Chicago’s Largest Restaurant Group Could Lay Off More Than 1,000 Workers

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Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises has informed state officials that it may lay off as many as 1,045 workers from 25 of its restaurants in Chicago and its suburbs. The news was made public last week by Illinois officials via its monthly WARN reports, a state summary of potential mass layoffs. COVID-19 was marked as the reason for the layoffs at each restaurant.

Lettuce, the city’s largest hospitality company, indicated potential layoffs at a variety of restaurants, like Petterino’s in the Loop and the RPM Seafood restaurants in River North off the Chicago River. Those two venues are the hardest hit as LEYE told the state that it could layoff 80 workers at each site. Venues from Bub City in suburban Rosemont, where 66 workers could suffer permanent layoffs, to Aba on Fulton Market, where 29 layoffs are listed on the state’s WARN report for the month of October, which was filed on Friday, November 6.

A LEYE rep says the company hasn’t permanently laid anyone off yet. According to the filing, the layoffs would go into effect on December 16. Companies are required by the state to notify the state of mass layoffs, i.e. layoffs of 75 or more full-time workers. LEYE filed its report on October 13, two weeks before indoor dining was suspended in Chicago.

R.J. Melman, LEYE’s president provided a statement to Eater Chicago, writing that the company placed many workers on temporary furlough in March after Gov. J.B. Pritzker first halted on-premise dining due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. “Nearly all of the impacted team members have been on furlough since March,” Melman said in the statement, noting there’s a hope they can be rehired in 2021. Melman adds, “no one expected these furloughs to continue as long as they have and while we are very optimistic for the future, in the short term, we do not expect a dramatic change in restrictions placed on our industry.”

LEYE is not alone. Earlier this year, Boka Restaurant Group informed the state of 500 potential layoffs. Lettuce runs more than 120 restaurants across the country. The breakdown of the potential layoffs reads as follows:

  1. Wildfire River North: 29
  2. RPM Seafood, RPM Events, Pizza Portofino: 80
  3. Wildfire River North 47
  4. Ramen-San, Dance Studio, and Il Porcellino: 26
  5. Big Bowl River North: 44
  6. Big Bowl Schaumburg: 40
  7. Bub City River North: 38
  8. Beatrix River North: 35
  9. Hub 51: 34
  10. Summer House Santa Monica, Stella Barra Pizzeria: 31
  11. Joe’s Prime Steak, Seafood and Stone Crab: 64
  12. Shaw’s Crab House River North: 69
  13. RPM Steak: 25
  14. L. Wood’s Tap & Pine Lodge Lincolnwood: 37
  15. Beatrix Fulton Market: 40
  16. Saranello’s: 31
  17. Osteria Via Stato: 25
  18. Petterino’s and Do-Rite Donuts: 80
  19. RPM Italian: 36
  20. Bub City, Joe’s Live Rosemont: 66
  21. Shaw’s Crab House and Tokio Asian Fusion Schaumburg: 27
  22. Aba and the Dalcy: 29
  23. Wildfire Schaumburg: 44
  24. Wildfire Lincolnshire: 33
  25. Wildfire Oakbrook: 35

Read Melman’s full statement below:

“When government restrictions related to the pandemic began to severely impact our industry in March, Lettuce Entertain You announced that we would place many of our valued employees on temporary furlough. Our decisions are always guided by our core philosophy of taking care of our people and this was one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to make. No one expected these furloughs to continue as long as they have and while we are very optimistic for the future, in the short term, we do not expect a dramatic change in restrictions placed on our industry. Sadly, as a result, we will be laying off valuable team members across the country at the end of the year. Nearly all of the impacted team members have been on furlough since March. Our hope is to welcome back as many impacted employees as possible to the Lettuce team and we will be offering accelerated insurance coverage, enhanced vacation and employee discounts to eligible employees who return next year. We are grateful to all of our employees for all they have done and all that they do, especially in difficult times like these.”

834 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

5419 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60640

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