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Final Soul Daddy unit is shuttered

TV reality show fast-casual concept closes third location in Mall of America

Editor's note: The story below is an updated version, which includes a new quote from a Soul Daddy spokeswoman on founder Jamawn Woods' level of awareness regarding the closure.

Proving that a television reality show may not be the best way to give birth to a restaurant chain, the third and final location of Soul Daddy, the winner of the “America’s Next Great American Restaurant” reality show competition, closed its doors in Bloomington, Minn., on Tuesday.

Two other locations in Los Angeles and New York closed earlier this month after less than two months in business.

All three Soul Daddy units had opened May 5 in conjunction with the finale of the TV series on NBC, in which entrepreneurs pitched restaurant chain ideas to a panel of investors that included Chipotle Mexican Grill founder Steve Ells and celebrity chefs Bobby Flay, Lorena Garcia and Curtis Stone.

In a statement Wednesday, Soul Daddy officials said the difficult decision to close the Mall of America location in Bloomington was made after careful consideration and a thorough review of its performance.

“It was a difficult decision for us, as we wanted to see Soul Daddy succeed, but the restaurant simply was not performing as we had hoped,” the statement said.

“We’d like to thank all of the customers who tried our restaurants and the people who worked hard to try to make the restaurant succeed.”

The news was reportedly a surprise to Soul Daddy’s founder Jamawn Woods, who told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he was informed of the first closure just hours after putting a bid on a home in Lakeville, Minn.

Woods had been planning to spend a year training at the Mall of America location while serving as a spokesman for the fast-casual soul food concept.

However, a spokeswoman for Soul Daddy said Thursday that the news was not a surprise to Woods, who she described as a partner and owner in the business and involved in the decision. “The decision to close the restaurant was made by the investor group as a whole, which Jamawn is a part of,” she said.

Industry experts watching the program earlier this year had warned that opening three units of a new chain concept in three different cities at once could be a difficult challenge.

“America’s Next Great Restaurant,” which was created by Magical Elves — the same production team that developed the “Top Chef” TV franchise — also received underwhelming reviews.

According to the website TV Series Finale, the show was not picked up for a second season.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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