2020 has been a miserable year for Charlie Brown restaurants in New Jersey.
Spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, 13 Charlie Brown Fresh Grills have closed statewide this year. Only one restaurant remains, in Union County.
Charlie Brown’s, a casual steakhouse chain that at one time enjoyed dozens of eateries across New Jersey and the East Coast, is now down to just one spot in Scotch Plains.
At the start of 2020, there were 14 Charlie Brown’s restaurants in the Garden State.
After Charlie Brown closed its Lakewood spot, the last one left is at 2376 North Ave. in Scotch Plains.
A company spokesman told NJ Advance Media that the COVID-19 pandemic was the primary cause of the abrupt closures.
“New Jersey was shut down longer than any state in the U.S., then only reopening at 25% capacity for indoor dining is not enough as we lost outdoor dining with winter,” the spokesman said. “So, many people think that full-service restaurants can make it on take-out and third-party, but that is not the case.”
The Scotch Plains location was one of three to reopen following COVID-19 shutdowns in mid-March. The other two — in Edison and Lakewood — were the most recent to close after short-lived re-openings.
Before the coronavirus arrived in March, Charlie Brown’s also had locations in Chatham, Denville, East Windsor, Forked River, Oradell, Toms River, Washington Township, Wayne, Westampton and Woodbury, along with one in New York, according to its website.
Prior to the pandemic, several Charlie Brown locations had closed --- in Old Tappan in January and in Millburn in 2018, a restaurant that had thrived for 39 years.
Originally known as Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse, the first location opened in Westfield in 1966.
Charlie Brown's, savored for its wide selection of steaks and plentiful salad bar, has been sliding ever since its bankruptcy filing in 2010 when the chain had 49 locations.
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