University of Maryland student Brendan Gillespy enjoyed a heaping plate of sweet Asian chili wings when he sat down for a routine Applebee’s visit in November. But when Gillespy visited the joint Sunday, the lights were out, the doors were locked and it was only 10 p.m.
A sign spotted Monday outside the College Park Applebee’s read, “THIS LOCATION IS NOW CLOSED” and urged patrons to visit its Laurel branch.
“It makes sense now,” said Gillespy, a freshman computer science major.
The Applebee’s closure is one of many recent business closures in the area. Several Route 1 establishments — including Slices, Pizza Mart, Kapnos Taverna and Rugged Wearhouse — have shut their doors in recent months, amid rising rent.
Freshman psychology major Lauren Zanders was “devastated” to hear about Applebee’s closure. While Zanders had yet to visit the restaurant’s Route 1 location, she used to frequent the one near her home in Verona, New Jersey.
“I really wanted to go, and now I can’t,” Zanders said.
In the summer of 2017, the Applebee’s branch cancelled Thursday Karaoke nights, angering many students who participated in the weekly event. The previous summer, the restaurant also closed for a day to deal with mice.
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Mignon Kim, a senior accounting and information systems major, is a member of the Pi Sigma Epsilon business fraternity. She recalled going to Applebee’s with her fraternity family for happy hour “once every few weeks.”
“[We] were supposed to go for one of our graduations,” she said. “But I guess we can’t do that now.”
Ali Schwartz, a sophomore early education major, went to Applebee’s for dinner once and enjoyed the experience. Still, she said she was “not surprised” the restaurant shuttered, and thought it would close sooner.
“It’s kind of out of the way, so people don’t go very often,” she said.
Monday’s closure comes during a time of increased economic development as officials aim for the city to become a Top 20 college town by 2020. In November, Capital One opened a technology accelerator focused on technology and science research, and this month, WeWork is expected to open a shared workspace on Diamondback Drive.
Caleb Finesurrey, an education graduate student, said he’s disappointed by the closure. He thinks College Park is looking for “more attractive” businesses with a “better name.”
“Everybody always says such negative things about Applebee’s,” Finesurrey said. “I’m not saying it’s all that, but it’s a fine meal, they have drinks. It’s a nice environment.”
College Park’s economic development coordinator, Ryan Chelton, could not be reached for comment.
This story has been updated.
Staff writers Angela Roberts, Aaron Feldstein and Grace Mottley contributed to this report.