After 30 years in business servicing New Jersey residents, Old Bay Restaurant is closing its downtown location, marking another addition to the growing list of New Jersey restaurants shuttering their doors. The closings come as Millennials are increasingly seeking out healthier foods, and at times fast food, in favor of the casual dining experiences that dot the American landscape.
The seafood restaurant closing also shutters a venue that was known to provide exposure for local musicians, although the restaurant that is opening in its place promises to keep that tradition alive.
The Old Bay Restaurant’s shutdown will naturally entail layoffs, although the exact amount is unknown. It’s also unknown how many employees, if any, will remain on to work with the new restaurant opening in its place.
The New Brunswick, New Jersey restaurant closing will impact the community, as Old Bay was a focal point of the area for some.
30 Years Old Seafood Restaurant to Close in December, Irish Pub to Replace
Old Bay Restaurant shutting down means that an institution that had been in the area for 30 years will no longer be operational, instead replaced by an Irish pub.
The owner, Anthony Tola, wrote about the Old Bay Restaurant’s closure in a lengthy post on Facebook:
On the flip side, this specific casual-dining restaurant closing makes way for Blackthorn Restaurant and Irish Pub to come in.
“With the grand re-opening of Old Bay to Blackthorn Restaurant and Irish Pub II we look forward to welcoming the neighborhood of New Brunswick and surrounding towns with open arms,” said Carolyn Rhoades, the marketing manager for the restaurant’s parent company, IPE Holdings.
Still, even with the new restaurant coming in, it will be a bitter pill to swallow for those who have grown to love Old Bay in its past three decades operating in the area.
“In closing, I want to thank again everyone that has passed through our doors,” Tola wrote in his post. “I have been blessed to get to know many of you.”
Millennials Prefer Quick-Serve Restaurants
Hardly the only casual dining establishment to feel the sting in 2017, the Old Bay Restaurant’s closing represents a disturbing trend that’s becoming more prevalent in the food business.
Several chain restaurant locations have also shuttered in New Jersey throughout the year, with one of the primary causes being Millennials looking elsewhere for meals.
While the share of Americans’ expenditures on dining out has gone up in recent years, many are turning towards casual quick service restaurants, and also at times healthier options, leaving casual dining restaurants in an uncomfortable position. Neither casual enough to appeal to the fast service lovers, nor niche enough to attract those looking for variety or health benefits to their meals.
As for New Jersey, there have been a number of New Jersey restaurants closed in 2017, which we’ll take a look at below.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill has been one of the hardest hit, with three New Jersey locations shuttering in February, including in Egg Harbor, Evesham and Middletown, building on the nationwide closures that the company has experienced.
Joe’s Crab Shack closed in New Jersey in 2017 as well, with two locations being shut down in recent months–one in Brick, the other in Eatontown. Joe’s Crab Shack’s parent company filed for bankruptcy in June, meaning that many closures are taking place across the country. Declining sales have hurt the company immensely in recent years.
Outback Steakhouse closed in 2017 as well, in Lawrenceville.
Finally, a Bonefish Grill in Middletown shuttered in February, again part of a nationwide effort to make up for underperforming sales.
All in all, many of these casual-dining chains are struggling to find a way to compete in a changing marketplace that values both speed and niche over casual, wide-net restaurants.
“Old Bay Restaurant closing after 30 years in New Brunswick; Irish pub on tap,” NJ.com, November 17, 2017.
“5 Outback, Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s restaurants close in N.J.,” NJ.com, February 18, 2017.