Fertitta says closed restaurants should not have to pay full rent

Landry’s CEO Tilman Fertitta told CNBC on Tuesday that it is not “reasonable” for commercial landlords to ask for full rent payments from businesses that were forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Everybody has to be reasonable with everybody. I want to be a reasonable tenant, and I expect the landlord to be reasonable with me,” Fertitta said on CNBC’s “Power Lunch.” “But don’t expect me to pay you 100% rent when I’ve been closed by the county, the city, the state, the government and you — because your mall’s not open or your facility’s not open.”

The company has over 600 restaurants, and more than half of those are still closed. Fertitta said that, while there are some bright spots, the restaurants that have reopened are still seeing large drops in business compared with prior years. 

“I think this is a time that we all have to work together. Everybody needs to be reasonable, and, once again, everyone needs to feel some pain,” Fertitta said. 

Landry’s has now reopened 270 restaurants, as well as two casinos in Louisiana and Mississippi. Fertitta also owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets, whose season has been suspended as league and team leaders negotiate a potential restart. 

One area where Landry’s restaurants, including Del Frisco’s and Morton’s steak houses, remain closed for in-person dining is New York City. Fertitta said the city would need to open up soon to avoid causing a major issue for the commercial real estate industry. 

“If you don’t do something, we are going to cause a commercial real estate bust at some time. Because you can’t pay rent if we’re not doing business,” Fertitta said. 

The restaurant owner has also voiced concerns about how the government relief programs are impacting restaurants, asking the Trump administration to let bigger companies access the Paycheck Protection Program and criticizing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to add restrictions for government aid. 

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