These SLO County businesses, restaurants closed in 2018

Among the SLO County businesses that closed in 2018 were, clockwise from top left, Aaron Brothers in San Luis Obispo, Orchard Supply Hardware in Paso Robles and Pismo Beach, Artisan in Paso Robles and Margie’s Diner in SLO.
Among the SLO County businesses that closed in 2018 were, clockwise from top left, Aaron Brothers in San Luis Obispo, Orchard Supply Hardware in Paso Robles and Pismo Beach, Artisan in Paso Robles and Margie’s Diner in SLO.

San Luis Obispo County residents bid adieu to a host of restaurants, shops and industries during 2018.

This year’s list includes businesses in prominent downtown San Luis Obispo locations, such as Naked Fish, Ann’s Contemporary Clothing and The Gap. Some owners said this trend was the result of expensive rents and a changing business environment.

National chains that had become local favorites were among the closures, including Kmart in Arroyo Grande and Orchard Supply Hardware in Pismo Beach and Paso Robles.

Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and rifle manufacturer Weatherby also closed down operations in the county, leaving dozens of employees without jobs.

Here’s a rundown of the top business closings from around the county in 2018.


Artisan, Paso Robles

The gourmet restaurant in downtown Paso Robles closed in May, following the owners’ decision to move on and “pass the torch to the next generation.”

Just months later, Atascadero eatery Street Side Ale House moved into the 12th Street space and opened up its second North County location.

Naked Fish, San Luis Obispo

The sushi bar and Asian fusion restaurant closed its doors in December after its lease expired.

Owner David Cardinale said rents in downtown San Luis Obispo have become unreasonably high and are pushing out smaller businesses.

Two Naked Fish locations remain open in Paso Robles and South Lake Tahoe.

Margie’s Diner, San Luis Obispo

The famous diner — long visible to travelers driving through San Luis Obispo on Highway 101 — closed in February following owner Marjorie Johnson’s decision to focus on her Paso Robles location.

In October, the owners of Taco Temple, a Morro Bay favorite, announced plans to use the space to open a second location.

Also closed

Chipotle, San Luis Obispo

Foremost Wine Co., San Luis Obispo

Natural Cafe, San Luis Obispo

Splash Cafe, San Luis Obispo

Thomas Hill Organics, San Luis Obispo


Orchard Supply Hardware, Paso Robles and Pismo Beach

The Lowe’s-owned hardware retailer announced in August it would close all 99 of its stores in California Oregon and Florida to focus on its core home improvement business.

Two San Luis Obispo County stores were affected in Paso Robles and Pismo Beach.

Kmart, Arroyo Grande

Sears Holdings announced plans to close 64 of its “unprofitable” Kmart stores in January. The Arroyo Grande Big Kmart store shut its doors in April.

Plans to turn the shopping center into a 24-hour fitness facility and grocery store were floated in August.

The county still has one remaining Kmart location in Atascadero.

Ann’s Clothing, San Luis Obispo

The downtown San Luis Obispo retailer closed in September after decades in business.

Owner Ann Reeves, who started the shop as a Cal Poly project said she planned to retire after 47 years.

Aaron Brothers, San Luis Obispo

Craft retailer Michaels closed 94 of its Aaron Brothers frame shops in March, including one in downtown San Luis Obispo.

The retailer planned to fold the the brand into its Michaels locations as a “store within a store.” Michaels has two stores in the county — one in San Luis Obispo and another in Paso Robles.

Also closed

Betty’s Fabrics, San Luis Obispo

Borah’s Awards, San Luis Obispo

Brenda Sue’s Consignment, Morro Bay

The Gap, San Luis Obispo

Kevin Main Jewelry Design & Studio, San Luis Obispo

Marshalls Jewelers, San Luis Obispo

Local companies

Weatherby Inc., Paso Robles

The Paso Robles-based gun manufacturer announced plans to move to Sheridan, Wyoming, in January. The company was located in the county for more than 30 years — taking up residence in Atascadero in 1986 before moving to Paso Robles.

CEO Adam Weatherby said the company wanted to move to a location “where we could retain a great workforce, and where our employees could live an outdoor lifestyle.”

Lockheed Martin, San Luis Obispo

The aerospace and defense company in June announced plans to shut down operations in San Luis Obispo. At least 59 employees were impacted by the closure.

Really Right Stuff, San Luis Obispo

The photography equipment manufacturer in June decided to move its operations to Utah after two decades in the area.

CEO Joseph Johnson said rising costs in California made it tough for the company to compete in the global economy.

“We love beautiful San Luis Obispo, but our employees can’t afford to buy a home,” he said.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, North County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is a native Californian raised in the Midwest and earned degrees from DePaul and Northwestern universities.