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Restaurants close dining rooms again as delta-driven infections spread
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Restaurants' plans to return diners to indoor tables are unraveling.
Chains such as McDonald's Corp. and Chick-fil-A Inc. are slowing their dining rooms' reopenings, given the Delta-driven surge in Covid-19 infections. Other restaurants are again losing customers, and trying to squeeze more diners into outdoor patios while weather still allows.
Laurie Torres, owner of Mallorca in downtown Cleveland, said sales at her Spanish-themed restaurant had risen earlier in the summer from pandemic lows but fell again last month as diners grew nervous. Mallorca brought back interior dividers and spaced out tables again to help customers feel comfortable inside, but Ms. Torres said she expects the fall to remain tough.
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"The sand is shifting again," said Ms. Torres, who is closing early on weekends and shutting entirely on Mondays because of uncertain demand and staffing struggles. "It's just so hard to predict."
Covid-19's resurgence is creating whiplash for restaurants, which have slogged through a year and a half of pandemic-related disruptions. Sales that had steadily grown earlier in the summer have fallen in the past five weeks, data from restaurant analytics firm Black Box Intelligence showed.