GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Venerable downtown Grand Rapids seafood destination Charley’s Crab is no more.
According to former employees, the 38-year-old high-end destination for special occasions along the Grand River let go the last of its employees this week.
The signage outside the restaurant at 63 Market Ave. SW south of Fulton Street has been removed. Empty tables remain inside.
Customer Joy Enoch, who said Charley’s is one of her favorite restaurants, learned of the closure Thursday when she drove in to get some soup, calling Charley’s gazpacho the best one for summer. She tried calling ahead, but the number had been disconnected.
“I come down as much as possible and wanted to see if they were open and surprise, they’re closed,”: she said. “I’ll be heartbroken. I will miss them so much.”
In addition to their famous soups and seafood, Charley’s was known for a Sunday breakfast buffet.
Charley’s Crab opened in 1982 and was initially owned by colorful restaurateur Chuck Meur, who disappeared while boating in the Bermuda Triangle in 1993.
The restaurant is now owned by Houston-based juggernaut Landry’s Inc., whose founder Tillman Fertitta owns hundreds of restaurants and casinos as well as the Houston Rockets. While Landry’s owned the restaurant, it leased the land from DeVos-owned RDV.
The employees said the coronavirus pandemic was a major factor in the shutdown, noting the venues that brought people downtown will be closed for the foreseeable future to help slow the spread of the virus.
Charley’s Crab COO Howard Cole echoed the blame on coronavirus in a Thursday statement, saying, “Due to COVID-19 and the city’s elimination of dine-in services, we have decided to enforce our lease provisions and terminate our lease. We are grateful for the support of the Grand Rapids community throughout the years.”