ELLSWORTH, Maine — The Fuddruckers restaurant chain that claims to sell “the world’s greatest hamburger” has ended its first attempt at establishing a northern New England outlet.
Postings on the Ellsworth restaurant’s Facebook page and the front door of its former State Street storefront at the Tradewinds Market plaza announced the closure.
“It has been a difficult decision after being open over 3 years. We have had a lot of regular customers, but we have not established enough consistent business to make the restaurant viable long term,” according to a letter signed “Fuddruckers management.” “Seasonal business, rising labor costs and overall costs of doing business have prevented us from covering our expenses.”
The letter suggested that patrons visit the Fuddruckers in and near Boston and said that gift certificates
A tweet from Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday addressed the closing and took a swipe at the Legislature.
“Fuddruckers is closing due to 3 factors: ‘Seasonal business, rising labor costs & overall costs of doing business have prevented us from covering our expenses,’” according to the tweet. “Government can’t solve 1st; Legislature must solve 2&3. Get gov’t out of the way.”
Fuddruckers is closing due to 3 factors: "Seasonal business, rising labor costs & overall costs of doing business have prevented us from covering our expenses." Government can't solve 1st; Legislature must solve 2&3. Get gov't out of the way #mepolitics https://t.co/7fzQuY3blZ
— Paul R. LePage (@Governor_LePage) June 19, 2018
People who responded to the posting on the page lamented the end of the Ellsworth eatery. But many attributed the closure to Fuddruckers’ high prices, not the economic and political factors LePage cited.
“Sorry to see them go they really do have a great burger but their prices were just high for this area,” one said. “You can get a great burger in this town for a much cheaper price.”
“Oh no! We love Fuddruckers! Sorry to see you go,” another said.
Despite the sign being stripped from the front of the restaurant at the Tradewinds plaza on Tuesday, a man and woman, who said they had traveled 14 hours from Alaska on their way to Southwest Harbor, still approached the front door before leaving.
“We wanted a bite to eat,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “It’s too bad. They did do a good business here. You hate to see a good business go out.”
Owned by Luby’s Inc., of Houston, Texas, Fuddruckers listed 110 franchise locations on its website. That includes 67 in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, with the rest in Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Colombia.
Fuddruckers has four stores in Massachusetts and three in Connecticut, according to its store locator.
The Ellsworth restaurant opened at a Tradewinds store in spring 2015. The 9,500 square-foot building included a Tim Hortons restaurant and was anchored by a Tradewinds convenience store and gas station similar to other Tradewinds stores.
The building’s owner at the time said that he sought out Fuddruckers. The company was initially skeptical of expanding to northern New England, he said, but managers were quickly convinced after he showed them how much seasonal traffic passes the location en route to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.
Fuddruckers sales at company-owned restaurants decreased $2.9 million versus the second quarter fiscal 2017, according to an earnings release on its website. The company attributed the downturn to eight restaurant closings and a 6.4 percent decrease in same-store sales that was the result of a 11.8 percent decrease in guest traffic.
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