After 26 years at the Big Curve, the Applebee’s Grill and Bar has closed its doors permanently — but not due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, it’s sad but very true,” said Mandi LaRue, general manager, when reached Tuesday, the final day of business for the restaurant, which is located at 3101 S. 4th Ave., in the Big Curve Shopping Center.

LaRue said that the Applebee’s was in the middle of renegotiating the lease but that the landlord was not willing to continue with negotiations. She said that the last offer the owners made on Monday was still quadrupled what Applebee’s currently pays on rent.

She said the restaurant has until Saturday to move. The closure will leave 51 employees without work. She called it a “bad situation on top of another bad situation” due to the current pandemic.

“We want to express our appreciation for the community’s patronage the last 26 years and for sharing the perfect margarita with us. It was a very hard decision to make,” LaRue said.

But Jerry LoCoco, owner of SVN Velocity Commercial Real Estate, the leasing broker for the shopping center, said that’s not the whole story. He noted that the rent paid by Applebee’s had remained “essentially unchanged” in the 26 years that the restaurant has been in that location while neighboring tenants are paying much more.

“The owners made every effort to work with Applebee’s to help them through COVID-19 and leave the negotiations for a later date, but Applebee’s declined the offer,” LoCoco said, adding that the owners, N&V Corporation, were willing to wait for three months.

“Our offices and the ownership, our hearts and thoughts go out to all those people who have lost their jobs and those who are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. We hope and pray that we’ll have a quick return to more prosperous times,” LoCoco added.

The Applebee’s locations on 16th Street and in the Foothills are still open and offering to-go and delivery options during the pandemic.

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