Business

A popular Gig Harbor pizzeria recently closed. Will it make a comeback?

UPDATE OCT. 31: Pizzeria Fondi reopened Oct. 28.

Pizzeria Fondi, a popular restaurant to many in Gig Harbor, abruptly closed Sept. 28.

It might not be shuttered for long.

Word came Thursday that the brand could be revived via a new local ownership group using the same menu and name at the same location, possibly by mid-month.

That’s according to John Hogan, Uptown Gig Harbor managing partner.

No further details were immediately available.

While Fondi’s closure surprised its clientele, the fallout has spanned beyond Gig Harbor.

The action was part of the aftermath of RUI Holding Corp. and three affiliated companies, including Seattle-based Restaurants Unlimited, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July.

Fondi was among the 18 restaurant brands in 35 locations throughout six states named in the filing.

Last week, the $37.2 million sale of Restaurants Unlimited to Houston-based Landry’s Inc. was approved. Landry’s has since picked the brands it wants.

In response to questions from The News Tribune, Steve Scheinthal, executive vice president and general counsel for Landry’s issued a statement:

“Although Restaurants Unlimited is an iconic restaurant company with unparalleled locations, stretching from Anchorage, Alaska through the Pacific Northwest, nevertheless, it was forced to file bankruptcy due to owning and operating a number of unprofitable restaurants.”

“We selected their top units and are unaware of the disposition of the locations we didn’t take.”

In a message on its website, Fondi’s said: “We are thankful to have hosted so many of your celebrations and to have been a part of this wonderful community.”

At the location on Thursday, signs were still seen on the doors to announce the closure: “Serving and supporting our community was personal, not just business,” the message read.

It also added: “Stick around. We are HOPING to rectify this.”

Other restaurants listed with Fondi in the July bankruptcy filing included Clinkerdagger; Cutters Crabhouse; Henry’s Tavern; Horatio’s; Kincaid’s; Maggie Bluffs; Manzana; Newport Seafood Grill; Palisade; Palomino; Portland City Grill; Portland Seafood Company; Scott’s Bar and Grill; Simon & Seafort’s; Skate’s on the Bay; and Stanford’s.

Stanley & Seafort’s, at 115 E. 34th St. in Tacoma, also was among those on the list and was among those acquired by Landry’s.

Landry’s has a vast array of businesses under its corporate umbrella, including the restaurant chains McCormick & Schmick’s, Rainforest Cafe, Joe’s Crab Shack, and others.

Landry’s also operates Golden Nugget Hotels & Casinos, including the Las Vegas and Atlantic City properties; hotels such as the Westin Houston Downtown; and aquariums in Houston, Denver and Nashville.

Landry’s owner and CEO, Tilman Fertitta, also owns the Houston Rockets and on Sept. 17 published his first book, “Shut Up and Listen!” According to a Landry’s company Facebook post, the book “includes details and strategies that have helped grow our company from a single restaurant to over 600 properties around the world.”

The Oregonian reported Thursday that RUI’s bankruptcy and sale ultimately led to the closure of a dozen restaurants on the West Coast, amid a scramble toward new ownership for some of the brands, including Fondi.

Ascend Hospitality Group of Bellevue snapped up some of the Stanford’s sites and the Portland Seafood Grill, according to The Seattle Times.

Back in Gig Harbor, Justin Himenes, owner of the Gig Harbor Round Table Pizza, announced this week that he was not only willing to honor unused Fondi gift cards but also willing to consider Fondi’s former employees for potential hires at his restaurant.

He encouraged those seeking work to stop in at Round Table to apply, 5500 Olympic Drive NW in the Olympic Village shopping center.

“I just want to help the community,” Himenes told The News Tribune. “And hopefully, help workers in the interim if they need work. I can’t imagine just showing up for work someplace and being told it is closed.”

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