“The downtown location has never really taken off like it was supposed to.”
The Applebee's restaurant in downtown Chattanooga is slated to shut down next week, the latest in a string of eateries which have closed their doors in the central city in recent months.
A shortage of parking at the site at the corner of Market and Fourth streets hurt business a little, but the closing has more to do with the number of Applebee's in the city, said Brad Copp, a manager at the downtown location. There will be three remaining in Chattanooga.
"The downtown location has never really taken off like it was supposed to," Copp said about the eatery that opened six years ago. "We were hurting each other. It's so close to so many locations."
He said the franchisee of the restaurant possibly could put a different concept at the building.
Jim Williamson, vice president of planning and development for the nonprofit downtown redevelopment group River City Co., said restaurants close for differing reasons, though central city patrons seem to like the homegrown eateries.
"We embrace our local restaurants, the uniqueness instead of the chains," he said.
While a lack of parking is often blamed for closures, Williamson said, there are lots of other successful eateries which have little, if any, spots.
"It's an excuse in my opinion," he said.
The Applebee's sits next door to the former Henpecked Chicken, a restaurant that was opened this spring by a Nashville group but closed in July.
"We had great employees and staff, but there wasn't enough business," said Craig Perry of Halo Restaurant Group.
Across the street, the World of Beer shut its doors permanently late last summer.
But, there have been some high-profile locally owned locations which have closed recently.
Porker's Bar-B-Que on Market Street near Warehouse Row was shuttered this summer after 28 years. Increased costs and flat-lining sales — because of competition from a plethora of new restaurants downtown compared to the days when Porker's was a pioneer there — prompted the closure, said owner Beau Tucker.
Also, the English Rose tearoom closed after 20 years at its 1401 Market St. location after its lease expired and plans fell through for a new owner to reopen in another site, said owner Sharon Gilley.
Closer to the riverfront, 212 Market ended a 25-year run this spring for family reasons.
Still, other restaurants are coming online.
At the 212 Market site, a potential buyer of the building is a group out of Florida and it intends to keep using the building as a restaurant, according to a seller.
The former Sugar's Ribs location on Broad Street is holding a new eatery called the Mayan Kitchen.
A Shula's 347 Grill is scheduled to open at Eighth and Pine streets across from a new Westin hotel developed by brothers Ken and Byron DeFoor.
In addition, a restaurant is slated for the ground floor of the Market City Center building on the 700 block of Market.
Copp said no one at the closing Applebee's is losing their jobs as the staff has found new posts at the other restaurants.
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