Darden Restaurants (DRI), the parent company of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, and Eddie V's has reopened 49% of its dining rooms with plans to reopen 65% of its restaurant locations by the end of May.

The restaurants, which closed their dining rooms in March because of the coronavirus, will have limited capacity at each location and a series of safety restrictions in place to protect customers and employees from the spread of the coronavirus.

Employees will be required to wear masks and must undergo a temperature check before starting work. Restaurants will be deep cleaned daily, and social distancing will be promoted through reconfigured table layouts. Hand sanitizer stations will also be placed in the lobby of the restaurants.

Darden is asking customers to wear masks when they are not at the table. It also suggests making a reservation, paying with mobile pay, and avoid congregating in the lobby of its restaurants.

Darden CEO Gene Lee, said in a statement, “As we continue to reopen our dining rooms, we remain dedicated to providing a safe environment for our team members and guests. Early signs show that our loyal guests are grateful for the opportunity to dine-in with us, and they appreciate the added safety measures we have implemented.

“At the same time, our To Go business remains strong. I am pleased that we are able to return some team members from furlough to support these phased openings, and we look forward to safely serving more guests as more communities begin to reopen,” he added.

Darden saw its Q4 sales declined 47.9%. The company repaid $750 million to its revolving credit facility on May 5 and said it has about $700 million cash on hand with access to $1.4 billion in liquidity.

Shares of Darden Restaurants stock were up 1.67% as of 11:47 a.m. EDT on Tuesday.

Olive Garden
For $100, Olive Garden customers can get unlimited pasta any day of the week for seven weeks. Photo: Getty