November 15, 2021
Real Estate

Darden Restaurants CEO says speculation is driving up real estate prices

A customer arrives at a Darden Restaurants Inc. Olive Garden location in San Antonio, Texas, U.S., on Thursday, June 14, 2018.

Callaghan O’Hare | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Despite the number of permanent restaurant closures from the pandemic, Darden Restaurants isn’t seeing many deals on real estate right now.

“There’s tremendous speculation in the real estate market driving prices,” CEO Gene Lee told analysts on Thursday during the company’s quarterly earnings call.

Lee did not elaborate on what the speculation means for Darden. However, restaurant chains that survived the downturn were expecting to snap up closed locations at a discount or receive more accommodations from landlords, like permission to build a drive-thru lane.

Industry tracker Black Box Intelligence estimates that 12% of full-service restaurants in the U.S. that were open before the pandemic have closed.

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