Billionaire Restaurant CEO Tells Fox News He Did His 45,000 Employees a ‘Favor’ by Furloughing Them So Quickly


The billionaire owner of the Landry’s restaurant empire told Fox News that his move to swiftly furlough almost all of his 45,000 employees was a “favor” that would help them get unemployment quicker.

Tilman Fertitta, whose portfolio includes ownership of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, as well as Las Vegas’ Golden Nugget casino and nation franchise chains like Joe’s Crab Shack , told Ingraham Angle guest host Brian Kilmeade that laying off workers as soon as possible was a lesson he learned after having survived several recessions. Fertitta’s latest net worth is estimated by Forbes to be $4.8 billion, making him the 44th richest person in the world.

“The pandemic has affected everyone,” Kilmeade said by way of introducing Fertitta. “All of you watching, all of your friends, all of your family, all of your neighbors. But I could argue that maybe no one has been affected as holistically as my next guest.”

“When the world shut down, Tillman, so did your businesses, from casinos to the restaurants to the Rockets, how are you holding up?” Kilmeade followed up, alluding to the nationwide shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m holding up, I’m holding up pretty damn good,” a black T-shirt-clad Fertitta said. “But I’ve got 45,000 employees out there that we’ve had to furlough that is so tremendously unfortunate, that we have to get back to work as soon as we can. These unemployment numbers of 16 million, and there’s no telling what it’s going to be next week. That’s what’s so sad about this whole crisis.”

“How hard was that decision to lay off your employees?” Kilmeade asked.

“You know, Brian, I went through the ’87 crisis, the 2000, the 2008 [recessions],” Fertitta noted. “And it’s kind of something you realize is, you are doing your people a favor if you get them furloughed first, because they they’re the first to the unemployment line after the severance that you give them, and it’s a trick that I learned many years ago.”

Numerous states’ unemployment systems have crashed because of the unprecedented scale of the layoffs, resulting in few, if any claims being paid so far.

“That’s why so many people are having a hard time now, but it just unimaginable, we’ve all had to do little layoffs over the years,” Fertitta added. “But you have to basically shut down the whole company, when you think about having music parks, aquariums, restaurants around the world, a basketball team, casinos all over, and nothing is open. It’s just — it’s like a sci-fi movie that you would never believe.”

“Give us an idea of how much cash is going out the window and what you need to sustain it,” Kilmeade said.

“This is what people don’t understand, is we all pay today, yesterday’s bills with today’s money,” Fertitta explained. And when we just got shut down in a 48 hour period, you still have a payroll and severance, $100 million for me because my payroll is $1.5 billion a year. Which is done now, but my cash burn today is still $2 million a day, which is unfathomable, but that’s why we’ve got to stay liquid. I went out and did some finances this week that will take me to the end of the year.”

“When they shut down the city of Houston, I thought it was premature,” Fertitta added. “But they were 100% right, and we’ve got to do this to the end of this month, and we’ve got to start opening up in May, not only on the financial side, but the mental health side is huge. I talked with so many people that say, ‘Hey, I just want to come back to work. I’ll do anything, but I’ve got to get out of my house.’ We are all struggling. We are all struggling.”

Watch the video above, via Fox News.

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