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Dagwood’s headquarters said to be shuttered

CLEARWATER Fla. Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes LLC has closed its corporate office here and laid off corporate employees, according to sources affiliated with the fledgling sandwich chain. A formal announcement about the shutdown is expected early next week, one source indicated.

Several calls made to corporate officials on Friday were not returned.

Dagwood's, which was co-founded by "Blondie" newspaper cartoonist Dean Young and Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits veteran Lamar Berry, announced plans to open its first store in 2006 in Tampa, Fla. The corporate website lists 13 stores currently open in seven states, with seven more opening soon.

The concept is based on the towering Dagwood sandwich, which debuted in the "Blondie" comic strip 70 years ago, six years after the cartoon first made a splash in newspapers. "Blondie" was created in 1930 by Dean Young's father, Chic Young. The son now produces the strip.

Cliff Cole, operations manager for Dagwood’s Mobile, Ala., market, said that he had heard of the closing, but had received no official confirmation.

“We hear they are supposed to make some kind of formal announcement on Monday, so at least until then we don’t know how this is going to affect us,” he said.

Cole’s boss is Lance Harris, a partner in the territory. Harris has several stores already in operation and had previously announced plans to open about 78 of the sandwich shops in that market.

Stephen Orcutt, manager for one of Harris’ locations in Gulf Breeze, Fla., said that he had heard that all corporate employees were let go on Thursday.

“I heard that no one was working,” he said. “I don’t know if the closing has been made officially known yet, but I did hear they might be moving to an office in Louisiana.”

Bob Coston, owner of a store in Largo, Fla., and a market partner with rights to open 50 stores in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area, said that he had heard in the past day that several corporate employees had been laid off. He added, however, that he had not heard the headquarters was shutting down.

“Our Largo store is doing well though, at least for a store that has been open for just 10 months,” he said. “We are new at this, and this is, of course, something I am going to investigate because it could be very harmful to us.”

The general manager at the chain’s flagship store in Palm Harbor, Fla., would not comment.

Along with two other partners, Greg Paul is a principal in the Cleveland market with rights to open 45 stores in northern Ohio. Paul, who is still in process of opening the first Dagwood’s in that territory, said it was too premature to comment.

“I have heard of the closure, but I am still in the process of trying to find out what happened,” he said. “But I will tell you whatever it is can be fixed, because this is a great concept with fantastic food.”

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