Hundreds of items — from commercial mixers to soft serve ice cream machines on wheels — are for sale after two Old Country Buffet restaurants in Duluth and Mankato abruptly closed this week.
That leaves the Burnsville restaurant, located just north of where Interstate 35 splits into 35W and 35E, as the franchise's final outpost in the state.
"To our valued guests, CLOSED," began the notice on the front door Tuesday of the Old Country Buffet at the Miller Hill Mall in Duluth. "Thank you for your business and we hope to serve you at another location very soon."
The notice signed off by directing employees to return midafternoon for "your final paycheck."
At the Old Country Buffet in Mankato, the notification was just as abrupt. Employees arrived Tuesday morning to the restaurant just south of the River Hills Mall and found the doors locked.
Both locations are now selling off not only the kit but the caboodle, too, via online auction. There's everything from restaurant signs to industrial kitchen equipment to dining room tables and chairs to crayons. Or maybe someone will be attracted to a favorite booth that would be just perfect in a kitchen nook or man cave. No shipping. Items must be picked up locally.
The chain, founded in Eagan in 1983 and for years the nation's signature all-you-can-eat dining destination, has been in a long decline. Restaurants in Maple Grove, Coon Rapids, Rochester and St. Cloud closed earlier this year.
The chain, now owned by San Antonio-based Buffets LLC, has shuttered more than 400 stores over the past eight years. It is in the midst of its third Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing since 2008 and still operates Old Country Buffets, Home Town Buffets and Ryan's restaurants in other states.