KINGSPORT — It opened twice, and now it’s closed twice.
Damon’s restaurant on Stewball Circle off John B. Dennis Highway shut its doors last Monday, and property owner Stewart Taylor said he’s put the building and equipment on the market.
“Business was too slow. They just couldn’t make it,” Taylor said.
The restaurant initially opened in December 2001, but it closed in 2005 after then-owner Calvin Wright — a long-time restaurateur who also owned Wright’s Country Cuisine — filed bankruptcy.
A year later, Eastern Carolinas Management Inc., a Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based firm that operates several Damon’s franchises, leased the building and reopened Damon’s with Wright as the general manager.
Taylor said the restaurant just didn’t seem to be a good fit for the location.
Plus, high gas prices didn’t help, Taylor said.
“Nationwide, restaurants are having it tougher now because a lot of people do not have extra money to go out to eat. All these restaurants are having difficulty because it takes out of each person’s pocket $20 or $30 extra a week that they could have used to eat out,” Taylor said.
Taylor has listed the Damon’s property, which includes 3.3 acres of land and restaurant equipment, for sale or lease with TCI Group. He said the building would be ideal for a destination restaurant or another destination business.
Taylor suggested the restaurant would have fared better if more development had followed in the area as was expected. Damon’s initially opened when the city was preparing to build a new road in the vicinity to make way for development, including a new shopping center called Meadowview Pointe.
Neither the road nor the shopping center was constructed.
“When we first built the Damon’s, we were expecting that new road from Kingsport to be built and that shopping center to go in, and those things just didn’t occur,” said Taylor. “Maybe they’ll build it in the future. I wish that Kingsport would go ahead and build that road system because I think it would develop a lot of land through that area and make growth happen.”
A hotel and Pizza Hut are also located along Stewball Circle, and a McDonald’s and gas station operate nearby along John B. Dennis Highway. Another restaurant — Up The Creek — closed its doors on Stewball Circle several years ago.