Napan Marlene Mansfield was shocked to discover she would not get her fish and chips at Friday afternoon.
The north Napa restaurant, along more than 50 California locations in the Perkins-Marie Callender's chain, unexpectedly closed last Sunday afternoon with no warning to its roughly 30 employees and many loyal customers.
Mansfield and her husband regularly enjoyed breakfast and lunch at Marie Callender's about three times a week, she said. They had just returned home from vacation and had not heard anything about the closure until they arrived to find the parking lot empty and the eatery dark.
“I’m just shocked. I can’t believe it’s closed. We have been coming here for 14 years,” Mansfield said.
There is no notice informing customers of the closure, but the building's exterior has been stripped of the colorful signs and banners that once promoted its pies and meal specials to passing motorists on Highway 29.
Mansfield said she would likely take her business and appetite to the Black Bear Diner on Soscol Avenue in south Napa.
Also surprised to learn of the abrupt closure was the restaurant's next-door neighbor, 60-room . Marie Callender’s offered the hotel guests a complementary continental breakfast or $5 discount off its menu.
James Engstrom, the inn’s general manager, said he is scrambling to fill the void created by the shuttered restaurant.
“We are in negotiations with other nearby restaurants,” Engstrom said Friday. “We received no advance warning this was going to happen. It was a corporate decision. We had no idea something was going on.”
“I really feel sorry for the employees and customers. Some of the workers have been with them at least 14 years that I am aware of,” said Engstrom, who has worked at the hotel for that long.
“I really hurt for them (workers.)"
Engstrom said he found out about the closure from hotel guests who were unable to get something to eat.
“It has been a trying week for us,” he said, adding this is the beginning of the busy season for the inn.
Other disappointed customers include Ivey Shirley, who drove all the way from Vallejo Friday to have a chicken potpie lunch.
“I think this is awful. Before coming here, I used to go to the one in Fairfield until it closed several years ago. So I started coming here for breakfast and lunch,” Shirley said.
She was also attracted to the restaurant for its salad bar. A lot of places don’t offer that any more, she said.
“They also had a fantastic Sunday champagne brunch. And they had a lot of good shade,” Shirley said, adding she and her husband like to make the drive with their dog.
New York-based investment firm Castle Harlan Inc. closed its Perkins-Marie Callender's chain under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code, which allows for reorganization.
According to a corporate press release, Perkins & Marie Calender’s filed for the protection due to “a sharp decline in restaurant sales.”
The company listed total assets at $290 million and liabilities of $440.8 million.
Corporate representatives who visited the Napa site Friday declined to identify themselves or the owner of the property at 1998 Trower Ave.