Original Steakhouse shuts doors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
One of Salisbury’s more popular restaurants has closed unexpectedly and without notice.
The Original Steakhouse & Sports Theatre at Salisbury Mall closed at the end of business Sunday.
A notice posted Monday on a window at the business read: “The Original Steakhouse closed for renovations. Reopening soon.”
Three letters ó one to employees, one to customers and another to vendors ó were also posted at the business. The letter addressed to employees was the longest.
“To our Valued Employees,” it read. “We regret to inform you that due to current economic conditions, The Original Steakhouse is forced to immediately cease operations.”
The letter told employees that their checks could be picked up between 2 and 4 p.m. today or Friday. Checks not retrieved, the letter read, would be sent to the employee’s home address.
“Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our company,” the letter said. “We wish you and your families all the best in these difficult times.”
The letters to guests and vendors were similar, both blaming the closing on tough economic times. “We have enjoyed serving you and thank you for your patronage,” the letter to customers read.
A number of employees of the restaurant called the Post Monday to say that they’d had no warning that the business was about to close, and didn’t learn of such until they got calls instructing them on how to retrieve their checks.
A man who answered the phone at the The Original Steakhouse Monday said information about the closing would have to come from the company’s corporate office.
A man who answered the phone at Salisbury Mall’s offices declined comment.
In May, Celebrity Ventures of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., announced plans to convert The Original Steakhouse to Denny Hamlin’s Grille 11, affiliated with rising NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin.The company said extensive changes to the restaurant would be made through a licensing agreement between Celebrity Ventures and Hamlin, and the transition would take about 90 days.
Calls to Celebrity Ventures were not returned Monday.
Celebrity Ventures has done similar sports-themed restaurants with former National Football League stars Eddie George and Jerome Bettis. It has also worked with Major League Baseball player Jeff Conine and NBA stars Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O’Neal.
Staff writer Mark Wineka contributed to this story.