VENICE — At least a half-dozen eateries specializing in Americana foods are closing shop, including Pizza Hut shops in Englewood, Punta Gorda and Venice.

Among those shuttered is the South Venice Pizza Hut in the 1800 block of South Tamiami Trail — which originally opened in the 1970s.

Both Venice locations were closed as a part of a bankruptcy from its parent corporation.

“I’m going to miss our regulars,” Rachel Baker said.

Baker is the restaurant general manager at the South Venice Pizza Hut. She said she’d worked at the location for more than five years.

After managers were informed via conference call Tuesday morning about the situation, she was taking calls from customers seeking pizza orders and employees wondering about work.

She calmly explained the situation on the phone to both.

Baker said she had a good crew.

“Most of them have been with me the entire time,” she said.

An email to NPC Media, the public relations firm involved with the restaurants, suggested it was done to keep the entire corporation afloat.

“As part of our restructuring process, we made the very difficult decision to close the North Venice and South Venice Pizza Hut restaurants in Sarasota County and the Punta Gorda and Englewood Pizza Hut locations in Charlotte County,” the email stated.

It said it didn’t take the decision lightly and was “committed to providing support to impacted employees.”

The email from NPC International said they would not give the number of workers let go in the effort.

“Ultimately, these actions will best position our remaining restaurant business for success. NPC’s other Pizza Hut restaurants across the country remain open for business, supported by our 23,000 dedicated employees who are ready to serve our customers.”

Phone calls to Punta Gorda’s Pizza Hut was met with a “We’re sorry, but this restaurant is permanently closed” message.

The exact same message greeted callers phoning into Englewood.

Not all stores have closed. Locations in North Port, Sarasota and Port Charlotte were open and taking orders.

Baker said the economy and nationwide news about Pizza Huts struggles made it so it didn’t surprise her that they closed one store in Venice.

“I was shocked they closed both stores,” she said. “Venice is a good community.”

Venice Denny’s

Disappointment for all those snowbirds and residents who enjoyed eating Grand Slams, skillets, burgers and more in America’s Diner: the Venice Denny’s has closed.

The restaurant, at 1763 S. Tamiami Trail, no longer has any Denny’s signs, is permanently closed and has real estate signs offering the property for sale, lease or redevelopment.

It is the second time a Denny’s family restaurant in Venice has closed.

In 2008, a location in Jacaranda Plaza closed following the Great Recession.

Subsequently the property was gutted in August 2011 for the Bonefish restaurant.

This latest Denny’s opened on Dec. 14, 2009 at the former Mel’s Diner location, which was gutted and refurbished at a cost exceeding $300,000. It created employment for 100 local people, served 150 diners and opened 24 hours.

Following the current COVID-19 pandemic, the hours were reduced.

Inquiries relating to the closure were made to the owners, RREMC restaurants, without response.


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