PRINCE GEORGE — Diners will not be able to enjoy All-American food at Shoney’s in Prince George much longer. The iconic restaurant located in The Crossings shopping center will soon close its doors.
“How many restaurants can say they have a whopping 75 years of experience? At Shoney’s, we are proud to have been serving you since 1947 and are looking forward to continuing to serve delicious food and friendly service for years to come,” @ShoneysHopewell recently posted on Facebook.
“Congrats on 75 years but, as for the many more, sadly this isn’t correct since they will be closing,” Gayle Williams of Hopewell commented. “I have had many good meals and fun get-togethers there. Sure will miss them.”
A Progress-Index subscriber reached out to me to find out if what she had heard was indeed true. She described herself as a ‘hangry’ local and hoped it was just a false rumor.
According to Shoney’s North America’s website, there are 16 family-friendly Shoney’s restaurants in the United States. I contacted the Shoney’s of Richmond franchise and spoke with Tom Edenstrom, Division Director.
“I’ve been around forever. I started at the Petersburg Shoney’s 50 years ago. It’s been long gone since right around 2000,” Edenstrom said. “The very first store I managed was in Cavalier Square in Hopewell. I’ve been with them my whole life, so it’s sad for me too.”
According to my co-worker Bill Atkinson, a Petersburg native, the Petersburg Shoney’s was located at 2535 South Crater Road, a former Carvana location.
In 1969, Shoney’s opened in Hopewell at 1410 Cavalier Square. In 1996, the restaurant moved from the Cavalier Square shopping center to The Crossings shopping center in Prince George.
“Before K & L Barbecue took over the Shoney’s space, a “Big Boy” statue once stood there. Now, there’s a big pig,” Hopewell native Elliot Eliades shared. “I wonder where “Big Boy” hangs out today?”
In 1977, the “Big Boy” mascot left the scene when Shoney’s cute bear representative was introduced. In 2016, after decades as a loyal mascot, the beloved bear retired to the wild.
“Our franchise agreement with Shoney’s Inc. expires January 19, and we’ve chosen not to re-up it. We’re going to close it down. We don’t do a lot of night business, so we’re just going from seven to three,” Edenstrom said. “We’ve started to place employees at Captain D’s, a sister company of ours. We’re trying to keep everybody employed and work things through and wind it down.”
I stopped by to interview Shoney’s diners. Three individuals were unaware that one of their dining spots will be hanging up their aprons for good.
“I’m sorry to hear that it’s closing,” Marlon Browder of Dinwiddie said. “I’ll miss their breakfast buffet.”
Before they grabbed a bite to eat, Atiya McCray of Hopewell and Quincy Moore of Petersburg chatted with me. They both have loved Shoney’s for a long time.
“Oh, no! I didn’t know they were closing down,” McCray said. “I better get me some greens for Thanksgiving before they close.” She gave a shout-out to the late Miss Gloria, “She prepared the best breakfast.”
“I used to eat at the Petersburg Shoney’s on Crater Road every morning before high school. It helped me make it through the day,” Moore said. “I couldn’t eat those hockey puck biscuits at school.”
A group of four friends, well aware of the restaurant closing soon, treated themselves to a favorite Shoney’s menu item. “We just came to get a hot fudge cake for the last time,” said Chris Amaral of Prince George.
My ‘hangry’ informant expressed a mouthful, but she wished to remain anonymous.
“I’ll miss getting their All-American burger and fries on Memorial Day and 4th of July. No more coming in for lunch after church on Sundays. No dessert and coffee after shopping,” the ‘hangry’ fan said. “Instead of shutting down completely, why can’t they just keep limited hours for breakfast and lunch? I know the 295 exit tourists and surrounding hotel guests would appreciate it. I know we hangry locals would too.”
According to Edenstrom, Shoney’s at 5310 Oaklawn Blvd. in Prince George near Fort Lee Army Base is scheduled to close for good on Sunday, December 18.
Yoti Jabri, Prince George County’s Economic Development Director, said. “On November 10, Mod Wash Carwash submitted a special exception application.” According to Jabri, the property at 5310 Oaklawn Blvd. is zoned for business.
The Shoney’s in Prince George will be open on Thanksgiving from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., however, the buffet will be its usual buffet, not a Thanksgiving feast as in the past. The Shoney’s at 9963 Hull Street Rd. in Richmond will serve its traditional Thanksgiving buffet from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“We’re going to miss Shoney’s,” Becky McDonough, CEO of Hopewell/Prince George Chamber, said. “It’s a great place to eat and meet.”
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— Kristi K. Higgins aka The Social Butterfly columnist is the trending topics and food Q&A reporter at The Progress-Index. Have a news tip on local trends or businesses? Contact Kristi (she, her) at [email protected], follow @KHiggins_PI on Twitter @socialbutterflykristi on Instagram.