Champps Americana restaurant and sports bar, an original tenant at the Promenade Shops at Briargate when it opened in 2003, closed on Tuesday after struggling financially, its owners say.
The restaurant, part of Wichita-based Champps Entertainment Inc., employed 65 part-time people and two full-time managers, all of whom lost their jobs, said company spokesman Rick Van Warner. The managers, and part-timers who had been there for at least a year, received separation pay, he said.
The full-service restaurant industry - highly competitive and with small profit margins - has faced tough times economically over the last several years, Van Warner said.
The Champps location at the Promenade Shops on the Springs' far north side had struggled "for some time," and a combination of factors led to the decision to close, he said. A high lease rate was "a significant factor" in the decision, he added.
"High occupancy costs and rising costs in other parts of the business, coupled with a soft economy and weaker-than-needed customer sales - guest sales - led to making this tough decision," Van Warner said.
Another Champps restaurant closed recently at the Park Meadows mall south of Denver; the chain, with more than 50 locations nationwide, continues to operate a Champps at a Littleton shopping center.
The Champps chain also includes Fox and Hound Restaurants, but there are no plans to close the Fox and Hound location on the Springs' east side, Van Warner said.
"This is a one-restaurant by one-restaurant decision," he said.
Tessa Vera, who worked as a server and host during two stints totaling about a year, said the news was a shock. She learned about the closing at 9:30 Tuesday night after finishing work, coming home and receiving an email with the bad news.
Some days at the restaurant were slow, but others were very strong, she said.
"Everybody thought we'd stay forever," she said Thursday as some ex-employees filtered in and out of the restaurant.
Vera, 19, said she's concerned about the loss of her job; she and her boyfriend signed a lease two weeks ago to rent a house and are moving from an apartment.
"It's always tough out there to find something," Vera said.
Promenade Shops general manager Deanna DeLarge said the shopping center owners knew Champps planned to close, although she declined to say how long it had been in the works.
The shopping center was purchased in August for $96.8 million by a joint venture composed of the California Public Employees' Retirement System and Skokie, Ill.-based Miller Capital Advisory Inc.
DeLarge said the owners already are talking with several potential restaurant tenants for the 8,500-square-foot building.
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