Ted’s Montana Grill, the Atlanta-based casual-dining chain, shuttered nine underperforming restaurants around the country on Monday.
George McKerrow Jr., who co-founded the 46-unit chain with media entrepreneur Ted Turner, called the closings “unfortunate.”
“It’s been a rough time for our industry,” said McKerrow, founder of LongHorn Steakhouse and chief executive of Ted’s Montana Grill. “We had to get smaller before we get bigger. It’s always a tough thing to do. We were struggling in those markets.”
The nine Ted’s Montana Grill units that were closed were chiefly in the Midwest: three in Kansas City, two in Wichita, Kan., one in Omaha, Neb., and one in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Ill. The other two closings were in Sterling, Va. and Raleigh, N.C.
McKerrow said he expects 30 percent of the 250 employees affected by the closings to stay with Ted’s Montana Grill. Those who remain will be transferred to other units, he said.
The closings come on the heels of a new Ted’s Montana Grill that opened in Boulder, Colo., this autumn. It marks the ninth Colorado location.
McKerrow said the Front Range of the Rockies is being considered for new restaurants in places such as Boise, Idaho, and Cheyenne, Wyo.
Colorado remains the top market for Ted’s Montana Grill, but the restaurants in the northern Florida cities of Tallahassee and Jacksonville are among the top performing in the chain, he said.
Other new markets being considered are Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando and Ocala in Florida; the Carolinas and Georgia; and the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area, McKerrow said.
The 8-year-old Ted’s Montana Grill specializes in beef, bison, gourmet hamburgers and homemade comfort foods such as meatloaf. The current menu also includes crab cakes, pecan-crusted trout, chicken grills and vegetable sides. Average entrée menu items range from $6 to $20.
However, McKerrow said the chain is planning some menu changes. The new menu will feature lighter fare, with smaller portions, new salads and more healthful items such as a vegetable plate, he said.
In addition the restaurants’ chefs will be cooking more with olive oil and lighter oils, he said.
The first Ted’s Montana Grill opened in Columbus, Ohio, in January, 2002.
Alan Snel is a contributor to Nation's Restaurant News. Contact editor Sarah E. Lockyer at [email protected].