The Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery on West Shaw Avenue in Fresno closed last week – but don’t expect it to stay empty for long.
The 6,700-square-foot restaurant was at the corner of Shaw and Marty avenues since 1996. The pastry case that once held Marie’s famous pies is empty, as is the restaurant, though tables and chairs and other equipment remain.
A sign in the front door says: “We regret to announce that this Marie Callender’s restaurant has closed.”
Its lease was close to expiring and sluggish sales played a role in its closure, said Steve Rontell, a retail broker with Colliers International who helps businesses and landlords lease or buy properties. It’s one of three Marie Callender’s in Fresno, with the other two remaining open.
“They both do very well,” he said. “This one here just wasn’t performing as well as they’d like.”
The closure comes just days after Elephant Bar’s on Blackstone Avenue closed and the closure of Craft Beer Wine Bistro in the new center at Friant Road and Fresno Street.
Marie Callender’s would only say that the closure was lease related, and said in an email to The Bee: “Closing a restaurant is always a difficult decision. We are very grateful to the guests who patronized the W. Shaw location over the years, and thankful to the employees for their service.”
The restaurant is encouraging now out-of-work employees to apply at other Marie Callender’s in town.
It’s not clear why the West Shaw restaurant closed since it’s on a high-profile building at a busy corner. That same corner also has a Panera Bread, HomeTown Buffet, Chili’s Grill & Bar and an Applebee’s. Not far away are a Sonic Drive-In, Takumi Japanse Restaurant and a handful of other fast-food places.
“Applebee’s does very well next door,” Rontell said. “Maybe it’s American food next to American food. I don’t know.”
Rontell, who is leasing the property, expects it won’t stay empty for long.
“There aren’t a lot of restaurants that can take that big of a space,” he said, “but I think if some of the barbecue chains, or an Asian chain – or it could be local, too – a big Mexican food restaurant would work.”
There’s also a large Sikh community in that part of town, he noted.
“I also envision an Indian restaurant out there,” he said. “There’s a lot of different ways it could go.”