What happened

Shares of Restaurant Brands International (NYSE:QSR) jumped 23.2% higher in April, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

It represented a battle for the restaurant operator to overcome the steep plunge it suffered in March as a result of the coronavirus being declared a pandemic.

A Popeyes chicken sandwich.

Image source: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.

So what

Restaurants were among the first businesses ordered closed by the government to help contain the spread of COVID-19, but fast food chains in particular benefited from being allowed to stay open so long as it was for carryout or delivery orders.

A number of casual and family dining chains were hurt because they hadn't established a substantial off-premise business before the crisis struck, but even Restaurant Brands International felt the impact; total revenue fell 3% to $1.23 billion for the first quarter.

Investors seemed to be counting on the restaurant operator's Popeyes chain carrying it through on the strength of its popular chicken sandwich. This faith was well rewarded: Sales were up 26% for the period, building on the 42% gain in the prior quarter.

Now what

Rival Wendy's (NASDAQ:WEN) has begun removing burgers from its menu because meat shortages are looming due to processing plants closing, and that could be a new crisis that arises from this pandemic. Poultry could be next on the list, which would leave consumers wondering where to turn next.

Restaurant Brands International could be hit with a one-two punch next quarter.