Bowling Green’s Bob Evans restaurant has closed for good.
The Bob Evans location at 145 Three Springs Road was closed suddenly on Monday, Feb. 22, according to an employee.
"I worked all day Monday," recalled Teia Butler, who was a server at the restaurant. "People from corporate (headquarters) were there, and we were told that as of 3 o'clock today we're shutting down."
A sign was placed on the door that said: “Thank you for being our guest. This restaurant has closed permanently.”
It follows a trend in the restaurant industry amid the coronavirus pandemic during which many eateries had to reduce seating capacity or rely strictly on delivery and carryout. The result, according to the National Restaurant Association, was a rash of closures that resulted in about 17% of U.S. restaurants permanently closing in 2020.
Butler, who had worked at the Bowling Green Bob Evans for four years, said those pandemic restrictions had affected business.
"We were only able to operate at 50 percent of capacity, so I guess we weren't able to make enough to stay open," she said. "We were doing good on carryout orders, but it just wasn't enough to keep us afloat."
Other local eateries have suffered a similar fate. In recent months, Bowling Green restaurants Ryan’s Buffet and Logan’s Roadhouse closed their doors permanently.
Such closings have dealt a blow to employees like Butler, a single mother who described the closure announcement as "kinda a knock in the head."
"This was probably the favorite job I've ever had," said Butler, 30. "I had a good relationship with everybody, including our regular customers."
Another server who now finds herself out of work, Tammy Rogers, describes the closure as "heart-wrenching".
"I loved working there," said Rogers, who had worked at the restaurant for nearly five years. "We had so many regular customers. That's what's hurting me more than anything. We had no way of letting them know we were closing."
Bob Evans, which is known for its hearty breakfasts and such lunch and dinner menu items as honey butter chicken and country fried steak, had already been contracting before the pandemic.
The restaurant chain, founded in 1948 by its namesake and owned since 2017 by San Francisco-based Golden Gate Capital, operates 445 locations across 18 states and territories.
That number has been falling in recent years. The chain closed 21 restaurants, including one in Owensboro, during 2017.
The Bob Evans restaurant brand was part of Bob Evans Farms Inc. until the sale to Golden Gate Capital.
Bob Evans Farms, a leading producer and distributor of refrigerated potato, pasta and vegetable-based side dishes, pork sausage and a variety of refrigerated and frozen convenience food items, has since 2018 been owned by Post Holdings Inc.
Efforts to reach Bob Evans’ corporate headquarters in New Albany, Ohio, or Golden Gate Capital in San Francisco for further information were not successful.
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.