The TGI Fridays restaurant that had operated on Route 60 in Vernon Hills for 25 years closed abruptly Monday in what appears to be an isolated case.
Would-be diners are being directed to locations in Wheeling and Lake Zurich in a situation that appeared to catch everyone off guard even though the 1.55-acre property at 151 E. Townline Road is listed for sale at $2.2 million.
"The TGI Fridays restaurant in Vernon Hills was closed by our franchise partner at the end of their lease," according to a company statement. "This was a decision that was not made lightly, as we understand the impact it has on its 15 team members and leadership, as well as our guests who have enjoyed dining with us."
Employees have found work at "neighboring restaurants," according to the company. TGI Fridays also operates a Lake County location in Gurnee.
"The date of the closing came as a surprise to us as we had no prior notification," said Village Manager Mark Fleischhauer.
He said there had been rumors the business was planning to close at the end of the year, but when a village official inquired, a person at the restaurant said employees hadn't heard that and the business would continue to operate as normal.
According to village records, the franchisee is Central Florida Restaurant Inc., based in Fremont, California. A person who answered the phone there said she would check for more details but did not follow up.
The Vernon Hills store opened in 1993, said TGI Fridays spokesman Brian Conway. The franchisee chose not to extend its lease, he added, saying only it was a business decision.
"We have no indication at this point that this is anything other than an isolated closure," he said. "All other TGI Fridays restaurants in the area remain open for operation, and we hope that Vernon Hills guests will continue to join us at those locations."