The doors are locked and the sign removed at the location of a former Fatz Cafe in a shopping center off West Market Street Wednesday. (Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
Two years after opening in a strip mall between Johnson City and Jonesborough, chain restaurant Fatz Cafe has closed its doors permanently.
Jim Balis, CEO of the restaurant’s parent company, Taylors, S.C.-based Cafe Enterprises Inc., confirmed the shuttering of the eatery and attributed it to disappointing sales at the location in the Shoppes at West Market center, adjacent to the Walmart store.
“It is closed,” Balis said Wednesday during a telephone interview. “It just wasn’t performing as well was we had hoped.”
The CEO said the restaurant’s employees were notified of the closure Monday morning when they reported to work. The news was communicated in other ways to those who worked the evening shift, Balis said.
All of the employees from the West Market location were offered the opportunity to relocate to other Fatz Cafe locations.
Balis said two of the three managers from the restaurant have accepted positions at other company-owned locations, but he wasn’t sure how many of the remaining staff members accepted the offer to relocate.
Fatz still operates restaurants in Elizabethton, Kingsport, Bristol, and Balis said they are meeting performance expectations and aren’t expected to close at this time.
Cafe Enterprises is working with the property’s owner to fill the 4,800-square-foot suite to satisfy the remainder of Fatz’s lease.
According to Balis, two restaurants have already expressed interest in moving into the shopping center location.
Although the west side location didn’t work out, Fatz is still interested in having a restaurant in Johnson City, Balis said.
“It’s a great market for us, but perhaps we weren’t in the right location there,” he said. “We’d like to thank the community for supporting us, and we hope for their continuing support at our other locations.”
Offering southern-inspired casual dining options, Fatz operates 47 restaurants in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee. The West Market Street location opened in June 2011.
Cafe Enterprises recently added two other brands, Tavern 24 and Tablefields, to its offerings, but Balis said the company did not have plans to expand either of those properties to the Tri-Cities market at this time.