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Red Lobster and Boscov’s closing temporarily

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK The Red Lobster restaurant in St. Clairsville is now closed. The eatery offered carryout and delivery service for a few days after dine-in service was banned last week, but the off-site dining business was not enough to offset the losses the chain was experiencing.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — As the coronavirus continues to spread across the Ohio Valley and the nation, two local businesses are closing their doors temporarily.

The Red Lobster restaurant at the Ohio Valley Plaza in St. Clairsville and the Boscov’s department store at the Ohio Valley Mall are now closed. That restaurant location is one of many in the company impacted by the loss of dine-in business as governors across the country have ordered eateries to serve customers via carryout and delivery service only, according to information from parent company Golden Gate Capital.

In addition to the St. Clairsville restaurant, Red Lobster locations in Washington and Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and in Zanesville and New Philadelphia, Ohio, are now closed. The same is true of West Virginia Red Lobster restaurants in Parkersburg, Charleston, Morgantown and Huntington.

Red Lobster CEO Kim Lopdrup said the current crisis is the biggest challenge the seafood chain has faced in more than half a century.

“This is without question the most challenging time Red Lobster has faced in our 52 years of operation. Like other full-service restaurants, we had to close most of our dining rooms over the past week and offer off-premise sales only,” Lopdrup wrote in a statement provided by spokeswoman Nicole Bott. “While we’ve grown our off-premise sales very substantially by offering free delivery and touchless service options, that has not been nearly enough to offset the loss of dine-in sales.

“As the COVID-19 crisis continues, we have made the incredibly difficult decision to temporarily close some of our restaurants,” she continued. “We understand the impact this situation has on our guests as well as our employees’ ability to work and our ability to be a great employer. These decisions have not been taken lightly and are extremely painful, but they are necessary to ensure we survive this crisis and are around to re-open our doors once it passes.”

On its website, Red Lobster cites federal, state and local mandates for quarantines and bans or limits on in-restaurant dining as a reason for closing locations in multiple states. Many of the restaurants remain open for off-premise dining only, offering take-out, delivery and curbside pickup, where available. None of those locations is in the local area.

“We know you choose Red Lobster to celebrate both major events and everyday moments,” the site states. “We look forward to serving you again inside our restaurants soon.”

Meanwhile, Boscov’s chairman and CEO Jim Boscov issued a letter to customers from the company headquarters in Reading, Pennsylvania, announcing that all of his company’s stores and offices are closed.

“For everyone’s safety, we’ve temporarily closed all stores and offices. Throughout this crisis, our first priority has always been the health and safety of our coworkers, customers and our communities,” he wrote. “We have been guided by the recommendations of the CDC as well as other medical and governmental authorities. We’ve closed all 49 stores, distribution centers and offices because we believe it is the most effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19. We urge all businesses and individuals to follow the best advice of the medical community and be part of the solution.”

Terming the pandemic an “unprecedented crisis,” he noted, “Our hearts go out to all of those being impacted.”

He added that the stores eventually will reopen.

“I promise that when we reopen our doors, customers will find the same incredible service, selection and pricing that Boscov’s is known for.”

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