7 Old Country Buffet restaurants close down in Twin Cities

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Seven Old Country Buffet restaurants in the Twin Cities closed suddenly on Thursday, as part of a nationwide cull by its parent company.

WCCO reports the metro area locations affected by the abrupt closures include those in Crystal, Richfield, Fridley, Maplewood, Roseville, Woodbury, and West St. Paul.

Parent company Ovation Brands said the company was attempting to stabilize after being acquired last summer by Food Management Partners, and told the TV station "we strongly believe that this direction is best for the long-term health of all brands."

The Business Journal reports it leaves just three of the buffet restaurants still operating in the metro area, those in Maple Grove, Burnsville and Coon Rapids.

Old Country Buffet started in Minnesota in 1983, the website notes, and by 2008 had 626 locations, before it twice declared bankruptcy.

There are reports elsewhere in the country about the abrupt restaurant closures.

In Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the Berkshire Eagle reports that "bewildered" staff turned up at the restaurant on Thursday to find a sign on the front door saying it had been permanently shut down.

At this stage, it is not clear how many workers lost their jobs in Minnesota or nationwide.

In a statement from Ovation, as reported by WHNT, it said: "74 underperforming Old Country Buffet, Hometown Buffet, Ryan’s, Fire Mountain and Country Buffet restaurants throughout the United States will permanently close on February 4, 2016.

"While we cannot predict future market conditions, the plan is to continue operating the remaining Ovation Brands’ restaurants as they are financially viable.

Although the overall number of employees affected by closures is large, employees of closed restaurants will be given the opportunity to apply for positions at operating stores, and we expect many to take advantage of that opportunity."

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