Long-held concerns debated nationwide about irrevocable economic damage soon to impact service industries, which are dependent on foot traffic, hit home this week with the announcement the TGI Friday’s restaurant in West Mobile is closing for good.
The site is now up for sale or lease according to John Vallas and Kenny Nichols with Vallas Realty Inc., who are handling local inquiries on the property.
The New Orleans-based owner/operator of the franchise fronting Providence Hospital at 6945 Airport Blvd., near Bonefish Grill, decided to permanently close due to the financial onslaught incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The virus has effectively shuttered all sit-down business for restaurants worldwide, leaving a comparatively smaller trickle of revenue still available for those eateries geared toward offering take-out and/or delivery meal business.
“Since the TGIF and similar concepts don’t have a drive-thru, it’s put them at a disadvantage during these times,” Nichols said. “Coupled with the fact that there has been a huge push in social media to support local mom and pop restaurants, it’s very hard to complete in the current environment.”
TGI Friday’s was custom-built to franchise specifications back in 2000, and the casual dining eatery was nearly an instant hit with the weekday business crowd as well as the weekend family demographic upon opening.
Vallas Realty has listed the 7,000-square-foot building, sitting on 1.85 acres of land, for $1.8 million. An annual lease option of $140,000 is also on the table for interested parties. Future inquiries for the site, to date, has covered new restaurant concepts and medical office space.
“I suspect we may continue to see similar closures throughout the area — Logan’s has announced they may not reopen any of their locations either. TGIF is the first, real local example of the impact the virus is having on the restaurant industry,” Nichols said.
Backing Nichols’ claim, a recent news article on Restaurant Business Online, a website covering the casual dining sector, revealed that Logan’s employees, initially furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic, have now been terminated. There are two locations in the local area, one in Mobile and another in Spanish Fort.
Struggling prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, casual sit-down restaurants already faced industry challenges over the past few decades due to generational changes in consumer preferences and greater competition.
Logan’s corporate owner, Craftworks Holdings, said in a prior report that the shutdown of its 261 locations comes after a lender withdrew financing when the company filed bankruptcy in early March, meaning the coronavirus-induced layoff could become permanent.
“The debtors hope that they will be able to restart their operations at some point in the future, but there are many preconditions to a restart, including the obtaining of financing, the hiring of staff and the ability to create a coherent and profitable business plan,” Craftworks said in a filing. “The shutdown could persist for a prolonged period of time, if not permanently.”
Logan’s employed upwards of 18,000 people nationwide across all locations.
New concept to open in Daphne
In an update, Miami-based Out of the Box Ventures LLC, a subsidiary of Lionheart Capital, recently paid $1.5 million for a 1.4-acre outparcel of commercial property located adjacent to Lowe’s and sandwiched between a Firehouse Subs and CEFCO gas station on Highway 181 in Daphne.
The development firm is also currently working on buildouts for two new Popeyes franchises, one in Prichard and another in Bay Minette. For the Daphne site, it is working on a different concept. John Vallas with Vallas Realty Inc. handled the transaction.
USA’s MCEI announces 2020 Coastal Venture Competition winners
Undeterred by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of South Alabama and the Mitchell College of Business’s Melton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MCEI) successfully hosted its first “virtual” Coastal Venture Competition in April.
Thirteen college teams submitted videos during the weeks leading up to the event, resulting in five finalists that competed “Shark Tank” style on Zoom. It was livestreamed on MCEI’s Facebook page. Prizes totaling over $10,000 were awarded to competitors.
Judges for the program were selected from MCEI’s board of directors and included Jeff Marcus, COO and co-founder of Shipshape Urban Farms; Michelle Parvinrouh, executive director of Innovation PortAL; and Jeff Mackin, application sales manager with Oracle.
The $4,000 grand prize winner was Patricia West, who presented Tech Teachers, a consulting business that helps seniors learn about technologies and how to use them.
Abi McCormick took home $3,000 as first runner-up with Green Bean, a “green” coffee house that provides education on sustainability to the community.
Second runner-ups Bryant Baldwin and Rachel Chai won $2,000 by successfully presenting P-Barrier, a company that assists with reducing phosphorus runoff in streams and rivers.
Third runner-up, taking home $1,000, was Tearrany Jackson, who presented Sinclair Cosmetics, an organic eye shadow business.
Joshua Engle was fourth runner-up for his business, Memoir Life, an app-based repository of sensitive familial documents and photographs.
Bellator Real Estate adds Baldwin County realtors
Bellator Real Estate & Development recently announced adding six new realtors this year for locations throughout Baldwin County, one of the nation’s fastest-growing residential real estate markets. Offices adding staff include Eastern Shore, Fairhope Section Street, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
The new agents added were Stephanie Goodman (Fairhope Section Street), Leigh Gunter (Gulf Shores), Craig Jackson (Orange Beach), Forest Bernardi (Eastern Shore), Anderson Reed (Eastern Shore) and Chris Moore (Fairhope Section Street). Collectively, Bellator’s new group has decades of real estate experience and are expected to hit the ground running in regard to closing deals.
“At Bellator, we aim to champion both our agents and their clients,” Troy Wilson, president of Bellator Real Estate & Development, said. “These agents are raising the bar for our industry and we are grateful to have them.”
Bellator is a full-service real estate company specializing in developing, listing and marketing real estate in Baldwin and Mobile counties. The company closed $551,775,020 in commercial and residential sales in 2019, reportedly ranking the firm No. 1 along the Alabama Gulf Coast.
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