Old Restaurant Chains Get Second Look by Quarantined America

(Bloomberg) -- Decades-old pizza and chicken-wing chains are seeing a revival thanks to confined U.S. consumers.

Exhausted parents and bored 20-somethings are turning to older restaurant chains like Papa John’s International Inc. and Wingstop Inc. for delivery and takeout in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that’s forced people to stay at home.

Brands that were flagging last year are now hiring as fast as they can.

Papa John’s on Monday said it’s adding 20,000 workers who can interview and potentially even start that same day. Pizza Hut is adding 30,000 positions. Domino’s Pizza Inc. is hiring, too.

Domino’s last week said it’s looking for 1,000 new workers across 100 stores in the Chicago area, which last weekend was ordered to shelter in place by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. The pizza chain’s franchisees are hiring drivers, store managers and customer service representatives. “At times like this, staffing is critical,” said Reece Arroyave, a Chicago-area Domino’s owner.

Domino’s Pizza has outperformed its peers in recent months, with the stock gaining 10% this year, while the Russell 3000 Restaurants Index has tumbled more than 30%. On Monday, Domino’s Pizza and Papa John’s both gained as much as 11% Monday. Wingstop, which recently began offering free delivery at its 1,200 U.S. locations, also rose with the shares climbing as much as 16%.

Old Restaurant Chains Get Second Look by Quarantined America

Closely held Little Caesars Enterprises Inc. is advertising free delivery through April 5. The Detroit-based chain bakes its pizzas in 500 degree ovens, and the food is only handled with sanitized tools after cooking. Little Caesars is also staffing up.

“We are happy to continue offering employment to those who wish to work,” Rick Muse, senior vice president of field operations, said in a statement. “We are hiring more workers to keep up with the demand, particularly for delivery.”

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