Bennigan’s Restaurants Closing

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?

UPDATE

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.

 


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9 Comments »

Comment by trade show booths
2008-07-29 16:55:03

hi Frank,
I’m sorry to hear that Bennigans will be closing. I’ve never had the chance to eat at one, and now probably never will. :(
When I think of Bennigans, I think of the awesome movie “Office Space”. Didn’t Jennifer Aniston’s character work at a Bennigans? If not, I think her workplace was modeled after a Bennigans… I just remember she had to wear a certain number of buttons as her “flair”. That was a great movie! If you didn’t see it, you should. If you ever worked in the corporate world, you’ll appreciate it immensely.
~ Steve (aka Mr Trade Show Booths)

 
2008-07-29 23:27:58

I have never been there, but I have heard of it, I also believe they were in a film I saw once, where a couple was dining in the scene. It’s always sad when these icon types of places close.

 
2008-07-31 23:12:41

This is too bad. Even though it is a chain, I feel badly that many people will lose one of their favorite restaurants. And what does that say about our economy that a chain restaurant cannot make it?

Comment by jfc
2008-08-01 14:00:46

Hi Luau,

So far as the economy goes, weaker companies, companies that already had significant problems, tend to go under when the economy slows. Metromedia Restaurant Group had been allowing their brand to deteriorate for many years. I’m really surprised it took them this long to collapse into bankruptcy.

 
 
2008-08-01 07:24:57

Bennigans was never one of my favourite restaurants, but I did enjoy those mozzarella sticks. Better beer than many chain restaurants, too, if I remember correctly.

 
2008-08-01 07:54:52

I used to eat at Bennigans all the time, and was completely addicted to those Monte Cristo sandwiches. Thanks for the link to your own recipe for Monte Cristo sandwiches… that’ll be on the schedule this weekend without doubt.

 
Comment by trade show booths
2008-08-01 15:34:05

hi Frank, For your readers that don’t know where to eat now that Bennigans is closing, they may want to consider eating at Jollibee Philippines. Of course, they’d have to get to the Philippines first, but I think RT has a suggestion on what airline to fly for anyone traveling to the Philippines… ~ Steve, a noble UV minion and purveyor of minion-made trade show booths :)

 
2008-08-02 09:06:10

It seems a number of the chains like Bennigans are in trouble Starbucks are closing around 1/2 of their Australian stores: though thats no great loss - they really don’t make good coffee. I dont think Bennigans ever made it down under though

 
Comment by Bunn Coffee Makers
2008-08-04 16:10:38

Hey now … let’s not go dissing Starbucks! I like their coffee.

But there’s no doubt that they needed to rethink their strategy a little if they want to avoid the fate of Bennigans. In our small town there are three of them, and that’s at least two more than the market really needs.

 
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