The coronavirus crisis has claimed its latest victim: Rent payments from extremely long menu purveyor The Cheesecake Factory.

The restaurant chain revealed in a letter to its landlords last week that the “unprecedented and rapidly evolving” pandemic situation has forced store closures and “severely decreased our cash flow and inflicted a tremendous financial blow to our business.” As a result, the company “will not make any of our rent payments for the month of April 2020,” the letter added.

The company operates 294 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada under The Cheesecake Factory banner.

The letter, which is signed by CEO and founder David Overton, asked landlords “for your patience, and frankly, your help.”

The Cheesecake Factory did not immediately respond to Inman’s request for comment, but food publication Eater obtained the letter. The letter also states that affiliated restaurants — which include brands such as North Italia and Flower Child — will also not be paying rent in April.

The announcement that the company won’t be able to pay rent comes as restaurants around the U.S. have been forced to close or convert to take-out operations thanks to social distancing rules. The goal behind the rules is to slow the spread of the virus, though they have also put many people working in the food industry out of work.

Earlier this week high-profile investor Tom Barrack warned of a crisis in commercial real estate as companies are unable to pay their rent. And that crisis has gone hand-in-hand with concerns that residential rentals are on the brink of disaster because millions of renters won’t be able to make their own payments.

Given the widespread economic anxiety, then, it is perhaps no surprise that a multitude of people Wednesday cheekily welcomed The Cheesecake Factory to the proletariat revolution.

Some people expressed surprise that the restaurant chain had apparently joined the ranks of Americans struggling with rent.

Others connected the dots between the chain and singer Britney Spears’ recent (apparent) calls to redistribute wealth.

Many other saw in The Cheesecake Factory’s actions an example for their own lives.

And still others noted that with The Cheesecake Factory on their side, the coming revolution would at least taste good.

While many people offered jokes about the situation, there was also a serious undercurrent, with some observers also noting that if a large corporation is struggling through the pandemic, ordinary Americans have little hope of faring any better.

According to its website, the company operates 294 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada under The Cheesecake Factory banner. The firm was founded as a bakery in 1972 and today is based in Calabasas, California.

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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