Sometimes you just don’t know what you want for dinner. For that reason, we have buffets. But there will be a fewer options for some diners, as Ovation Brands, the operator of restaurants like Hometown Buffet, Ryan’s, Fire Mountain, and Old Country Buffet, announced the closure of 74 underperforming locations.
Update: the company closed the rest of its restaurants on March 6 and filed for bankruptcy the following day, but those closings may or may not be permanent.
Ovation Brands says the closings, which affect each of its buffet brands, constitutes about 20% of its buffet business, Nation’s Restaurant News reports.
The closures come just months after San Antonio-based Food Management Partners purchased Ovation Brands and its 328 locations.
“Since that time, we have continued to execute former management’s operating plan to stabilize and enhance the performance of the company,” Peter Donbavand, vice president of business development for the company, said in a statement. “However, based on ongoing assessments of individual restaurants, it is necessary to shutter locations for the continued viability of the brands and our employees.”
The closures, which took place across the country, occurred on Thursday.
Local news outlets reported that hundreds of residents were out of work after the abrupt closures. The company says that workers are eligible to apply for positions at remaining stores.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that seven locations of Old Country Buffet were closed in the area, leaving just three of the buffet restaurants in operation in the Twin Cities.
While it was unclear how many workers were affected by the closures, many now-former employees say they were caught off guard.
“The OCB in Fridley has abruptly closed today. Thanks so much for giving your employees notice!!” one employee wrote on the restaurant’s Facebook page, the Star Tribune reports.
In the San Diego area, 10News reports that six Hometown Buffet locations closed their doors on Thursday, simply posting signs to notify both patrons and employees that the restaurant wouldn’t open again.
Across the state in Sacramento the story was the same, CBS Local reports, where three Hometown Buffets closed.
WHNT 19 News reports that several Ryan’s locations in Alabama were affected by the closures. Again, staff was notified by a sign posted on the door, while U-Haul trucks were seen on location removing equipment.
Donbavand said in the statement Thursday that while the company can’t predict future market conditions, it plans to continue operating unaffected restaurants.
“We know that these decisions are not easy, however, we strongly believe that this direction is best for the long-term health of all brands,” he said.
National Restaurant News reports that this isn’t the first time Ovation Brands has downsized. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and again in 2012.
Ovation Brands’ new owner closes 74 underperforming locations [Nation’s Restaurant News]