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Spaghetti Warehouse suspends operations in OKC

After thirty years of serving Oklahomans, Bricktown’s oldest restaurant closed its door last Tuesday.

Spaghetti Warehouse first opened in 1972 in the old warehouse district of downtown Dallas. Renowned for its 15-layer lasagna and its world-famous meatballs, the Spaghetti Warehouse chain grew to more than 15 restaurants in seven states.

According to NewsOK, founder Robert Hawk bought the former Awalt Furniture building for $300,000 in 1979 and spent another $300,000 giving it a vintage look and transforming it into the warehouse. When the restaurant finally opened in 1989 there were 1,800 Oklahoma residents lined up outside at the doors.

David Ayers, the company’s spokesman, said to NewsOK it was a difficult business decision to suspend operations.

“I was surprised it happened so fast,” Adyson Wessel, a student at Oklahoma Christian University said. “I thought companies gave more of a heads up. I just hope they told their employees earlier.”

Wessel heard about the news the day before the restaurant closed, just like the employees at the restaurant, according to News9.

“They didn’t tell us,” Saundra Mericle an employee who learned Monday morning she was losing her job, said to News9. “They expect loyalty from their staff but none in return.We all have families and responsibilities. We have to go now explain to our families that we lost our jobs. Are we going to be able to pay our rent? Are we going to be able to feed our kids?”

While the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) requires larger employers to give employees notice 60 days before an impending plant closing or mass layoff, Oklahoma businesses are not governed by other layoff laws and WARN only applies to employees with 100 or more employees, according to Nolo.

Restaurants in Texas, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Ohio, New York, Florida and Tulsa will remain open, as the problem was specifically in Oklahoma City, according to Tulsa World.

John Allgood, a former president of the Bricktown Association, said to News 9 the restaurant had been a staple in Brickown for a long time.

“To me, the Spaghetti Warehouse was one of the oldest buildings in Bricktown,” Wessel said. “To the locals, it was a piece of history. I had never been to the one here but I went to one back in Texas.”

The closing of the Spaghetti Warehouse may draw renewed interest in one of the biggest, most prominent, buildings in Bricktown, according to NewsOK.

Addressing the locals’ inquiries on the future of a Spaghetti Warehouse in the city, Ayers said as they continue to work on a new look for their brand, they are hopeful that in the near future they can reopen the Spaghetti Warehouse in the Oklahoma City market.

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