The Sweet Peppers Deli franchises in Chattanooga operated by father and son team Mitchell and Frank Bell are closing up shop this week, employees say.
About 50 workers will lose their jobs by Nov. 1, as the downtown Chattanooga and Hamilton Place stores shut down for good. Two employees reached by the Times Free Press said the news took them by surprise, and no reason was given for the closure. Both, including a manager, are still looking for a job.
Frank Bell did not respond to requests for comment.
The Bells bought a franchise from Mississippi-based Sweet Peppers Deli in 2009, building their Broad Street location at the restored former home of the International Towing Museum and site of an auto dealership before that. The Hamilton Place mall location, across from Bed, Bath & Beyond, opened in early 2012.
Mitchell Bell got his start in the textile business before switching to restaurant management. He brought Frank Bell into the business at the age of 23.
Sweet Peppers' corporate headquarters, which didn't return calls seeking comment, lists 17 locations on its website, including the two Chattanooga restaurants that are set to close this week.
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