Owens closes eight restaurants in Texas
At 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, customers at the Waxahachie Owens Restaurant were told to leave the building and the doors were to be locked.
Bob Evans Farms, Inc. announced today that they were closing the remaining eight Owens Restaurants in Texas.
The company signed a definitive agreement to sell the restaurant properties and two additional properties for an undisclosed amount to a joint venture between Ft. Worth based Woodmont Company and Commercial Net Lease Realty, Inc., of Orlando, Fla.
The Owens Restaurants properties are located in Arlington, Austin, Dallas, Farmers Branch, Irving, Mesquite, North Richland Hills and Waxahachie.
Owens Country Sausage, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Bob Evans Farms will not be impacted by the sale. The company will continue to operate its food production plants in Sulphur Springs, Texas and Richardson.
"The announcement came in at 2 p.m. from our corporate offices," Waxahachie Owens Restaurant Manager Mike Karl said. "We were told to ask our customers to leave and lock the doors."
Karl, who started at the restaurant two weeks ago, said he was given no reason for the closing.
"They offered transfers and severance packages for employees," Karl said. "But we weren’t given any reason why we were closing."
The restaurant currently employees approximately 38 employees.
"We were told we would have a meeting on the new menu," Employee Amanda Smith said. "We were extremely shocked to hear we were closing. We worked our shift as normal and then were told at 2 p.m. we were closing."
Waxahachie Owens general manager Mark Maginnis said he received a call from the area director that an investment firm had purchased the restaurant.
"We’re offering transfers to any of our other locations," Maginnis said. "We’re helping displaced employees with severance packages as well."
Maginnis said current employees would be kept on until the restaurant is fully closed down by Saturday.
"We’ll just have to look for work elsewhere," Employee Kristin Tyner said. Tyner and co-worker Katie Davis have worked at the Waxahachie restaurant for three years. Both are students at Navarro College.
"I live and go to school in Waxahachie," Davis said. "I can’t commute to Ft. Worth to work at the sasusage plant or move out of state."
Davis said the final customers of the day were given their meals for free and employees were sending potential customers away the rest of the afternoon.
Larry Corbin, president and chief executive officer of Bob Evans Farms said in a press release that the decision to close the restaurants was difficult.
"It is always a difficult decision for us to close restaurants," Corbin said. "But financial results at these locations had not met our expectations for some time. We were not able to grow the concept based on our performance combined with the high cost of advertising in the Dallas Metroplex, so we were receptive when the opportunity to sell arose."
Corbin added that while other underperforming restaurants had been closed by the company earlier in the fiscal year, no additional closings were planned for FY 2006, which ends in April 2006.
Attempts to contact additional company representatives were unsuccessful.
The company announced last year that same-store sales at Bob Evans Restaurants had decreased for the month of December. Sales were down 2.2 percent from the same period a year ago, while average menu prices were up approximately 2.6 percent.
With the new deal, the company owns and operates 582 full-service restaurants in 19 states. The company also operates 96 Mimi’s Café casual restaurants in 13 states.
"This is great quality real estate for which we feel fortunate to have the opportunity to acquire," Woodmont Company senior vice-president Greg Rabin said. "Our plans are to redevelop and redeploy the assets."
Sales of the restaurants made little impact on Wall Street where the company’s stock value (BOBE) closed at only a dime, or .42 percent lower than Tuesday’s opening price of 23.94.