Fuddruckers closes on Hilton Head after 28 years

tbarton@islandpacket.comNovember 13, 2012 

A long-time Hilton Head Island restaurant, the Fuddrucker's at Shelter Cove Plaza, has closed.

JAY KARR, STAFF PHOTO

A Hilton Head Island burger joint has called it quits after 28 years.

Fuddruckers closed Oct. 31 after three years of struggling to keep its doors open, general manager Tide Tidwell said.

"Ever since the economic recession hit in 2009, it's like a switch was hit and the lights went out (for business) in this area," Tidwell said. "We saw an immediate drop-off in business. We knew we ... had a long road ahead of us and worked the best we could to keep it open.

"But it got to the point where finances were exhausted."

Tidwell said franchise owner, Bion Foster of Maine, reluctantly pulled the plug on the business after failed attempts to sell the building, which is now for lease.

"We weren't making any money since 2009, and the franchise agreement would have required him to put more money into the building," Tidwell said.

An attempt Monday to reach Foster was unsuccessful.

Twenty-three employees lost their jobs because of the closing, Tidwell said."Spring and fall sales were down dramatically," he said. "Summers were good. We've always lost money in the winter -- since day one. But when both winter and spring sales drop off, it makes it difficult to make a go of it from year to year with a negative cash flow."

Sitting beside The Mall at Shelter Cove, which now is nearly vacant, did not help, he said.

"There's no draw here anymore with the mall slowly dying out," Tidwell said. "We used to be packed on the weekends. The mall parking lot would be full. That's all changed."

Hilton Head Town Council approved an agreement Oct. 16, two weeks before Fuddruckers closed, with developers to redesign The Mall at Shelter Cove.

"It's too late for us, but (the town) needs to get this mall up and going ASAP," Tidwell said. "There needs to be a sense of urgency."

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