DERRY — Fewer diners and a need to accommodate weddings and other special events has forced the popular Brookstone Grille to close.
The restaurant, located at Brookstone Event Center on Route 111, shut its doors Jan. 31, according to center general manager Alex van den Broek.
Four full-time and 16 part-time workers were laid off shortly after the last meal was served Jan. 29, he said. The business opened in 2005.
The slumping economy made it difficult for the restaurant to succeed, he said.
"The community liked the restaurant, but there is a lot of competition in the restaurant business," van den Broek said.
An increased demand for weddings at Brookstone meant more space was needed for the business to prosper, he said.
"Even in this economy, people are still getting married," van den Broek said. "For this year, there isn't a single Saturday left."
The decision to close the restaurant was bittersweet, especially since it meant laying off employees, van den Broek said.
Expanding Brookstone will begin this fall, with a 8,900-square-foot conference center and meeting room to be constructed on the second floor. The space was previously rented out, van den Broek said.
The 6,000-square-foot former restaurant will be used as function space, he said. No major changes will be made to the 4,000-square-foot ballroom.
There will be more space for outdoor bookings, he said. Special events, such as the traditional Easter brunch, will continue.
Brookstone now has four full-time employees and 25 part-timers, van den Broek said. Those numbers will double after the expansion, he said.
Customers who have gift certificates can receive refunds or redeem them at the pro shop, miniature golf course or event center, van den Broek said.
News of the restaurant's closing is circulating throughout the community.
Kristin Perry of Atkinson Resort & Country Club said she was sorry to hear Brookstone Grille shut its doors.
Perry agreed with van den Broek that the economy has taken its toll on local restaurants. But business at Atkinson has been improving, she said.
"It's picked up in the last year," Perry said.
William Parnell, president of the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, said he was disappointed to hear the restaurant closed. He said he enjoyed dining there.
"There is always a concern when a business closes down," he said. "I think it's a big loss to the community."
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