It appears that the once popular restaurant chain, Bennigans, is closing the doors on all of their company stores today, almost without warning. This has happened as the parent company, Metromedia Restaurant Group, works out a restructuring plan on their substantial debt. It is unclear at this point if the closings are temporary or permanent. I’m kind of sad to see them go but they failed to keep up with the times.
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Bennigans got started in 1976 and was one of the earliest theme based chains of casual dining restaurants here in the US. They were famous for their fried mozzarella sticks, Monte Cristo Sandwiches and other tasty, but often fatty, treats. Bennigans Irish themed restaurants had a great ambiance, at least in the early days.
Being early on the scene helped them at first but soon, due to demographic changes, their restaurants, once in upscale young yuppie areas, were located in run down areas. They also failed to attract younger customers and didn’t cater as well to the health conscious as many of their competitors. As the chain declined, so did the service quality and ambience. It’s too bad really.
Will Bennigans restaurant memorabilia be that collectible? I don’t know but I suspect that if you have a few trinkets from them to list on eBay in the next few weeks you might see some sales. You do have to keep in mind that many a couple in the late 70’s and early 80’s went out to eat on their first date at a Bennigans so you can’t discount the nostalgic appeal.
Do you have any Bennigans restaurant thoughts and memories you would like to share?
It looks like the company owned restaurants will be closed permanently since their bankruptcy filing calls for asset liquidation, not reorganization or debt restructuring. Franchise Bennigans restaurants will remain open for now but it’s unclear how the bankruptcy will affect their operations long term.