Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Chuy's Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:CHUY)
Q1 2021 Earnings Call
May 6, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day everyone and welcome to the Chuy's Holdings, Inc. First Quarter 2021 Earnings Conference Call. Today's call is being recorded. At this time, all participants have been placed in a listen-only mode and we will take your questions following the presentation. On today's call we have Steve Hislop President and Chief Executive Officer; and Jon Howie Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Chuy's Holdings, Inc.

At this time, I'd like to turn the conference over to Mr. Howie. Please go ahead, sir.

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, operator, and good afternoon. By now, everyone should have access to our first quarter 2021 earnings release. If not, it can be found on our website at www.chuys.com in the Investors section.

Before we begin our review of formal remarks, I need to remind everyone that part of our discussions today will include forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of future performance and therefore you should not put undue reliance on them. These statements are also subject to numerous risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from what we expect. We refer all of you to our recent SEC filings for a more detailed discussion of the risks that could impact our future operating results and financial condition.

With that out of the way, I would like to turn the call over to Steve.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, John. Good afternoon everybody and thank you for joining us on our first quarter earnings call today. Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. 2021 is off to a solid start, reflecting continued momentum in our business. While we experienced severe winter weather affecting the Central and Southern U.S., that had a negative impact on our February period, our underlying sales trends were positive throughout the quarter, including March comparable sales of under 5% of 2019 levels. Also notable during the first quarter was our continued focus on cost management and operating efficiencies, that resulted in a 60% plus improvement in restaurant level profitability. As our restaurant level operating margin almost doubled compared to the year-ago period. In fact our quarter's results included record restaurant level operating profit, both on a dollar and margin basis.

Looking ahead, I am pleased to report that our positive trajectory has continued thus far into the second quarter, with a comparable sales in our April period down just 0.3% from 2019 levels and average weekly volumes are substantially up from March. Our results are a direct testament to the hard work and resilience of our team members, and I'm hopeful that this momentum will set us up well for the remainder of the year. Keep in mind, that most of our restaurant remains subject to social distancing and capacity restrictions, some of them are a result of our own caution and we are staying prepared in an environment that has proven to be unpredictable. However, we are already going to return to a more normal operating environment and while the COVID situation is improving, our team members are maintaining their focus on three key pillars, that have continued to resonate with our guests; safety, convenience and value. Let me briefly update you on these.

During the quarter, we continued testing our pay at the table solutions, as well as other payment methods, including QR code payment and pay by tech solutions. The feedback thus far has been very positive. Again, safety will continue to be the forefront of our operations, and we believe this investment will not only help us improve in-restaurant peace of mind, as more states are loosening up their dining room capacity restrictions, but it will also create efficiencies that will help our business longer term.

Our off-premise business continues to give our guests additional convenience to enjoying our food, and during the first quarter and into the second quarter to-date, we were able to maintain our off-premise mix at approximately 30% of our revenues. We believe this elevated level of off-premise mix is a testament to the strong demand for the unique appeal of our high-quality made from scratch food and drink.

As I have mentioned on our last call, due to the enhanced scope of convenience and how well our food travels, we believe we can maintain our mix in the mid 20s, even as our dining capacities returned to historical levels. In terms of value, while we continue to offer a streamlined menu, including convenient family meal and beverage kits, as dining restrictions start loosening up, we will continue adding back items to our menu.

Now, let me quickly update you on our development plan. With a target to open between four to six new restaurants in 2021, during the first quarter we opened one new restaurant in Pembroke Pines, Florida. This is followed by another new restaurant in Indianapolis, Indiana subsequent to the end of the first quarter, and I'm pleased to say that these two openings are performing very well thus far.

Looking ahead, we have one more restaurant currently slated in May, and the rest of the restaurants will be in the back half of the year. In terms of our long-term development plan, we are currently looking at the use of a smaller prototype based on the operational changes we've made during COVID, we believe this new prototype will provide the same unique dining experience, while still allowing us to better serve our off-premise guests. We will be able to start utilizing this prototype sometime in 2022.

With that, I'll now turn the call over to our CFO, Jon Howie, to discuss our first quarter results in greater detail.

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks Steve. Revenues for the first quarter ended March 28, 2021 decreased to $87.7 million compared to $94.5 million in the same quarter last year. This is primarily driven by traffic decline due to COVID-19, including the loss of 108 operating weeks due to various closures of restaurants during the latter part of March of 2020, partially offset by incremental revenue from an additional 12 operating weeks, provided by new restaurants opened during and subsequent to the first quarter of 2020. In total, we had approximately 1,202 operating weeks during the first quarter of 2021.

Comparable restaurant sales decreased 3.2% during the first quarter, and included an 8% decrease in average weekly customers, partially offset by 4.8% increase in average check. As you know, during March, we began to lap the impact of COVID-19 on last year sales. So to provide a clear picture of our current sales trends, we have begun providing comparable sales as compared to 2019. So the first quarter comparable restaurant sales declined 11.8% versus 2019, with underlying sales improving throughout the quarter after excluding the impact of winter weather in February.

As Steve noted, we've continued to see improvement during the second quarter with April comparable sales almost flat compared to 2019. Please refer to today's earnings release for our first quarter sales cadence by period. Our off-premise sales remained solid during the first quarter at approximately 32% of total revenue compared to approximately 18% in the same period last year and 33% in Q4 of last year.

Turning to expenses; cost of sales as a percentage of revenue decreased 270 basis points to 23.3%, primarily as a result of switching to a limited menu and eliminating our complimentary buffet styled chips and salsa nacho car, as well as an overall commodity deflation of approximately 3.3%. Based on current trends, we are currently expecting commodity inflation rate of about 2% to 4% for the remainder of fiscal 2021, due to increasing cost pressures. Labor costs, as a percentage of revenue decreased approximately 720 basis points to 28.3%, primarily due to better productivity in hourly labor and reduced store management personnel, as the company has transitioned to an off-premise heavy operating mile model, with reduced dine-in capacities, coupled with hourly rate deflation of approximately 2.9% during the quarter.

Looking ahead, we are keenly focused on retaining and rerecruiting our existing employees, who have been instrumental in helping us navigate the pandemic so successfully. As a result, we are implementing a manager retention program, which will include an investment in our managers over the next two quarters of approximately $1.6 million. We expect this program will help us stay ahead of the curve, of what has been a challenging issue for the industry.

Operating costs as a percentage of revenue remained flat at 13.4% compared to last year's quarter. Increases in delivery charges and to-go supplies as a result of the growth in the off-premise business was offset by lower credit card fees as well as utility and other restaurant operating costs, driven by reduced operating capacity. Marketing expense as a percentage of revenue remained relatively flat at 1.1%, as compared to the same period in 2020, as we resume our digital marketing efforts, we expect our marketing spend to be approximately 1.2% of revenues for the remainder of the year. Occupancy costs as a percentage of revenue decreased 20 basis points to 8.3%, primarily as a result of closures of nine restaurants during the latter part of March of 2020, partially offset by sales deleverage.

General and administrative expenses increased to $6.8 million in the first quarter from $5.7 million in the same period last year, primarily driven by performance based bonuses and equity compensation, partially offset by reduced travel, professional and legal fees and other expenses, as a result of cost saving measures in response to COVID-19. The company recorded an income tax benefit of $0.7 million in the first quarter of 2021, compared to a benefit of $5.5 million during the same period in fiscal 2020. The decrease in income tax benefit was driven by an increase in estimated annual net income, offset by a $1.3 million or $0.07 per diluted share discrete tax benefit recorded during the first quarter, related to stock-based compensation. In summary, net income for the first quarter of 2021 was $6.7 million or $0.33 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $12.4 million or $0.75 per diluted share in the same period last year.

During the first quarter of 2021, we incurred $2.3 million in impairment, closed restaurant and other costs. During the first quarter of 2020, we recorded impairment and closure costs due to COVID of $18.8 million and a $5 million in deferred tax adjustment in conjunction with the CARES Act. Taking that into account, adjusted net income for the first quarter of 2021 was $8.5 million or $0.42 per diluted share compared to $1.4 million or $0.09 per diluted share in the same period last year.

Moving to our liquidity and balance sheet; as of the end of the quarter, we had $97.3 million in cash and cash equivalents, no debt and $25 million of availability from a revolving credit facility. Before I turn it back to Steve, I'd like to quickly discuss our limited outlook for 2021. While I'm not in a position to provide you with our usual financial guidance, I would like to give you some directional metrics, that I would hope would be helpful. As Steve mentioned earlier, we will be opening four to six new restaurants in 2021. We expect net capital expenditures, net of tenant improvements allowances of $15 million to $25 million. We expect restaurant preopening expenses of $2 million to $3 million in 2021, and lastly, our effective quarterly tax rate is expected to be approximately 16% to 18% for the remainder of the fiscal 2021 year.

With that, I'd now turn the call back to Steve.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks John. With vaccinations becoming more widely available, sales momentum trending positively coming out of the first quarter, and improving operational efficiencies, we remain cautiously optimistic about the health of our business. Moreover with our strong balance sheet and ample liquidity, we believe we have the means to remain nimble in this post COVID world. Most importantly, we will continue to ensure that our guests can enjoy the high quality, made from scratch food and drink safely, wherever and whatever they choose.

With that, we're happy to answer any questions. Thank you.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] We'll go first to James Rutherford from Stephens, Inc. Your line is open.

James Rutherford -- Stephens, Inc. -- Analyst

All right. Good afternoon Steve and John. Hope you are both doing well. Congrats on the improving trends here.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, James.

James Rutherford -- Stephens, Inc. -- Analyst

Yeah. It's good to see. I wanted to start off on the April result. I think the positive read on that numbers, you've effectively returned to pre-pandemic sales levels, that I'm sure feels really good. On the other hand, the step-up in the comp and weekly sales levels between March and April, wasn't quite the same magnitude compared to some of your peers in the cash lending landscape. So I was just curious if you could give any color on that and whether staffing challenges weighed on your ability to meet the demand or maybe was there anything else at play there?

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. The key for us is, if you come into our restaurants, you noticed that where most of our restaurants are all tables, there are freestanding tables, we don't have many booths. And so, we're still in all our markets, dealing with the six foot distancing, where if you have just booze, you can have the dividers in between them. And so it's mostly on the capacity within our four walls, is what it really is.

James Rutherford -- Stephens, Inc. -- Analyst

Okay. Is there a way that you could share what your average capacity is today?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Well we are -- James, this is Jon. We're running at about 65% to 70% capacity right now kind of overall throughout the country I would say. And the rest of it, what you're seeing here, as we make up to 2019 levels, is really on our to-go, making up the difference.

James Rutherford -- Stephens, Inc. -- Analyst

Got it. Okay, that makes sense. Shifting over to the labor side, I was curious if you could share how many total hourly employees you have in your restaurant today, and how many you would need to hire to get back? Does that kind of service the full pre-pandemic dine-in traffic load? Just [speech overlap] that's going to be an initiative?

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yes, of course, but at the end of the day, until social distancing from a CDC perspective is eliminated, which it isn't, in any of our markets, I'd say for that type of capacity levels, we're probably in that 85% to 90% employee rate, as far as -- as far as hired up. As we get into no six foot distancing, we would have to begin into a little hiring. But again that's normal as we move forward through anything.

James Rutherford -- Stephens, Inc. -- Analyst

Yeah. Okay. And then I'd just squeeze one more in, if I could, and I'll turn it back to the queue. I noticed the comment on the manager retention program. I didn't quite understand entirely, whether that was a one-time bonus or kind of retention tool or an ongoing salary and wage increase? So any color Jon, that you could provide, would be great?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, I mean, right now we're looking at kind of a one-time bonus paid out over a couple of quarters.

James Rutherford -- Stephens, Inc. -- Analyst

All right.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

But as we look at that -- yeah, as we look at that, we see a lot of folks that are out there, relatively spending a lot of money new recruits and new managers in a recruiting basis, what we decided to do and we've always done this, is we constantly look at rerecruiting and retaining our employees, because of obviously the great job they've done over the last year and a half dealing with this pandemic.

James Rutherford -- Stephens, Inc. -- Analyst

Very helpful, thank you.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

And next we'll go to Drew North from Baird. Your line is open.

Drew North -- Baird -- Analyst

Thanks. I was wondering if you could provide a bit of context on what margins could look like in the second quarter, if current sales trends continue, maybe walking through some of the puts and takes on the margin line? I believe, Q2 is typically the highest margin quarter, just given seasonality, while you're coming off a very impressive margin performance again in Q1. So any sort of framework or context, you could provide there would be helpful?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. Drew, you know I would hate to say that it's going to be comparable to what we just did. I mean, that was be a monster quarter that we just put up. However, we are still -- until we get to full capacity, we are still, let's not say, tourniquet mode, but we are in tourniquet mode in that we're operating our restaurant in that, with the reduced menu, the reduced capacities and so on so forth. So I think when you're looking at the margins for Q2, you could still see a margins in the low 20s, but probably not as high as what we had this quarter.

Drew North -- Baird -- Analyst

Okay, that's helpful. And I wanted to just squeeze one in on the real estate market, or just in terms of unit development. I know you have plans to accelerate new openings in the next couple of years. I was wondering if you've just seen any upward pressure, as it relates to development costs or construction delays, due to labor shortages out there, and if that's impacting ROIC on new units? Anything that's developing in the kind of unit development outlook that is starting to present issues, I just thought I would get some color on? Thanks.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, sure. As we've stated before, I think we've said that we're looking at four to six this year as we've mentioned, and then six to eight in 2021 and back to that low double digit 10 stores, starting in '23. Yes, we're definitely seeing an increase, whether it be steel, lumber, wiring and so forth, and that's probably in the tune of 20%, I would say as we are currently sitting here looking at it. Obviously, we're looking at value engineering in any one of our buildings and you do see outside this year, specifically being built in 2022, a smaller building in that 5,500 square foot range, that will have roughly a little bit more convenient to go area and maybe a little bit of patio. But it's something that we're dealing with, and it doesn't seem to affect and it won't affect our plans for our growth rates.

Drew North -- Baird -- Analyst

Okay, that's helpful. I'll send it back to the queue.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

And next, we'll go to Andrew Strelzik from BMO. Your line is open.

Andrew Strelzik -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Good afternoon. I know what you're seeing kind of the limitations right from the social distancing across the entire system, but I was curious kind of under the hood, if you're seeing the same type of volume recovery in your more penetrated legacy markets, as you are on some of your newer markets, are you seeing kind of a gap emerge there? Any color would be helpful.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

It's been pretty consistent throughout the last three periods, as far as the improvement in all the markets have been pretty sequential. So no, it's not anything, one of our markets that we have some of the biggest jump is over in the North Carolina areas. But again it's pretty sequential throughout all the markets.

Andrew Strelzik -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. And then I know you reiterated kind of the mid 20s off-premise mix and a full dining recovery. But it's pretty impressive that you're seeing the mix stay as consistent as you are. I'm just curious, are you learning anything incrementally, as the diner is recovering and you're retaining all of your on-premise business? So are you learning anything incrementally about that customer, that usage occasion, anything that kind of informs your thinking incrementally from when we last spoke?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

I would say, what we are learning is, when the dining room comes back. Even though the mix is going down as a percentage, the dollar amount is staying [Indecipherable].

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

It's the same.

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Consistent. And so what I think we've learned is that we've got a lot of new customers that are treating us in a to-go fashion and continue to do that, while we have some of our good customers and long-term customers coming back in the dining room. So I think it really gives us a little more confidence in that percentage that we're talking about, even before the catering comes back that we can maintain that low 20s to mid 20s in the to-go.

Andrew Strelzik -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. And if I could just squeeze one more quick one in. I'm just kind of curious, more broadly, how you're thinking about the trajectory of margins here. Obviously the sales should continue to recover or you have commodities that are shifting maybe to -- it sounds like inflation. Labor, which may not be quite as favorable, and then eventually kind of some of the items coming back to the menu, etc. I mean is this kind of a steady progression back toward kind of what you've been targeting longer term from a restaurant-level margin perspective, or are there other puts and takes to kind of consider?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

No, I think just -- I think you pretty well just hit it on the head. I mean, as we bring back items, obviously we will have -- bringing back a little more cost in the back of the house. Cost of sales is starting to rise a little bit, as we were talking about, especially here in the second quarter, so that's why we are expecting 2% to 4% kind of in the last few quarters -- the last three quarters of the year. And also we're rolling over -- we're starting the rollover the menu change from last year. So we're not going to see -- so it's going to be the true in place, and we're not going to see the efficiencies we have on the menu. Obviously, we're going to start rolling over and we're going to start rolling over against all this change that we made in that to go on the labor, hourly labor. So we've enjoyed deflation in our hourly labor over the last couple of quarters. We don't expect that going forward, because we're going to be rolling over, especially in the second quarter, total to go labor for 1.5 months, before we started opening our dining rooms. So we'll start seeing some inflation in those numbers, and so that's kind of what we're looking, going to those long-term savings of what we've always said, 300, 350 basis points.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, off of 2019 numbers.

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah.

Andrew Strelzik -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Great, that's super helpful. Thank you very much.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Andrew.

Operator

And next we'll go to Chris O'Cull from Stifel. Your line is open.

Chris O'Cull -- Stifel -- Analyst

Hey, good afternoon guys.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Hey Chris.

Chris O'Cull -- Stifel -- Analyst

I just had a few more questions on the margin outlook. I'm curious, do you think when traffic -- that traffic needs to get back to the 2019 levels before you start to see labor costs as a percentage of sales to start to normalize?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I think so. Stripping out inflation, because I really think that we're going to start seeing some inflation here, especially in the second quarter. Like I said, we've enjoyed the deflation year-over-year, given the strength in our to-go, that's going to start rolling over here in the second, third and fourth quarter, as we roll over those numbers. So we're going to start seeing some inflation in those numbers.

Chris O'Cull -- Stifel -- Analyst

Well, that was my next question is, what do you expect normalized labor cost to look like? I mean in 2019, I think it was around 35% of sales. Is the 300 basis points -- how much of the 300 basis points of margin improvement is coming from that line?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

We've said it's 250 to 300. So I mean, we would expect labor percentage in that low 30% like, 32%, 33%, similar to what we were. I think we can get back to those levels that we were, when we first went public to be quite honest, and maintain those going forward.

Chris O'Cull -- Stifel -- Analyst

But that may not start until you guys start to see traffic levels get closer to where they were in 2019?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Well, until we get our dining rooms full. Once we get those the dining rooms full, and bring back what we would consider our new full menu, that's when you're going to start seeing those percentages going up. And so that's going to be the last -- probably last quarter of this year, going into first quarter of next year.

Chris O'Cull -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. And then how do you expect bringing items back to the menu to affect cost of sales in the second quarter?

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Not much in the second quarter, except for just inflation, Chris, because again until the six foot distancing is eliminated, you're not going to see me playing too much with the menu until that starts going away, because then as I open up my dining rooms and we get back to more normal run, is when you'll see me add some menu items and some labor.

Chris O'Cull -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thanks guys. Congrats on a great quarter.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Chris. Thank you, buddy.

Operator

And next we'll go to Nick Setyan from Wedbush Securities. Your line is open.

Nick Setyan -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

Hey thanks and congrats again on the great numbers. Just want to concentrate a little bit more on the growth that hopefully we'll see. Can you just remind us what the new unit target AUVs and margins are going forward?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Sure. Well I mean, we're looking at this small prototype and what we're trying to look for in that, is minimum revenues of about $3.5 million in that new that new box and we're looking at margins still in that, with that $3.5 million, in that 17% range, which should get us on the investment of $2.8 million to $3.1 million close to that 30% margin.

Nick Setyan -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

And I guess if we think about kind of more of a balanced annual unit portfolio, where you are going to have some stores maybe in Texas, etc. I mean $3.5 million is probably on the very low end, right? I mean, on balance, we should probably see $4 million plus per class?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

I mean we are looking at, and why I say the $3.5 million? I mean, we're using the E-side [phonetic]. Again we. I think we said this last time, we're looking at five states -- five to seven states that we've done very, very well in, from an AUV standpoint, and what we're looking for are different locations that will at least do $3.5 million and not cannibalize existing sites, more than 5%. So that's our criteria. Yes, we would expect those sites to do more in the end, but that's our minimum target from a revenue standpoint.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

We'll hit our hurdle of the 17% and the 30% cash-on-cash return if we did that. But obviously we expect to do more.

Nick Setyan -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

And in terms of the 10 new units, I mean is there -- I mean, I guess especially one of them is really, really new. But any color on the average weekly sales thus far?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, we're very happy with them, especially opening them in a COVID market like we have been. But we are pleased and then, both exceeded our initial expectations.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah.

Nick Setyan -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

Great. And then just on G&A, Jon, any early thoughts on what Q2 might look like and what the year might look like?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. I'll tell you, G&A was a little high this quarter, because we had quite a few option exercises, as well as the vestings of stock, that caused a lot of employee taxes to be paid. And so taking that, is really heavy in the first quarter, that doesn't exist in the second, third or fourth quarter as well, the performance bonus that was booked. So I would expect in the latter quarters, second, third and fourth, that will be reduced by $500,000 to $600,000 as we go through the second, third, and fourth quarter, as compared to Q1.

Nick Setyan -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

Third quarter, right?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

What's that?

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Talking about the third quarter?

Nick Setyan -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

Third quarter yeah, OK. Great. Thank you very much.

Operator

And next we'll go to Andy Barish from Jefferies. Your line is open.

Andy Barish -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Hey guys, just wondering on the pipeline building for '22, are you seeing some benefits out there from closed stores, things that you can, you can convert as you've done in the past and how many of those do you think next year will be, the 5,500 square foot prototypes?

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Any of our prototypes that will do, will be definitely be the 5,500. Obviously, like we've always done in the past, Andy, we love hermit crabbing, we love remodels and we'll look at that space, as long as it's in the right area. But we will look at that. As far as our market points you know, where our markets are, we haven't seen a whole bunch of closings. We are not in California. We're not in New York and all that type of stuff. So we haven't seen a whole bunch of closings. If and when they do come, which I think are going to be more in the second half of the year, we'll definitely look at those opportunities, especially for some remodels. But you will see any prototype that we do in 2022 will be the 5,500, and then we obviously will continue to look at opportunities in the remodel markets.

Andy Barish -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Got you. And then, Jon, on the expense line -- on the operating side of things, I mean it's -- as dining rooms start to normalize, do you expect that to pick up with things like utilities coming back and some of those smaller expenses that may have gone away last year, when you guys hunkered down?

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, I mean it should come back, but with the sales, we should get a little leverage on that line item. So when you're looking back at 2019 numbers, as we get some leverage on that line item, with the exception of delivery, that's probably going to be 40 or 50 basis points higher, because of the mix of that, of delivery fees and also to-go supplies. But other than that, I think the leverage to bring them back, closer to your 2019, as we approach the 2019 level.

Andy Barish -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Great. Thank you very much.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Andy.

Operator

[Operator Instructions]. Next we'll go to Todd Brooks from CL King and Associates. Your line is open.

Todd Brooks -- CL King -- Analyst

Hey, good afternoon guys. Hope you're well?

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

You too.

Todd Brooks -- CL King -- Analyst

Few tag-ins -- thank you. Few tag-ins left. So Steve, you talked about, once you can normalize capacity in the restaurant adding items back to the menu, will the menu go fully back to what it was? Will there still be a streamlined nature to it, or is there any efficiencies or may be swaps for different types of items, where you would expect some cost benefit, even as you start to restore items?

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I mean, it will not go back to the size of the menu that we had pre-COVID, for simple fact that we kept all of our big sellers and will add on a few items, probably a handful to turn over the next bit, as we release from the six-foot distancing. But no -- but we've already planned on some efficiencies and we're going to carry those through, obviously the rest of this year, and then as we move into a full menu from '22 on.

Todd Brooks -- CL King -- Analyst

That's great. And then at the restaurant level, what are you seeing as far as alcohol mix? Is it kind of normalizing back to fiscal '19 levels, or are people although more exuberant, and it's actually over indexing? What's your experience in the restaurant?

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

We're right in there around that 16.5% number. If you go back to '19, we were closer to 18, and the big thing for us, especially in the six-foot distancing. That's where we kind of have waiting areas, a lot in the bar area, and so obviously that's not where we -- the six foot distance is where it's probably now, not everybody is going in there and just waiting around. Obviously it's not allowed. So that's definitely affected us. Once we get rid of the six-foot distancing, we think where we can move up very quickly to that 18 and continue on from there. But we are pretty pleased, honestly in a time and place that 16.5% is probably a pretty strong number, definitely in the casual dining environment.

Todd Brooks -- CL King -- Analyst

Okay, great. And final one from me, Jon, you talked about off-premise, may be settling out in the mid 20s. Does that include thoughts on catering, and where are we recovery wise, relative to when you think Chuy's can start pushing on the catering opportunity again? Thank you.

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Well oddly, yeah. Oddly enough, yes, that would include the catering getting back to the mid 20s. But we're starting to see it come back in catering to be quite honest. We're booking some weddings and some things like that. It's not coming back as strong yet, but it's definitely coming back and we're not opening new markets like we were scheduling, going into 2020, scheduling to do. So as soon as we get out of the six-foot distancing, we will start scheduling opening those markets and expanding that like we were going to in '20.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Our hope is that, we see hopefully some softening of it, specifically getting into the fourth quarter as we get into the holiday period.

Todd Brooks -- CL King -- Analyst

That's helpful, thank you both.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

And next, we have a follow-up question from James Rutherford from Stephens. Your line is open again.

James Rutherford -- Stephens, Inc. -- Analyst

Oh thanks. I just wanted to get back on the margin piece for a minute. It's extraordinary kind of leverage you're seeing with the new operating model and even with commodity inflation, labor costs returning, I'm curious, Steve, do you see an opportunity to build additional value into the Chuy's experience, whether it's portion size, price, or something else, is there something like Nacho Car or something like that? As the six foot distancing goes away, just to kind of extend your lead on the value front? Thank you.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I think our value equation is the best in the business is currently right now. But one thing that we will be looking at is, you will probably not see us come back out with the Nacho Car again, because of the buffet style on that, from a health department point of view. You will see us looking at some value play, specifically for happy hour on the food side, as we get rid of the six foot distancing.

Operator

All right. With no further questions, I'd like to turn it back to Steve Hislop for any closing remarks.

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Well, thank you so much. Thanks Suzie so much. Jon and I appreciate your continued interest in Chuy's, and we will always be available to answer any and all questions. Again thank you stay healthy, and have a good evening.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks].

Duration: 37 minutes

Call participants:

Jon Howie -- Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Steve Hislop -- President & Chief Executive Officer

James Rutherford -- Stephens, Inc. -- Analyst

Drew North -- Baird -- Analyst

Andrew Strelzik -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Chris O'Cull -- Stifel -- Analyst

Nick Setyan -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

Andy Barish -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Todd Brooks -- CL King -- Analyst

More CHUY analysis

All earnings call transcripts

AlphaStreet Logo

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.