An American restaurant chain blamed the pope’s visit for poor sales last month

Pope Francis and his fans.
Pope Francis and his fans.
Image: Reuters
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The pope can really draw a crowd—but that’s not necessarily good for business.

Cosi, an American fast-casual restaurant chain, blamed weak sales last month partly on the pope’s visit to the US.

Today (Oct. 7), the sandwich chain estimated a 4.5% drop in comparable restaurant sales at company-owned Cosi locations during the four-week period ending on Sept. 28, and a 1.7% decline at its franchises. 

Parts of New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., were blocked off for brief periods last month to accommodate Pope Francis’s travel plans. And the chain, which operates locations in those cities as well as others throughout the US, says that’s part of why it missed on sales targets during the month.

In a press release, the company said sales were hurt by business interruptions at 30% of the chain’s company-owned Cosi restaurants, as a direct result of the Pope’s visit. Cosi owns 78 of its sandwich locations, comprising 71% of all Cosi restaurants.

Cosi’s quarterly earnings were also impacted by the date Labor Day fell on this year, and by the closure of two franchise locations in California.

Cosi did not immediately respond to Quartz’s request for comment.