Joe’s Crab Shack and its sibling restaurant chain, Brick House Tavern, will soon have a new owner pending approval by the bankruptcy court. Yet it’s celebrating in a surprising way: The chain is abruptly closing locations scattered across the country, sending employees home during their shifts.
A brief history of Joe’s and Brick House ownership
The winner of the bankruptcy auction and likely new owner will be Landry’s, a hospitality company that owns restaurant chains like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Morton’s The Steakhouse, and Rainforest Café.
Back in 2006, Landry’s sold Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern to a private equity firm for $192 million. That company took the chains public as Ignite Restaurant Group. Now the company will come full circle, and Landry’s will pay $57 million for the two chains. The Houston Chronicle reports that Landry’s had been trying to acquire the company before the bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, at the restaurants
Employees in Hampton, VA, say that they showed up to work on Tuesday, and found that the restaurant’s doors were chained shut. They weren’t warned in advance about a possible closure.
One employee told a reporter that he immediately began to look for other jobs after hearing the news.
“To hear that we shut down, no warning, no nothing…[I] pulled out my computer and immediately started applying,” he told WVEC-TV.
Employees in Omaha, NE, told KMTV-TV that they were also sent home abruptly on Tuesday and told that the restaurant had closed.
A restaurant in Amherst, NY, also closed recently, according to the Buffalo News, but we don’t know what day it closed.
The location at the Monmouth Mall in New Jersey (warning: auto-play video at that link) closed abruptly at the end of July.
No Brick House Tavern closings have been reported. (If you see anything in local news or in your travels this weekend about Brick House or Joe’s closures, let us know!)
The abrupt closings may be connected to lease terminations, since landlords have the right to terminate each location’s lease as part of bankruptcy proceedings. The Monmouth Mall location’s lease was terminated in May and will end in September.
Consumerist contacted a media representative for Ignite Restaurant Group, since the new owner hasn’t officially been decided yet, pending approval by the court at a hearing on Aug. 17. We haven’t heard anything back, but wesde will update this post when we do.