Huge blow for Sizzler restaurant chain
Yet another much loved Sizzler restaurant is set to serve its last piece of cheese toast after it was revealed the Rockhampton branch was set to close on March 2.
The eatery is located within the Stockland Shopping Centre and is being shut down due to redevelopment plans for the mall.
However, parent company Collins Foods Limited has confirmed it will not reopen once the renovations are completed.
"Collins Foods Limited has confirmed it will close its Rockhampton Sizzler restaurant with the closure coinciding with the redevelopment of the Stockland shopping centre," a spokesman told news.com.au.
"Sizzler Rockhampton will trade as usual until its last day, Sunday March 1, 2020.
"The announcement relates to Sizzler Rockhampton only and all other Sizzler restaurants remain open for business."
The spokesman said Collins was working with the affected managers and team members at Sizzler Rockhampton - believed to number around 61 - regarding "possible employment opportunities at other Collins foods restaurants, and outplacement support as needed".
"We want to thank our employees for their dedication, and our guests for their loyalty, over the last 31 years," the spokesman said.
"The staff and management of Sizzler Rockhampton have been fantastic, making sure every dining experience was a great one for our amazing customers."
According to documents dicovered by The Morning Bulletin, the Rockhampton Sizzler building is set to be demolished, with an application approved by Rockhampton Regional Council last week.
After the Rockhampton outlet closes, just nine Sizzler restaurants will remain in Australia, including Caboolture, Loganholme, Maroochydore, Mermaid Beach and Toowoomba in Queensland, Campbelltown in NSW and Innaloo, Kelmscott and Morley in Western Australia.
But it seems locals aren't giving up without a fight.
Local woman Rachel Titmarsh launched a Chang.org petition to save the Rockhampton Sizzler, and after just one week it has attracted 1255 signatures.
"As many of us Rockhampton people have found out today, after 31 years trading here, Sizzler will no longer be in Rockhampton from the 2nd of March," Ms Titmarsh wrote.
"Stockland Rockhampton have decided they're 'redeveloping' (not that they really need to with all the empty shops that are already there) and Sizzler is OUT.
"This is a desperate plea to Collins Foods Limited, PLEASE don't leave Rockhampton, please open somewhere else if Stockland are kicking you out."
It has received an outpouring of passionate pleas from other Sizzler aficionados, with one woman writing: "I love Sizzler and I firmly believe that closing the restaurant is detrimental to the workers and Rockhampton region. Sizzler is a local icon as is their Cheese toast and Malibu chicken."
"As a family we have always gone to sizzler for special occasions," another local posted, while another said: "It is the only reason we visit Rockhampton. Been going to Sizzler for years. The only place that caters for everyone's taste."
The latest closure comes after a string of other shutdowns in recent years.
In July 2017 a Sizzler outlet in Annerley in Brisbane's south also closed, with restaurants in Brookside, Toowong and Kogarah all closing that same year.
The company told news.com.au at the time that while it had closed a "small number" of stores in 2017 as leases ran out, "each closure was based on an independent assessment of that restaurant's performance and the ongoing suitability of the location."
The first ever Sizzler restaurant was opened in California in 1958 by restaurateurs Del and Helen Johnson, who had read an article about a radical new "self service budget steakhouse" restaurant model.
At the time the menu contained just steak, salad and dinner rolls but later expanded into hamburgers by the early 1960s, when the restaurant grew into a Los Angeles chain.
In the 1970s the concept evolved and the company continued to expand, and it launched in Australia in 1984, with Sizzler owner and Australian listed company Collins Foods International converting Bonanza and Taco Den restaurants into Sizzlers.
It soon became an Aussie family favourite, and went on to expand into the Asian market with branches now found in the US, Australia, Thailand, Japan and China.