Pope Francis was barely back on his plane to Italy before restauranteurs like David Chang started grumbling that the historic visit had torpedoed business. Now that complaint’s being made by an entire 109-restaurant chain: Così, the Boston-based flatbread-sandwich spot with a heavy presence in New York, D.C., and Philly, is reporting a sales slump for the month of September, and executives have largely blamed the pontiff for keeping customers housebound. “Business interruptions resulting from the Pope’s visit on September 22-26, 2015, negatively impacted 30% of our Company-owned restaurants,” the earnings statement says.
The argument that road congestion for just a few days in three cities could noticeably dent one month’s sales figures might seem a little dubious (Così pegs the drop at 4.5 percent). CEO R.J. Dourney tells the Post that while the company, like others, thought the big event would be great for business, “it ended up being more of a challenge.”