It appears that the Centennial Steak ‘n Shake location in Colorado is no more.
Recently, Robert Simons, a Parker resident, peered into the windows of the restaurant only to see the stacked chairs and tables and other things inside the darkened structure.
It was just eight years ago that its drive-thru lines at the state’s first Steak ‘n Shake extended to the area of South Quebec Street, with five hours waiting time.
The building sits empty, with a window sign that signs its for lease.
No Steak ‘n Shake spokespersons with Biglari Holdings in San Antonio have issued a statement about the issue. Still, it’s been noted that around 100 corporate-owned restaurants were temporarily shut down in 2018. It’s not clear if this location is one of four the company declared the place to close permanently in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
Although the area was fortunate enough to get its start in late 2011, it always seemed to have issues. For example, the Aurora family that owned the franchise claimed they were not treated fairly with Steak ‘n Shake saying the family had gone rogue.
The issue was addressed in a public court battle, with both Larry and Kathy Baerns losing their fight. The couple was forced to pay over $500,000 in judgments as well as handing in the keys to the store. They had to do the same with their Sheridan store.
In 2017, the Baernses had to file for bankruptcy with more than $3.6 million in debts that include the judgements about Steak ‘n Shake and the $2.5 million loan Thomas Caruso, the original Centennial franchise holder, had given them.
Kathy Baerns said the couple is broke, working at a time when they should be retired and leaving the business to their children. She said she’s upset they no longer have this to give them.
Steak ‘n Shake chose to run the Sheridan and Centennial locations for itself. While Centennial is closed, the location in Sheridan is still open. However, it’s not just the Centennial location that is seeing trouble, but a chain-wide effect is happening.
Since 2017, there has been a huge loss in sales, which cut into the restaurant’s profits.
According to Sardar Biglari, CEO of Biglari Holdings, the brand failed its customers by not offering fast, friendly service. Although product quality and low prices are high on their list, the kitchen design and equipment were not suitable for volume production. This has led to labor-intensive, slow service at a high cost.
Biglari shut down more than 100 stores, with Centennial being one of them. By September 2019, there was a 15 percent drop in consumer traffic, with revenues down by over $50 million.
Centennial Economic Development Department employee Stewart Meek said he understands that retail trends change nationally, which ends up affecting local economies too. He said no word has been given about what the site is going to do, but it’s typical that when one store opens, another takes its place to benefit the local area. According to Meek, nothing has been said about the restaurant being shuttered for good.