The Hometown Buffet restaurant in the Promenade shopping center in San Luis Obispo has suddenly closed.
The restaurant’s owner, Food Management Partners, announced this week that it closed 74 “underperforming” restaurants as part of its business holdings as of Thursday.
The properties included Old Country Buffet, Hometown Buffet, Ryan’s, Fire Mountain Buffet and Country Buffet restaurants throughout the country.
“While we cannot predict future market conditions, the plan is to continue operating the remaining (company) restaurants as they are financially viable,” said Peter Donbavand, the company’s vice president of business development.
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Employees of the San Luis Obispo restaurant were notified this week to pick up their last paycheck.
On Friday afternoon, remaining staff worked to dismantle the restaurant but declined to comment. A sign on the door announced the closure, to the dismay of patrons who stopped by for an early dinner.
It was pretty devastating for them to come to work and find out they didn’t have a job.
Ruth Sarabia, Goodwill job placement specialist
America’s Job Center program, operated under Goodwill in San Luis Obispo, is helping the workers get assistance in filing for unemployment and finding new jobs. The program offers free employment-related services for those in need. Some, shedding tears, have already come in, said Ruth Sarabia, a Goodwill job placement specialist.
“It was pretty devastating for them to come to work and find out they didn’t have a job,” Sarabia said. “We’ve had people in here yesterday, today, and some coming Monday morning. We’re helping them out, lifting them up and just trying to hold their hand and guide them in the process.”
Sarabia said her office also is helping the workers update and edit résumés, identify websites with job listings and practice their interview skills, among other services.
“We had six people who had been working at Hometown Buffet come in yesterday (Thursday) and five today (Friday),” Sarabia said. “One stated she had been working there for close to 10 years. These are people who worked in the kitchen, as cashiers, everything.”
Sarabia said that some were offered positions in the Santa Maria Hometown Buffet restaurant, but two people she talked to said the commute would be too far from where they lived in Los Osos. They already struggled to commute to their San Luis Obispo job, Sarabia said.
These workers weren’t expecting this to happen.
Allison Schiavo, Goodwill’s America’s Job Center workforce services director
Allison Schiavo, Goodwill’s workforce services director, said the office provides a comfortable environment for asking questions, getting advice and practicing for job interviews.
“These workers weren’t expecting this to happen,” Schiavo said. “We’re helping people to move forward.”
The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays at 880 Industrial Way in San Luis Obispo.