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TGI Friday's in Holladay closes


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HOLLADAY -- A T.G.I. Friday's restaurant that holds a lot of memories for customers closed its doors Saturday night. Owners of the restaurant at 4805 Highland Drive in Holladay say it isn't making enough money anymore.

Several years ago sales were booming. But with the recession and the stall of the new Cottonwood Mall project, business has dried up, forcing the owners to close the restaurant and move elsewhere.

It was the first T.G.I. Friday's to be built in Utah. The last night of service was busy, like it used to be, with people coming to say good-bye. It was the last time Reba Reiser and her husband will dine at the restaurant.

"We first started dating here. It's one of the first places he took me because he had points for free appetizers," Reba said.

That was 20 years ago, when the restaurant opened.

Another customer, Marty Mankins, said, "It's a chain but it has character. The food is good, service great. It's always been a great place to come for dinner, drinks, everything."

And customer Bob Brighton said, "We're sorry to see it go. We just live up here."

Brighton helped build the restaurant two decades ago. Saturday he said good-bye. In the past years, sales have declined 50 percent, according to restaurant manager Trent Okelberry. But still, he says many diners are sad to see the establishment closing.

"We have lots of regulars. It's a local restaurant. A lot of them have been calling, sad to see it go for the neighborhood," he said.

Sales starting slipping at this T.G.I. Friday's when the Cottonwood Mall closed. Okelberry said, "That kind of changed all the dynamics."

In July 2007, the proposal of a multi-million dollar mall sounded great for neighboring businesses. Shops, restaurants, condos, offices, and more were to be built.

In May, city officials broke ground. Then last July, Holladay's City Council approved a deal with developers General Growth Properties. But now, General Growth Properties doesn't have enough funding or interest.

Dave Mason, owner of a business called Relax the Back, said, "I hate to see that empty space."

Mason used to pull in $15,000 on weekends; now it's only $5,000.

"The fact is, without the Cottonwood Mall, it poses a problem. It's a feeder business to all these shops and all the businesses feed off of each other," he explained.

Zac Dewaal, manager of the Training Table restaurant said, "I'm worried about our company. I would think we would go out sooner or later."

Dewaal remembers busier days.

"It's been really slow here. I've been here three years. Before, it would be busy on the weekends. Now it's been slow," he said.

The owners of the T.G.I. Friday's that is closing will open a new branch of the restaurant at Valley Fair Mall. That restaurant will open in August.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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