Note: This story was updated at 8:25 a.m. Oct. 1.
Ruby Tuesday in Oak Ridge has closed. The restaurant announced the closure in two signs posted on its front doors.
The signs invite diners to eat at other local Ruby Tuesday restaurants in Knoxville and Lenoir City.
The front doors of the Oak Ridge restaurant were locked Tuesday night, and a worker leaving the restaurant declined to comment. A Ruby Tuesday media representative wasn’t immediately available for comment Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
In early January, the company announced that it would close 30 restaurants during the next few months, although executives wouldn’t say which ones. The announcement came after a disappointing earnings report, Entrepreneur magazine reported.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the closure of the Oak Ridge store was related to that January announcement.
“It has been widely known that Ruby Tuesday has been struggling across the board,” said Parker Hardy, president and chief executive officer of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce. “There has been new leadership at the corporate level, often-changing menus, and re-branding efforts, so this is not just an Oak Ridge situation. But we should first be concerned about the men and women who are losing their jobs. That’s a tough blow, and I hope some other restaurant will take advantage of already trained staff.
“Looking ahead, I know that the Main Street Oak Ridge project will bring in new restaurants, but I’m also convinced it will lessen the likelihood of closures like this one. At the Chamber, we’ll be reaching out to restaurant prospects we are already talking to, brokers, and others. ”
Main Street Oak Ridge is the $80 million redevelopment that would replace the Oak Ridge mall with a mix of anchor stores, smaller retailers, large and small shops, restaurants and retailers, and out parcels. It could include office space, a hotel, and residential units. The project cleared a critical hurdle on Monday when city officials agreed to extend a property tax agreement for the 59-acre project, authorize $2 million in roadway and other infrastructure work, and offer a $500,000 grant if some federal funding is not approved.
Headquartered in Maryville, Ruby Tuesday was founded in 1972 by Sandy Beall. The first restaurant was near the University of Tennessee campus. Since then, the company has grown to 775 locations.
More information will be added as it becomes available.