UPDATE 1-Brinker withdraws quarterly forecast as fresh restrictions hit sales

(Adds sales details, shares, background)

Dec 16 (Reuters) - Chili’s Grill & Bar operator Brinker International Inc said on Wednesday it was withdrawing its second-quarter outlook, citing the impact of the recent dining room restrictions introduced to quell a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Shares of the restaurant operator declined 2% in premarket trading.

The sector has been struggling since April this year when restaurants were forced to close dining rooms and operate only take-away and drive-thru operations amid nation-wide lockdowns as the number of coronavirus cases rose.

“While positive Chili’s traffic in October generated a strong start to the quarter, the recent rise in COVID-19 cases has resulted in dining room closures and capacity limitations,” Chief Executive Officer Wyman Roberts said.

Same-store sales at Chili’s restaurants declined 12.3% in the week ended Dec. 9, compared with a 3.9% decline in the week ended Nov. 4, while weekly comparable sales decline at Maggiano’s ranged from 39.4% to 63.9% over a six-week period ended Dec. 9.

About 77% of Chili’s and 69% of Maggiano’s restaurants were operating with dining rooms open, as of Dec. 9, following fresh government mandates, Brinker said. (Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)