2016-08-17 / Front Page

Biddeford Ruby Tuesday shutters doors for good

Staff Writer

The Ruby Tuesday located in the Mailhot Plaza in Biddeford closed over the weekend. 
ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune The Ruby Tuesday located in the Mailhot Plaza in Biddeford closed over the weekend. ALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune BIDDEFORD — Cars continued pulling into the parking lot of the Biddeford Ruby Tuesday restaurant on Tuesday, their drivers shocked to learn the restaurant shuttered its doors over the weekend.

Potential patrons were greeted by a sign on the door of the American grill-themed restaurant, saying the location had closed and listing the number of the Westbrook store, now the nearest of the restaurant chain’s franchises.

The closure is one of apparently several in Maine over the weekend. The Ruby Tuesday restaurants at the Maine Mall in South Portland and the Bangor Mall also appear to have closed.

A web search of Ruby Tuesday locations in the state lists the Biddeford, South Portland and Bangor locations as “permanently closed,” and the company’s website now only lists available locations in Waterville, Augusta, Auburn, Topsham, Westbrook and Presque Isle.

Ruby Tuesday announced last week it will be closing 95 of its 742 locations across the nation by September, citing a lack of performance.

“The decision to close restaurants is a difficult but necessary step as we take aggressive actions to strengthen our organization,” J.J. Buettgen, president and chief executive officer of Ruby Tuesday, Inc. – the restaurant’s parent company – said in a statement Friday.

“Performance at each of these locations, despite the loyalty of valued guests and the efforts of our dedicated employees, was not meeting expectations,” Buettgen said.

The announcement came as Ruby Tuesday, Inc., also announced a disappointing fourth quarter and even more disappointing fiscal year, during which total revenue declined 3.1 percent, or $35.3 million, to $1.1 billion.

Total revenue declined 5.9 percent, or $17.5 million, to $279.3 million in the fourth quarter alone.

“Our fourth quarter was impacted by the softness in the casual dining industry and increased promotional activity by our peers,” Buettgen said.

It is not yet known what will happen to the employees of the Biddeford restaurant, the number of which was not immediately available through the Maine Department of Labor, although the company said Friday that full and parttime employees impacted by closures would be offered employment at nearby locations if possible.

A Ruby Tuesday employee who only identified herself as an operating manager was present at the Biddeford restaurant on Tuesday. She declined to give her name and said she could not discuss details regarding the date and nature of the location’s closure, only saying “This is a closure.”

She also declined to say what would happen to the store’s employees.

Dan Moody, manager of the Westbrook Ruby Tuesday location, to which Biddeford patrons are being redirected, said he also could not discuss any details about the company’s closures, including whether or not employees of the Biddeford site had been offered employment in Westbrook.

The company says its restaurant closures are part of a larger plan to, “streamline the organization, improve financial profitability, and create long-term value for shareholders through its Fresh Start initiative.”

That initiative will aim to improve the restaurant’s nationwide food and beverage options, dining environment and service, the company said.

Representatives from Ruby Tuesday did not return requests for comment on Tuesday.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

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