Since March 25, posts on various social media sites have questioned why the Bob Evans at 3050 Stevenson Dr. is closed. Initially, a sign posted on the door indicated it was a temporary closure for maintenance and repairs.

While there was speculation the closure may have been the result of an inspection the week prior by the Sangamon County Health Department, officials with the Health Department have indicated that was not the case.

A sign now posted on the door reads, in part, “This restaurant has closed permanently, but we would love to have you at our nearby location,” referring customers to the restaurant at 4221 Conestoga Dr.

The Stevenson Drive location was Springfield’s first Bob Evans restaurant, which opened in 1993. A second location on the west side opened in 2000.

Even prior to COVID, the restaurant chain was struggling. The family-style restaurant based in Columbus, Ohio, closed more than 40 locations in 2016. The following year, Bob Evans Farms, the parent company of Bob Evans restaurants, announced it would sell the restaurant portion of the business to Golden Gate Capital, which also owns Red Lobster and California Pizza Kitchen.

More closures followed the $565 million sale, and in the last few years the company has focused on menu adjustments and placing more emphasis on takeout to address changes in consumers’ dining habits. There are currently around 500 locations throughout the United States, primarily in the Midwest and South.

In January 2002, Bloomberg reported Golden Gate Capital was exploring a potential sale that would value the Bob Evans chain at $600 million, but there are no indications that has come to fruition.

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