***UPDATED at 6:01 P.M. on Monday, March 7th***
Augusta, GA – About two dozen employees arrived at work Sunday morning only to find out they were out of a job. The Ryan’s in Augusta shut its doors for good.
WJBF News Channel found out 24 hours later that Food Management Partners, the company that owns Ryan’s and other restaurants, such as Old County Buffett, plans to file Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. The company points to a decline in sales and a lawsuit from an incident in 2010.
A U-Haul truck parked in the back of the lone Augusta Ryan’s was bad news for workers who didn’t even have time to get breakfast started.
Robert Bradley, an employee at the company told us, “You walking in thinking that you’re going to have something to cook and you getting told that you get laid off.”
Jesse Mills, the hospitality manager for the store, heard the bad news from his General Manager.
“You’re going to join me on that unemployment line today.”
The only work to be done at the Peach Orchard Road store was loading up the moving truck to take items to North Augusta. Our cameras spotted that same U-Haul at the Ryan’s across the river. The news hit hard and unexpectedly for some two dozen food-service employees.
“Shocked though because we were just open last night. Nobody ain’t get no notification or nothing,” the husband and father said.
Leon Lewis, who worked at the Ryan’s location part time for two decades said, “We were busy. We were booming!”
Mills told us he heard rumors of a shutdown just hours before it happened.
“When I came down here, turned in my keys, said my goodbyes. I’ve only been here for six months,” he said.
This father of four now joins his co-workers, who are all trying to figure out who’s hiring.
“You ain’t got no two week’s notice to go try to find another job. It’s hard as it is. You won’t be able to succeed like that and I think it’s a hurting feeling that you ain’t got no job like that,” he told News Channel 6.
Not only is this news to employees it’s news to customers who came here this morning expecting breakfast.
Burke County resident Mary Godbee pulled up Sunday morning as part of her weekly routine. “I buy breakfast here every Sunday morning for my mother and they’re going to shut it down? Where am I going to buy breakfast from?”
A manager told WJBF News Channel 6 Food Management Partners bought out Ryan’s in September.
“Not even a month ago, they shut down 80 stores,” Mills told us.
Several WJBF News Channel 6 viewers reacted to the news on social media. One of the biggest concerns was for the decline in businesses in the South Augusta area.
“I get grits, eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits; and no more food. Well, I guess I got to go find somewhere else. I guess I got to go to Krystal’s,” Godbee said.
As for the bankruptcy, a press release points to a decline in sales and the company being sued a few years ago.
This closure comes after the Sonic Drive-In abruptly closed about a month ago, pointing to the livelihood of businesses in South Augusta.
Several businesses have left that area, leaving abandoned buildings as an eyesore. While some new franchises have come such as Chi-Fil-A, there are still concerns about growth there. We caught up with Commissioner Sammie Sias who has held community meetings at the Peach Orchard Road Ryan’s. He said it’s always a concern when a business closes, but that opens up doors for more businesses to come. He said efforts are underway now to grow South Augusta.
“What we’re trying to put together is an entity that will recruit folks, in other words, if you go by raw statistics you might not know what the neighborhood or what the neighborhood will support. But if you have some information that’s being furnished by us then we know that we can attract the right commercial and retail developments,” he said.
Sias plans to immediately address the issue. Economic Development Authority Chairman Henry Ingram will speak at the commissioner’s monthly Community Breakfast this Saturday. It takes place at 9:00 a.m. at the Jamestown Community Center in Hephzibah. He said the focus will be on commercial and retail recruitment for Augusta outside of Downtown Development Authority footprint.
***POSTED at 9:01 A.M. on Sunday, March 6th***
Augusta, GA – Ryan’s employees say the location on Peach Orchard Road is closing.
News Channel 6 learned about it this morning. Some customers say they were turned away when trying to go eat breakfast.
U-Haul trucks are in the parking lot. And some workers say they are taking all the equipment from the restaurant and transporting it to the North Augusta location.
We called corporate, but have not received a response.
Count on News Channel 6 to keep you updated.