The Bonefish Grill at Thruway shopping center, a fixture on the Winston-Salem restaurant scene for almost 16 years, closed at the end of the business day on Tuesday.

A message at the restaurant’s telephone number recommended that diners visit the company’s website to find another location. The closest store that remains open is on Koury Boulevard in Greensboro.

Bonefish Grill is one of several chains owned by Bloomin’ Brands, based in Tampa, Fla. The company also owns the Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill chains, which have locations here that remain open under pandemic restrictions.

Elizabeth Watts, speaking for Bloomin’ Brands, said in an email that the company’s lease had expired, resulting in the closure. Watts said all employees would receive a severance package.

“We appreciate the community support over the years,” Watts said.

A financial update by Bloomin’ Brands issued June 11 said the company had pivoted to an off-premises sales model during the COVID-19 pandemic, and had been able to triple off-premises sales while the restaurant’s dining rooms were closed.

The same statement said that sales at the Bonefish Grill chain for the week ending June 6 were off 40.5% nationwide, compared with the same period last year. That was an improvement from the week of May 10, when sales were off 62.4%.

Bonefish Grill opened here in 2004 as the chain’s sixth North Carolina location. It took over a site at Thruway that had formerly been occupied by another restaurant, Houlihan’s.

In early May, Bloomin’ Brands had filed notice with the state that it would reduce hours for more than 4,100 employees statewide because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. At that time, the company said that it had not terminated any employees and had no plans to do so.

In May, the company said there were 37 employees at the Thruway location.

Journal reviewer Candide Jones, visiting Winston-Salem’s Bonefish Grill in September, 2004, liked the dining area, which she called “simultaneously sleek and hip, yet cozy and warm.” She noted that the restaurant was part of a chain, but found the food “a notch above most chains.”



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