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Cheesecake Factory: April rent checks won't be in the mail

Millions of Americans file for unemployment

The Cheesecake Factory won't be paying next month's rent for its nearly 300 restaurants across the country due to losses from the coronavirus outbreak, which has prompted multiple states to order nonessential businesses to close and sent millions of Americans on to the unemployment rolls. The company is among the major restaurant chains that are looking for rent deferrals on properties where business has slowed dramatically or ground to a halt amid efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19

David Overton, the chain's founder and CEO, asked for "patience" and "help" in a letter last week to the company's landlords, according to a copy obtained by Eater and confirmed by Cheesecake Factory.

"There are many factors that are changing on a daily basis given governmental regulations and landlord decisions to close properties," Matthew Clark, the company's CFO, told CBS MoneyWatch in an emailed statement. 

"We have to take both into consideration in terms of understanding the nature of our rent obligations and with respect to managing our financial position," Clark continued. "We have very strong, longstanding relationships with our landlords.  We are certain that with their partnership, we will be able to work together to weather this storm in the appropriate manner." 

Similar words came from Wendy's, with the fast-food chain on Thursday saying it would postpone rent and ease royalty and marketing fee payments for its franchisees. "This is an unprecedented time, and we are focused on the actions where we can make a positive difference," Wendy's Chief Executive Officer Todd Penegor said in a statement.

The Ohio-based burger chain said it would extend payment terms for royalties and marketing funds by 45 days for the next three months and defer base rent payments on properties owned by Wendy's and leased to franchisees by 50% over the next three months.

McDonald's, which has closed seating areas and play areas at its nearly 14,000 U.S. restaurants is also mulling financial help for franchisees in the form of rent deferrals. "We are working with franchisees around the world in order to evaluate operational feasibility and support financial liquidity (e.g. rent deferrals) during this period of uncertainty," the fast-food chain said in a recent regulatory filing.

Subway is cutting the fees it charges operators of the chain's 23,500 locations after receiving requests for relief, the company confirmed in an email. 

The moves come as U.S. lawmakers ready to approve and send to President Donald Trump a $2 trillion relief package that includes a massive loan program for businesses hit by the pandemic blamed for killing more than 1,000 Americans.

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