Two large trucks stood beside Romano’s Macaroni Grill at 1035 International Drive on Wednesday morning as people moved fixtures and other restaurant items from the building. The eatery’s signage was already down.
Only yesterday did the Italian concept restaurant notify its landlord, Mayfaire Town Center, that it was closing, said Sue Rice, Mayfaire’s director of operations. There are reports that it told its employees of the closure yesterday as well.
“Their lease is up next week,” Rice said, noting that the Macaroni Grill had been at the location for 10 years. “The company is closing many locations nationwide. Unfortunately, Mayfaire is one of those locations."
In late December, Macaroni Grill parent company suddenly closed the restaurants in greater St. Louis, Missouri, according to media reports
from that area.
Rice appeared encouraged about the prospects for the Mayfaire location space. Within the past 24 hours, as word has spread that the 6,588-square-foot restaurant space fronting Military Cutoff Road would be available, she said Mayfaire management has heard from other restaurants.
“There is a lot of interest; we’ve gotten quite a few” phone calls and emails, Rice said. “Our outparcels are very attractive, but we’re very particular in who we put in there. We get tons and tons of inquiries [about road frontage parcels], but we’re looking for a strong concept to come in and take [Macaroni Grill’s] place. We’re excited about the opportunity to bring, hopefully, a new concept to Wilmington.”
Rice said Mayfaire has lost tenants primarily only as a result of the tenant’s corporation going under, as happened last fall with Coldwater Creek.
“This [Macaroni Grill] location performed well,” she said.
Macaroni Grill is not the only vacant restaurant space at the lifestyle shopping center.
There is 1,200 square feet of space adjacent to the new Chipotle Grill in the building that formerly housed Mama Fu’s. To the south of Macaroni Grill, the former Main Street Sports Bar with 7,500 square feet of space has been unoccupied for well over a year, Rice said. It originally was a Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill, a franchise of Darden Restaurants – the company that owns Olive Garden, Longhorn Steak House and Bahama Breeze, among other chains. When the Smokey Bones concept faltered, Darden subleased its space at Mayfaire to Main Street Sports Bar.
Macaroni Grill had a ground lease, Rice said, explaining that such leases mean the restaurant “leases just the dirt” and builds its own structure there. When the tenant moves out, it takes its equipment and other building contents, but the building ownership reverts to the landlord.