Archive for Thursday, March 5, 2009

Legends holds stromg despite restaurant closings

March 5, 2009

Two restaurants recently closed at The Legends at Village West and even though officials say the economy might have played a factor in these closings, Legends general manager Chuck Oglesby says the entertainment and shopping district is still holding its own.

“The industry as a whole is seeing a negative impact based on the economy, there’s no question about that,” Oglesby said. “We’re actually seeing a positive impact out here. We ended the year (2008) up 6 percent. That’s very good. The industry as a whole is down 3 to 5 percent, so for us that’s an 11 percent swing.”

Both Chili’s Bar and Grill and Saddle Ranch Chop House closed in February — Saddle Ranch in the early part of the month and Chili’s on Feb. 23. Stacey Sullivan, spokesperson for Brinker International, said the Chili’s closing is nothing out of the ordinary and is, in fact, one out of several closings that occur on a yearly basis.

“Every year during the second quarter, we look at how restaurants are performing and then have to make the difficult decision to close based on a number of factors,” Sullivan said of Brinker, which owns Chili’s, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina and Maggiono’s Little Italy. “Obviously economic climate factors into that, but it’s not the main driving factor why we do this. We do this every year.”

Factors the company looks at when evaluating each of its restaurants every year include sales figures, as well as the local market, lease agreements and real estate costs. Sullivan said the Chili’s closing at Legends is one of 35 closings that have occurred nationwide during this fiscal year. She said this number isn’t too far off from how previous years have gone.

“Thirty-five is consistent in numbers (of closings) we’ve announced in the past,” Sullivan said.

Brinker is expected to place all employees who worked at the Legends Chili’s in other Brinker-owned restaurants throughout the area.

Oglesby said the Saddle Ranch closing was based on problems with the leasing agreement between the restaurant and Legends.

“The closing of Saddle Ranch was really based on a failure to meet their lease obligations,” Oglesby said. “They wanted to change their rent terms and we couldn’t come to an agreement.”

By making the choice to close, Oglesby said Saddle Ranch was in default of its lease with Legends.

“There are legal proceedings pending on that,” he said.

Despite the closings, Oglesby said he wasn’t worried for the future. He said The Legends, which is home to several factory and outlet clothing stores such as Clarks Bostonian Outlet and Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse, may actually be getting its 6 percent boost from the bad economy.

Shoppers still want to find name brands, he said, but are frequenting outlet malls such as The Legends to find them at a lower price if they can.

Though he wouldn’t comment on what they were, Oglesby even hinted at some expansions The Legends might soon be providing to its visitors.

“We have some great things on the horizon that we are hoping to announce in the near future,” Oglesby said.

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