BEND, Ore. - A seafood restaurant that has been a northeast Bend fixture for three decades closed abruptly just before Christmas Eve, much to the shock and surprise of both patrons and the employees who learned it was their last day.
"After 30 years of serving the wonderful people of Central Oregon, we have lost our lease," read the notice on the front door of McGrath's Fish House at the Bend River Promenade, from founder John McGrath.
The note went on to say, "Gift cards can be redeemed at any McGrath's Fish House or by calling 503-399-8456 or email firstname.lastname@example.org."
The McGrath’s corporate headquarters in Salem was closed for the holiday weekend, but workers told NewsChannel 21 by email and on Facebook that word of the closure, and final paychecks, came suddenly, just before Christmas.
Gabriel Bessey wrote that he knows "several families whose lives are going to suffer because of this horrible decision."
John "J.J." Lewis said he was an associate manager at the restaurant, which he called a "Bend landmark," and said of the closure: "It's a sad day to see."
Lewis said employees were notified by a company official Friday night and told they could return to pick up their final checks Saturday morning.
The McGrath's Fish House website lists 10 other locations around the West -- six in western Oregon, two in Washington and one each in Boise, Idaho and Sandy, Utah. The chain had 20 restaurants when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 2010, including four in Utah and three in Arizona.
McGrath's sudden shutdown was the second restaurant closure of the year at the Northeast Third Street shopping center. Izzy's Pizza closed its Bend location in April, replaced by a Round Table Pizza outlet.