Make us your home page
Instagram

To fans, loss of Brooksville Golden Corral like a kick to the tenderloin

A district manager said a new Spring Hill Golden Corral drew customers away from the Brooksville restaurant. But patrons are skeptical.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

A district manager said a new Spring Hill Golden Corral drew customers away from the Brooksville restaurant. But patrons are skeptical.

BROOKSVILLE — Charles Chick couldn't believe it, so he had to see for himself.

"For cryin' out loud," he said upon driving up to the restaurant where he so often enjoyed steak by the pound with his wife, Debra.

Brooksville's beloved Golden Corral was gone, now a building with bare buffet tables and a sign encouraging people to visit the chain's other locations.

Dozens of residents drove by Friday, some to make their regular lunch stop and others, like Chick, to find out if the rumors were true.

While overseeing cleanup, district manager Jerome Kelley explained that after the restaurant lost a chunk of customers to the Spring Hill spot that opened in December, it wasn't making enough money to stay afloat. The restaurant closed on Wednesday.

"We were hoping we'd have enough to keep both of them open, but we didn't," Kelley said.

The company is working to place the 42 employees and three managers at other locations, but the regulars were at a loss.

"I'm just really discouraged and disgusted this place closed," said David Moses, 48, who pulled up in his truck for the third time in 24 hours to get answers.

Moses said he has been to the restaurant hundreds of times. He doesn't want to find a new place to eat, but the alternative — driving to the Golden Corral in Spring Hill — is worse. He said he had a bad food and service experience there, and he's not going back.

Like many, Chick was shocked that the always-packed restaurant closed from lack of business. His first instinct was to blame it on the chocolate fondue fountain.

"It's got to be that damn waterfall," he said. "Kids would put their dirty fingers in there."

Soon after Chick left, Carlos Mejia rolled up in an SUV with his wife and 13-year-old son to grab lunch.

"It's closed?" asked Mejia, 56. His jaw dropped.

This is the restaurant he and his family used to visit before their Sunday bicycle rides, showing up right at 10:45 a.m. to catch the transition between breakfast and lunch. Now they'll have to settle for Publix subs.

Perhaps the most disgruntled customer was 71-year-old "Chief Billy" Barnes. Barnes ate at the restaurant every day, sometimes for two meals. On the weekends, he would fill up takeout containers with breakfast to take to local veterans.

"This is the only restaurant they had in town that was worth a s---," he said. "Everybody else around here, they got nasty-tasting food."

As the lunch rush died down, one man drove up on his motorcycle, walked across the parking lot and yanked at the locked door. When he finally saw the closing sign, he summed up everyone's feelings in two words.

"Well, (shucks)," but he didn't use the exact same word.

Staff writer Octavio Jones contributed to this report. Kathryn Varn can be reached at kvarn@tampabay.com or (352)754-6114.

To fans, loss of Brooksville Golden Corral like a kick to the tenderloin 06/20/14 [Last modified: Friday, June 20, 2014 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  2. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks

    Business

    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday

    Business

    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes

    Transportation

    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community over the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at the DOT’s Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Avenue.