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Sharon Caskey Hayes • Oct 15, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Cootie Brown's in East Stone Commons will close its doors Oct. 19. Erica Yoon photo.


KINGSPORT — After more than two years in operation in Kingsport, Cootie Brown’s is closing its East Stone Commons location this weekend. But the owners won’t say why.

“During our two-year tenure operating Cootie Brown’s in Kingsport, we have developed many loyal and valued customers,” Tony and Christina Vella said in an e-mailed release.

“In an effort to keep you informed, we are announcing that our present Kingsport location of Cootie Brown’s at East Stone Commons will be closing Oct. 19.”

The Vellas opened the restaurant in February 2006 after successfully operating the first Cootie Brown’s in Johnson City for years. The new 7,000-square-foot building was designed by the Vellas, who did much of the interior work featuring fun and unique touches.

Several months after opening the Kingsport restaurant, the Vellas said they were hoping to take the concept of Cootie Brown’s to other markets, and that developers had contacted them about establishing locations elsewhere.

On Wednesday, the Vellas indicated they still want to operate the restaurant in Kingsport and hope to reopen in a new location soon.

“We have served the dining needs of the Kingsport area with a passion for quality the past two years and will extend this tradition once we have finally decided on a new location,” the Vellas said.

The restaurant’s impending closure has sparked rumors in the community in recent days. One rumor suggested that the building’s rent had doubled. Another rumor suggested that a lawsuit had been filed.

On Wednesday, Christina Vella said the rent did not double, and she said there is no lawsuit involved.

“I’m sorry, but I cannot release more information than I already gave you. Except that we are extremely heartbroken that we are leaving that location,” Christina Vella said. “We are hopeful that we can find a new home in Kingsport soon.”

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