Not even ESPN is safe from the economic black hole that is the restaurant business, as mighty Walt Disney Co. is set to close down all ESPN Zone restaurants not directly tied to a Disney property. Somewhere, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis are scoffing at the idea of an expensive, gimmicky restaurant chain profiting. While the exact cause of the closing is unknown, it’s safe to say it has nothing to do with the recession. Why, such a hypothesis would be preposterous, I say.
It’s unclear what has prompted Disney to close the establishments, although the bars may well be a casualty of the recession.
“Since their inception, the Zones have served sports fans very well,” said an ESPN spokesman, who declined to comment further. “But from a pure business perspective, the economics have been challenging.”
Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst for research firm NPD Group, said the restaurant business was undergoing its biggest decline in three decades.
“This year was horrible,” Balzer said. “A restaurant meal is a very discretionary behavior. You could always eat at home and save money doing it. And going out for dinner is the most expensive food you could buy.” –LATimes
I have an idea as to why they failed. Maybe it’s because mixing a sports bar atmosphere with family fun is a horrible idea. Sports bars are supposed to be seedy, smoke filled rooms where men get hammered and yell at referees in the company of their peers. They’re not exactly a place to bring your kids for a 10 dollar hamburger. Parents don’t want to bring their kids to sports bars because of all the drunken tomfoolery, and barflies don’t want to go to the ESPN Zone because they’d rather not get wasted with kids around at such exorbitant fees. Not to mention the upkeep costs, these things are huge on the inside. I’ve had the pleasure of dining at the D.C. one a couple of times. It’s a monstrosity. Santonio Holmes levels of monstrosity. Another example of large interiors after the jump.