Noodles, the beloved North Madison restaurant and gathering place, will close after the last meal is served Saturday, said owner Lee Jamison.
He's hoping to sell the business to someone who will put their own spin on it, but who will also retain the family-friendly atmosphere that made it a popular destination in the North Madison shopping center, which serves as a town center in that part of town.
"No hard feelings," he said Tuesday. "Thanks to Madison for letting me live the dream for 18 years."
No one factor led to closing
He said his decision to close the eatery did not come easily, and that there was no one factor, bur rather that it was a "perfect storm" of different factors that include a rough winter with horrible weather that reduced visitors to the plaza and to the restaurant.
Jamison said the head chef, who has worked there for nine years, also decided to retire recently. The economy in general also played a role."People need to fill up their gas tank, and pay their energy bills, and pay for groceries. All that comes before going out to dinner. Right now, people don't have as much money as they used to."
But he said he hoped that would not deter potential buyers. "In 1992, when I bought it, there was also a recession. People said I was nuts. But it worked. There was a need for this kind of place and there still is."
Customers supportive, hoping someone will be willing to give it a shot
Jamison said he has been telling customers over the last week or so that he plans to close. "They have all been supportive. They're used to meeting here and they're wondering where they are going to meet. There isn't any place. That's why we're hoping someone will give this a shot."
Jamison said is optimistic that he will be able to find a buyer. "This is a turnkey operation in the true sense of the word. Stock some food and put liquor on the shelves and it's a go. Fine tune it as you're flying."
Jamison said he is not sure what he'll do next, but there is one thing he is sure about.
"I'm looking forward to having weekends off," he said with a laugh.