Galveston-born billionaire Tilman Fertitta has temporarily laid off 40,000 employees across his Landry’s Inc. business empire, according to business wire service Bloomberg.
The furlough accounts for about 70 percent of the employees who work at Fertitta’s restaurants, hotels and casinos, according to the report.
Fertitta didn’t criticize efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, although such measures as social distancing and government restrictions have staggered the hospitality industry.
“I think what we are doing with the shutdown is good, but in a few weeks people will need to be around people,” Fertitta told Bloomberg. “Otherwise, you are going to go into an economic crisis that is going to take us years to dig ourselves out of.”
The furloughs could last “a few weeks,” according to the report.
Fertitta has sizable holdings in Galveston County, including the Brick House Tavern & Tap, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Fish Tales, Joe’s Crab Shack, the Saltgrass Steakhouse and the Rainforest Cafe. He also owns the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, the Kemah Boardwalk and the San Luis Resort. Keeping properties open during the crisis has cost Fertitta millions of dollars in cash a day, he said.
“We are doing basically no business,” Fertitta said. “I want to hire every employee back. This is very hard on a lot of working families, but we have to survive or there is no company.”