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Charlie Brown's Steakhouse closes 13 N.J. restaurants

It seems more and more restaurants are closing. Business must be bad all over.I was never a fan of these restaurants but I fell badly for all of the employees who are losing their jobs.
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010...

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  1. One of the last of the places with a salad bar.

    2 Replies
      1. re: eleeper

        Only 1 diner in my area has a salad "bar" if you could call it that.

        There's still Ruby Tuesdays. :)

    1. The 13 Charlie Browns locations in New Jersey that will be closed are: Alpha, Blackwood, Clifton, Green Brook, Hackettstown, Highland Park, Hillsboro, Kingston, Matawan, Montclair, Piscataway, Tenafly and Union.

      2 Replies
      1. re: equal_Mark

        Oh good. Not the Hamilton one:) I actually like Charlie Brown's quite a bit, despite its reputation as a senior citizen mecca and it being a chain restaurant. When I'm watching what I'm eating, between the salad bar and the grilled steak/chicken choices, I can pretty much tailor my meal to what I need while my dining companions indulge. It's probably my favorite chain restaurant (out of the very few that I enjoy), now that I think about it.

        1. re: equal_Mark

          I thought the Matawan location is quite crowded the few times I had been there.

        2. Sad sad sad. Yeah it's a chain and the food is nothing to rave about, but it was the only decent place in Highland Park to grab a drink, hang out at the bar and then walk home. Also (and I can't believe I'm admitting this) they serve a slice of the best non-frou-frou chocolate cake ever. The cake to frosting ratio is perfect and the entire outside is covered in mini chocolate chips. I wish I knew where they get it from.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sleuthy

            My husband and I went to the Matawan charlie brown's on our first date almost 15 years ago! We'll have to revisit it before it closes. I still love the salad bar, and completely agree with Heatherb about their healthier choices.

          2. The food at the Union location was horrendous.

            1. The Asbury Park Press has reported that the Lacey and Tinton Falls locations have closed as well.

              http://www.app.com/article/20101117/B...

              1 Reply
              1. re: jfedorko

                They closed 9 more today, five of which are in NJ:

                The company that owns Charlie Brown’s Steakhouses quietly closed at least nine more restaurants in the tri-state area today, adding to the 20 eateries it abruptly shuttered earlier this week and stirring anger among workers and customers who say they received little or no warning.

                In the second wave of closings to hit the 40-year-old chain this week, five New Jersey restaurants were closed today in East Windsor, Eatontown, Fairfield, Forked River and Woodbridge, in addition to four locations in New York and Pennsylvania.

                The closings shrink the popular family chain to 29 locations, nearly half of what it had at the start of the week. Unlike Monday, when the company announced the first wave of closures, there was no official announcement today. However, employees who answered the phone at each of the five New Jersey locations confirmed they had closed.

                (from http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010...

                )

                -----
                Charlie Browns
                443 S Main St, Forked River, NJ 08731

              2. one of them is in my hometown, and my friends were all abuzz about it on Twitter and Facebook yesterday. the interesting thing is that someone said she went there for dinner last week, and it was so busy she had to wait 40 minutes for a table!

                4 Replies
                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  The Lakewood location on Rt 70 is always packed with people waiting outside....Hmmmmm? wonder if this will be a chain reaction affecting many of the other chain restaurants that have popped up all over?

                  1. re: Tapas52

                    Why oh WHY couldn't it be Applebees? If ever a chain deserved a rash of unexpected closings ...

                    1. re: Heatherb

                      Exactly, East Windsor location is always packed when I go there also. If CB is actually closing even with decent amount of business, how will other restaurant (chain or not) survive...This is almost unbelievable.
                      Wonder if the problems is caused by the parent company mismanaging their finances.

                      1. re: yCf

                        The decision is probably more complex than an observation that a location always seems to be packed.

                2. I always wondered why the place in Matawan is so busy. The food is so mediocre. I wish the Steak & Ale chain was sill around!

                  5 Replies
                    1. re: tommy

                      sis & I went to the Route 35 Steak & Ale location a few years (or so?) ago, and it was a nice throwback to earlier times.... the place had character !!

                      That might have been the last NJ location to close??? (it was around Middletown, NJ)

                      I also remember the one in Union, (now a Famous Dave's) ....
                      and Ramsey area....

                      1. re: ellen4441

                        All the S&As closed when Bennigan's (the parent) went belly up a few years ago. One day they were thriving, the next (literally) they were all closed.

                          1. re: ellen4441

                            Actually, S & A Restaurant Corporation originally owned and operated both Steak & Ale and Bennigan's until the 90's, when S & A Restaurant Corp, .... with both Steak & Ale and Bennigan's, were sold to Metromedia...and S & A Restaurant Corp became a subsidiary.

                            http://www.krcl.com/clientuploads/PDF...

                            http://investing.businessweek.com/res...

                            http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/sto...

                  1. Charlie Browns has filed for chapter 11 reorganization

                    -----
                    Charlie Brown's
                    11 Kettle Creek Rd, Toms River, NJ 08753

                    1. This morning I saw a sign on the Charlie Brown's building in Highland Park that said "New Restaurant Coming Soon".

                      1. Bad for the employees, but there's nothing to be missed from Charlie Brown's. Past its prime. A super-ordinary chain, unimaginative, lifeless, a glorified diner. So many better choices out there with owner-operated restaurants.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: menton1

                          I had such a mediocre burger at the Waretown/Forked River NJ location a few years back....
                          ...then , like an idiot , I went back and ended up with a too small piece of prime rib, (like they were measuring it exactly to the ounce), and not all that gr8, anyway...
                          And , then I realized that all the old timers sitting near me had coupons for a "complete prime rib dinner"....(guess I also got grouped into that category, and received the "coupon" sized portion, lol ).....
                          It sure seemed like they had to ADVERTISE real heavy, with all those COUPONS in the Sunday paper circulars ...(reminded me of a "Stuart Anderson's Black Angus", which is a chain in Southern Cal...)

                          Yes, past it's prime !!

                          nice atmosphere , tho !
                          nice salad bar, except the bread often was stale, cuz it was exposed to the "elements"....
                          yes, a "glorified diner", good choice of words, menton1....

                            1. re: equal_Mark

                              The Lakewood location is still do well ,but you can signs that the $ is not there ,no fish in the big fish tank ,limited # of booze bottles @ the bar and now some old brands not being replaced.. The intirior is dingy and needs a new rug or at least a good cleaning !
                              Is the end near ??

                              1. re: equal_Mark

                                It's not EZ finding a tomato that UGLY !! How did they manage to do that, lol ???
                                (espescially during prime time NJ tomato season ...)

                                1. re: ellen4441

                                  That's the norm at restaurants and delis rather than the exception, unfortunately.

                                  1. re: tommy

                                    ^ thanks to low cost sourcing from Sysco or US FoodService versus buying from your local farmer.

                                    1. re: Foody4life

                                      And thanks to supermarkets or small markets.

                            2. The Charlie Browns Scotch Plains is still going strong, completely renovated a few years ago, the place is packed on Friday and Saturday nights and the other nights are busy also.....I stopped in for a drink recently on a Tuesday, and the rooms were almost full.

                              -----
                              Charlie Browns
                              443 S Main St, Forked River, NJ 08731

                              28 Replies
                              1. re: LEOFONT

                                "The Charlie Browns Scotch Plains is still going strong"

                                I'm glad to read your post. I think low cost chains meet a real need for affordable dining. Those of us still fortunate to be able to dine in pricier establishments should be sensitive to the many who have suffered a drastic downward change of lifestyle. I think it's great that people, espicially the senior population, can still enjoy the pleasure of an affordable meal out, be it an Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesdays, or any other value priced restaurant. I'm sure Charlie Browns will be missed more for it's affordability than for it's food.

                                -----
                                Olive Garden
                                83 Weston Ct, Wayne, NJ 07470

                                Charlie Browns
                                443 S Main St, Forked River, NJ 08731

                                1. re: Tay

                                  Well, an add-on to that is that, unlike with many other low-cost chains, it is very easy to eat healthy at Charlie Brown's. Whenever I have been on a diet, that has been my go-to restaurant when people want to go out to dinner on the cheap. It's one of the few places where my diabetic mother knows she will be able to choose from an array of reasonably healthy foods. Yes, they have their greasy bomb dishes, but it's just as easy to eat healthy there.

                                  1. re: Tay

                                    "The Charlie Browns Scotch Plains is still going strong"

                                    So was the Tinton Falls location right up until the day it closed. There were lines for dinner pretty much every day. Not sure that the patronage or lack thereof was the ultimate cause of the shutdowns...

                                    1. re: Tay

                                      Why do you need a low cost chain? Why not a low-cost owner-operated restaurant? Like the ones on DDD? Plenty of owner-run places today, and they need your patronage!

                                      1. re: menton1

                                        A low-cost owner-operated steakhouse??? Please, do tell!!

                                        1. re: jfedorko

                                          ok, here we go !! I'm telling ! Well, it IS owner operated, even tho it's a franchise..
                                          It IS the GOLDEN CORRAL ! (buffet)
                                          REAL GOOD charbroiled steaks right off the charbroiler grill ...!
                                          $10.79 for dinner, plus $1.99 for beverage...
                                          new location just opened 3 weeks ago in my Atlantic City area...
                                          1 mile away from my condo...Egg Harbor Township, NJ

                                          hectic atmosphere, but real decent..

                                          1. re: jfedorko

                                            Sure, a great steakhouse serving aged steak isn't cheap. But a steak comparable to the crap they use at CB's is easy to find at a family-run joint.

                                            1. re: menton1

                                              one sever @ CB Lakewood has the brass to say that there filet mignon is the same served @ Ruth's Chris . are they kidding ... There are NO good steakhouses in Ocean county and Long Horn is the only hope for a good piece of meat ..!

                                              1. re: big1515

                                                What makes you think it wasn't the same grade and even from the same supplier?

                                                  1. re: big1515

                                                    How was the taste different? If it's a matter of seasoning and cooking process, which I can totally see, I don't think one can make any determinations as to the beef's source.

                                                    Price wouldn't be an indicator, either.

                                                      1. re: big1515

                                                        I'm not sure I follow. Can you explain?

                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                          Peter Luger is the # one Porterhouse steak house in the USA . The reason they are # one is ( Price (for the best aged beef ), Taste and Quality ) They all go together ...

                                                          1. re: big1515

                                                            Luger is # one because it is expensive? LOL. Sounds like you're conflating price with "quality," which I'm sure plenty of restaurants would appreciate.

                                                            But this is all a red herring, since we were discussing tenderloin, which of course is different than porterhouse.

                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                              Capital Grille costs a bit more than Luger's, but there's no comparison as to quality...

                                                              1. re: menton1

                                                                Well if Capital Grille is more expensive than Luger, it has to be better.

                                                                And since it spells "grill" with an "e" it must be fancy.

                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                  Of course. And then there's that place in Ft Lee (Prime & Beyond?) that charges by the pound, so a Luger-type steak there is about $65. That has to be the best!

                                                                  BTW, "grille" in French (I suppose that's why they spell it that way?) is pronounced "GREE" and means "railing". Hmmm...

                                                                  1. re: tommy

                                                                    Do you remember several years ago a guy was going around painting over the extraneous e's at the end of words? Things like shoppe, grille, etc. I think it might have been in No. Virginia.

                                              2. re: jfedorko

                                                I dine at CBs a few times a year & I can't remember the last time I've had a bad meal there. For dinner, I always have the prime rib which is tender and tasty without fail. I prepare rib roast several times a year and take the trouble to age the roast so I'm particular when it comes to rib roast. My only carp is that their "rare" is closer to medium-rare which is quite common in restaurants. When Ellen4441 complains about the rib roast, I'm thinking she must have the worst luck in the world. And if she got the small cut, perhaps she didn't specify the queen or cowboy cut when she ordered.

                                                The salad is bar has great variety & good quality. Last summer, they served lobster rolls & lobster melt sandwiches at lunch which were very good at more than reasonable prices.

                                                I haven't been there since the bankruptcy filing so maybe food quality has changed. And maybe I've just ordered the right things - all restaurants do some things better than others. If an older crowd bothers you, don't go.

                                                And Tommy is probably right - the filet mignon at Ruth Chris is not prime. Check their menu on-line if you don't believe. Doesn't say prime like all the other cuts so most likely choice - same as CB.

                                                As for chains vs local - I generally prefer local (CB is pretty much an exception) but don't forget that locals work at chains.

                                                1. re: Zestme

                                                  I hear ya, Zestme, my luck was probably bad that night, regarding that small cut of prime rib ..(and normally, I don't order the smallest cut on the menu; guess I should've kept up with my policy, lol )

                                                  Did'nt mean to sound harsh about the older crowd ; guess I got resentful they were so heavily "couponed", lol, getting everything from soup to nuts for the same price I paid for just my meat & salad bar...
                                                  and meanwhile, I was'nt prepared ....(no coupons)...

                                                  And , yes, you're right, Ruth Chris's FILET is NOT prime ...
                                                  I've been to there a good amount of times over the years, & seem to enjoy it less about every time....
                                                  My fav. high end steak house lately is Flemings, but my nearest one is in Marlton, out by Cherry Hill ... loved the charbroiled flavor, & their onion soup was
                                                  fantastic, too ...

                                                  1. re: ellen4441

                                                    The ONLY good/real steakhouse in Mon/ ocean is Brennen's in Nepune City .

                                                    1. re: big1515

                                                      wow, I'm gonna try BRENNAN'S! never been...
                                                      are the steaks CHARBROILED ???? I like deep charbroiled, lots of grill lines, and good crust, thanks !!

                                                      I am heading up to central Jersey tomorrow, and may just make a pit stop there!

                                                      1. re: ellen4441

                                                        Their website makes no mention of the grade or aging process. I suspect these are supermarket quality steaks.

                                                        And since the prices are so low it's probably not a notable steak experience.

                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                          good points, tommy, I'm not going to rush there so quick now, lol ..
                                                          Actually, I tried making a pit stop today for an Italian Hot Dog on my way from AC area to my sis's near Freehold..
                                                          (well , I overshot Freehold, and got off at exit 117 to go to Jersey Joe's Italian Hot Dogs in Fort Monmouth ....
                                                          was there once before, and I liked it a lot, and the place, and the owner had character) ..(but no dice this time, as the "closed" sign was already up at 320 pm.... ) (supposed to be open till 4 pm today, monday, but I guess biz was slow, and he had no idea a renowned Chowhounder/Roadfood/Yelp gal was coming in , lol .....
                                                          Tomorrow, I will go to JOSE TEJAS, Woodbridge, for some real good STEAK FAJITAS... (their filet mignon version ones are amazing !!!! the "cadillac fajitas",as they call them..) (the regular steak ones are real good too ..
                                                          Well, we could almost count this as a steakhouse, lol !!!

                                                          -----
                                                          Jersey Joe's
                                                          712 Port Monmouth Rd, Port Monmouth, NJ 07758

                                                        2. re: ellen4441

                                                          Try Bennen's .The prices are right and you get what you pay for .. I know of no better In monmouth or Ocean Co..The Manhattan Steakhouse (Ocean Twp )was the best but it is gone !

                                                          -----
                                                          Manhattan Steakhouse
                                                          2105 State Route 35 Ste A, Oakhurst, NJ 07755

                                                          1. re: big1515

                                                            It seems to me that the Shipwreck in Point Pleasant Beach is serving better quality beef than Brennen's.

                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                              the web reviews on Brennan's are certainly a turnoff, for the most part..
                                                              too dark, extra slow service on a slow night, (and "just average" steaks, mentioned many times..