decrease in revenue previously mentioned. The decrease was partially offset by higher prices and the sale of lower-performing company-owned restaurants to franchisees during 2019. Restaurant contribution is a non-GAAP measure defined below under "Key Financial Definitions." A reconciliation of GAAP income from operations to restaurant contribution is included in the accompanying financial data. See also “Non-GAAP Financial Measures.”

General and administrative expenses in the second quarter of 2020 were $10.5 million, compared to $9.3 million in the second quarter of 2019. The increase was due primarily to a $1.9 million increase in legal expenses, primarily related to a $2.5 million settlement accrual, described below, partially offset by a .7 million decrease in labor related costs related to a decrease in management bonus expense and a .1 million decrease in other general and administrative expenses.

During the second quarter of 2020, the Company recognized a $2.5 million expense related to an agreement in principle to resolve the longstanding lawsuit involving a contract dispute with one of the Company’s franchisees concerning asserted territory rights.

During the second quarter of 2019, the Company completed the sale of four company-operated restaurants within the San Francisco, CA area to an existing franchisee and seven company-operated restaurants in the Phoenix, AZ area to another existing franchisee. This resulted in a net loss on sale of restaurants of .9 million for the quarter, and a total net loss on sale of restaurants of $5.1 million, including the $4.2 million loss on held for sale assets recognized in the first quarter. Additionally, the Company received insurance proceeds of $10.0 million related to the settlement of a previously disclosed securities class action lawsuit.

Net income for the second quarter of 2020 was $5.5 million, or .16 per diluted share, compared to net income of $14.1 million, or .37 per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2019. Pro forma net income was $6.9 million, or .20 per diluted share, during the second quarter of 2020, compared to $8.7 million, or .23 per diluted share, during the second quarter of 2019. A reconciliation between GAAP net income and pro forma net income is included in the accompanying financial data. See also “Non-GAAP Financial Measures.”

2020 Outlook

As previously announced, due to the ongoing uncertainty around the duration and severity of the COVID‑19 pandemic, the Company has withdrawn its 2020 financial guidance for the period ending December 30, 2020.

Key Financial Definitions

Comparable restaurant sales reflect the change in year-over-year sales for the comparable company, franchised and total system restaurant base. The comparable restaurant base is defined to include those restaurants open for 15 months or longer and excludes restaurants that were closed during the applicable period. At June 24, 2020, there were 191 restaurants in our comparable company-operated restaurant base and 469 restaurants in our comparable system restaurant base.

Restaurant contribution and restaurant contribution margin are neither required by, nor presented in accordance with GAAP. Restaurant contribution is defined as company-operated restaurant revenue less company restaurant expenses, which are food and paper costs, labor and related expenses, and occupancy and other operating expenses. Restaurant contribution excludes certain costs, such as general and administrative expenses, depreciation and amortization, asset impairment and closed-store reserves, loss on sale of restaurants, recovery of securities lawsuits related legal expenses and other costs that are considered normal operating costs. Accordingly, restaurant contribution is not indicative of overall Company results and does not accrue directly to the benefit of shareholders because of the exclusion of certain corporate-level expenses. Restaurant contribution margin is defined as restaurant contribution as a percentage of net company-operated restaurant revenue. See also “Non-GAAP Financial Measures.”

EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA are neither required by, nor presented in accordance with, GAAP. EBITDA represents net income before interest expense, provision for income taxes, depreciation, and amortization, and adjusted EBITDA represents EBITDA before items that we do not consider representative of our ongoing operating performance, as identified in the GAAP reconciliation in the accompanying financial data. See also “Non-GAAP Financial Measures.”

Pro forma net income is neither required by, nor presented in accordance with, GAAP. Pro forma net income represents net income adjusted for (i) costs (or gains) related to loss (or gains) on disposal of assets or assets held for sale and asset impairment and closed store costs, (ii) amortization expense and other estimate adjustments (whether expense or income) incurred on the Tax Receivable Agreement (“TRA”) completed at the time of our IPO, (iii) legal costs associated with securities class action litigation, (iv) extraordinary legal settlement costs, (v) insurance proceeds received related to securities class action legal expenses, (vi) costs associated with the transition of our CEO and (vii) provision for income taxes at a normalized tax rate of 26.5% for the thirteen and twenty-six weeks ended June 24, 2020 and June 26, 2019, which reflects our estimated long-term effective tax rate, including both federal and state income taxes (excluding the impact of the income tax receivable agreement and valuation allowance) and applied after giving effect to the foregoing adjustments. See the GAAP reconciliation in the accompanying financial data and “Non-GAAP Financial Measures.”

Conference Call

The Company will host a conference call to discuss financial results for the second quarter of 2020 today at 4:30 PM Eastern Time. Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Larry Roberts, Chief Financial Officer, will host the call.

The conference call can be accessed live over the phone by dialing 877-407-3982 or for international callers by dialing 201-493-6780. A replay will be available after the call and can be accessed by dialing 844‑512‑2921 or for international callers by dialing 412‑317‑6671 the passcode is 13706915. The replay will be available until Thursday, August 13, 2020. The conference call will also be webcast live from the Company’s corporate website at under the “Events & Presentations” page. An archive of the webcast will be available at the same location on the corporate website shortly after the call has concluded.

About El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco (Nasdaq:LOCO) is the nation’s leading fire-grilled chicken restaurant chain renowned for its masterfully citrus-marinated, fire-grilled chicken and handcrafted entrees using fresh ingredients inspired by Mexican recipes. With more than 475 company-owned and franchised restaurants in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and Louisiana. El Pollo Loco is expanding its presence in key markets through a combination of company and existing and new franchisee development. Visit us on our website at

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical fact included in this press release are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements discuss our current expectations and projections relating to our financial condition, results of operations, plans, objectives, future performance and business, including in connection with the expected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can identify forward-looking statements because they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. These statements may include words such as “aim,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “outlook,” “potential,” “project,” “projection,” “plan,” “intend,” “seek,” “may,” “could,” “would,” “will,” “should,” “can,” “can have,” “likely,” the negatives thereof and other words and terms of similar meaning in connection with any discussion of the timing or nature of future operating or financial performance or other events. They appear in a number of places throughout this press release and include statements regarding our intentions, beliefs or current expectations concerning, among other things, our results of operations, financial condition, sales levels, liquidity, prospects, growth, strategies and the industry in which we operate. All forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those that we expected.

While we believe that our assumptions are reasonable, we caution that it is very difficult to predict the impact of known factors, and it is impossible for us to anticipate all factors that could affect our actual results. All forward-looking statements are expressly qualified in their entirety by these cautionary statements. You should evaluate all forward-looking statements made in this press release in the context of the risks and uncertainties that could cause outcomes to differ materially from our expectations. These factors include, but are not limited to: the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on our company, our employees, our customers, our partners, our industry and the economy as a whole our franchisees ability to maintain operations in their individual restaurants our ability to open new restaurants in existing and new markets and to expand our franchise system, including difficulty in finding sites and in negotiating acceptable leases our ability to compete successfully and the intense competition in the restaurant industry the adverse impact of economic conditions on our (i) operating results and financial condition, (ii) ability to comply with the terms and covenants of our debt agreements, and (iii) ability to pay or refinance our existing debt or to obtain additional financing vulnerability to changes in consumer preferences and economic conditions political and social factors, including regarding trade, immigration and customer preferences vulnerability to conditions in the greater Los Angeles area vulnerability to natural disasters given the geographic concentration and real estate intensive nature of our business increases in chicken and other input costs our ability to recognize and respond to and effectively manage the impact of social media and our ability to expand our digital business, deliver orders and catering delayed or canceled future restaurant openings restaurant closures, due to financial performance or otherwise and other risks set forth in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission from time to time, including under Item 1A, Risk Factors in our annual report on Form 10‑K for the year ended December 25, 2019, and under Item 1A, Risk Factors in our quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 25, 2020, which such filings are available online at, at or upon request from El Pollo Loco.

We caution you that the important factors referenced above may not contain all of the factors that are important to you. In addition, we cannot assure you that we will realize the results or developments we expect or anticipate or, even if substantially realized, that they will result in the consequences we anticipate or affect us or our operations in the ways that we expect. The forward-looking statements included in this press release are made only as of the date hereof. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law. If we do update one or more forward-looking statements, no inference should be made that we will make additional updates with respect to those or other forward-looking statements. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

Non-GAAP Financial Measures

To supplement our consolidated financial statements, which are prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP, we use non-GAAP financial measures which include supplemental measures of operating performance of our restaurants. Our calculations of supplemental measures and other non-GAAP financial measures indicated above may not be comparable to those reported by other companies. These measures have limitations as analytical tools, and are not intended to be considered in isolation or as substitutes for, or superior to, financial measures prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP. We use non-GAAP financial measures for financial and operational decision-making and as a means to evaluate period-to-period comparisons and to evaluate our restaurants’ financial performance against our competitors’ performance. We believe that they provide useful information about operating results, enhance understanding of past performance and future prospects, and allow for greater transparency with respect to key metrics used by management in its financial and operational decision making. These non-GAAP financial measures may also assist investors in evaluating our business and performance relative to industry peers and provide greater transparency with respect to the Company’s financial condition and results of operation.

Investor Contact:
Fitzhugh Taylor, ICR
[email protected]

Media Contact:
Hanna Gray, Edible
[email protected]

(in thousands, except share data)

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