SLO County businesses that closed in 2017

Among the businesses that closed this year in San Luis Obispo County were, clockwise from top left, Sears, Panolivo, Applebee’s and Payless ShoeSource.
Among the businesses that closed this year in San Luis Obispo County were, clockwise from top left, Sears, Panolivo, Applebee’s and Payless ShoeSource.

The past year saw the addition of numerous new businesses in San Luis Obispo (hello, DSW), but we also lost several longstanding stores and restaurants as 2017 wore on.

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Here’s a look at some of the places we said goodbye to this year.

April: Goodbye chains

Applebee’s in Paso Robles. Tonya Strickland

▪  Payless ShoeSource: The Topeka-based retailer announced it was immediately closing nearly 400 Payless ShoeSource stores nationwide after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, which allows it to continue operating while working out a plan to repay debt. Forty-nine of the closures were in California, including the Five Cities Center location in Arroyo Grande.

▪  RadioShack: RadioShack stores in San Luis Obispo, Grover Beach and Atascadero closed, after parent company General Wireless Operations announced March 8 that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and would shutter about 200 locations nationwide and evaluate whether to retain another 1,300. (Good news for its fans though: Coast Electronics expanded from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo in July, offering RadioShack brand items.)

▪  Applebee’s: The Applebee’s in San Luis Obispo suddenly closed, just over a week after the Applebee’s in Paso Robles closed. The restaurant chain planned to close between 40 and 60 locations in 2017. Both local closures were announced via signs on the door.

May: Online shopping closes longtime businesses

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Sears at Madonna Plaza in San Luis Obispo. David Middlecamp

▪  Verena’s Go Gourmet: Verena Maier owned Verena’s Go Gourmet and Tea Shop in Arroyo Grande for 13 years, but at the end of May she closed its doors for good, citing poor sales and competition with online retailers. Maier said the business at 127 W. Branch St. has struggled since the recession in 2008, though she “powered through” for several years afterward in hopes that sales could rebound.

▪  Sears: Sears, which has operated a location in San Luis Obispo for nearly 90 years, announced it would close its store in the Madonna Plaza shopping center in late July. The store was an anchor of the shopping center for decades, outlasting competitors like Gottschalks and Mervyn’s and the comings and goings of stores like Forever 21 and Sports Authority, even as its own sales dwindled and more and more shoppers migrated online. Ross Dress for Less and Michael’s crafts are expected to fill two of three renovated spaces in its former location.

June: Lost luggage and your teen’s closet

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San Luis Luggage in San Luis Obispo. Joe Johnston

▪  San Luis Luggage: San Luis Luggage, which was a fixture in downtown San Luis Obispo for 47 years, closed over the summer. Bob Douglass, who owned the store with his wife, said he shut the business because the lease was up at the end of July. The store had been in its building at 1135 Chorro St. since 1989.

▪  Rue21: Teen fashion retailer Rue21 closed its location at the Premium Outlets in Pismo Beach. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in mid-May and announced it would close around 400 of its more than 1,100 stores nationwide, including the San Luis Obispo County location.

September: No more Fresh

▪  Baja Fresh: The last Baja Fresh Mexican Grill in San Luis Obispo County closed in September. A handwritten note from owners Yves Simoneau and Nathaly Blais posted on the doorway of the restaurant at 929 Rancho Parkway in Arroyo Grande notified customers of the closure and thanked them for “supporting our business along those years.”

November/December: Last call at SLO County restaurants

Thomas Hill Organic in San Luis Obispo. Joe Johnston

▪  Panolivo: Paso Robles restaurant Panolivo closed after brunch Nov. 12, its owners announced in a Facebook post. “After 15 years of serving delicious food to over 1 million guests, we are retiring,” read the post by owners Didier and Beatrice Cop. “It is now time now to focus on our family and grandchildren.” Farm-to-table restaurant Farmstead Kitchen and Catering took over the restaurant’s 1344 Park St. location.

▪  Thomas Hill Organics: Thomas Hill Organic Kitchen closed in downtown San Luis Obispo, just over a year after opening in the SLO Collection on Monterey Street. The restaurant, which served “organic, regionally produced food,” gained attention in such media outlets as Vogue, Daily Meal and Bloomberg News.

▪  Pluto’s: Pluto’s, a fresh food restaurant in downtown San Luis Obispo, closed its doors on Dec. 18. The restaurant, located at 1122 Chorro St. in the historic Wineman building, opened in 2013. The San Francisco-based chain — known for its made-to-order salads and freshly carved meats — operates nine locations throughout California. “It really was just due to lack of business,” said Gerry Bugas, owner of Pluto’s. “We did pretty good, but not good enough.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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The Foster's Freeze sign in downtown San Luis Obispo, California, was taken down Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.