Owner says National Hills IHOP to close when lease expires

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 6:58 PM
Last updated Wednesday, July 25, 2012 1:24 PM
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The owner of a Washington Road restaurant that has served residents and tourists for almost 35 years is closing the business next year.

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Charlie Baker, 24, and Alex Mancusi, 23, of Augusta, dine.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Charlie Baker, 24, and Alex Mancusi, 23, of Augusta, dine.

Bill Downie, who also owns other IHOP restaurants on Washington Road in Evans and on Peach Orchard Road in Augusta, said he will close the National Hills IHOP at 2525 Washington Road at the end of April, after his lease expires.

He said he would like to find another location along Washington Road nearer Interstate 20, but he is not certain that will happen.

“At this point, we been looking for about six months, and we haven’t found anything,” he said.

Downie said Augusta National Golf Club informed him that it will not renew his lease and that the building will be torn down.

According to county records, the land under the IHOP was purchased in 2000 by Big Tree LLC, as part of the acquisition of the Big Tree shopping center.

Steve Ethun, a spokesman for Augusta National, said that as policy the club does not comment on its business dealings or plans for the future use of its property.

Downie said he would prefer to find an existing restaurant that has closed and convert that into an IHOP rather than start from scratch.

He said new construction is too expensive in this economy.

“The problem is that IHOP won’t let me build small stores anymore,” he said.

He said the National Hills restaurant is an older style A-frame store, which seats about 90 customers.

The Peach Orchard Road restaurant, which he built in 2010, cost more than $3 million to construct and seats 180 people, which is great for large events, but not for everyday business, Downie said.

“On the weekend that restaurant is half-full,” he said.

Downie hopes that after the National Hills location closes many of his customers will seek out his other two restaurants.

In the meantime, he will be scouting for possible locations. He said that if a new address isn’t found, he doesn’t expect any of his National Hills employees to lose their livelihoods.

“I’m sure I’ll be able to move over my employees to the other two stores,” he said.

Comments (12) Add comment
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museofsatie
586
Points
museofsatie 07/24/12 - 10:45 pm
2
1
I worked at this IHOP several

I worked at this IHOP several years back. I didn't care for how it was run, but I still went there to eat long after I stopped working there; it's not the best food ever, but it was usually pretty enjoyable. I'm always sad to see an "oldie" from my childhood go, but I'm glad that no one is really getting completely screwed over by this decision.

triscuit
3180
Points
triscuit 07/24/12 - 11:05 pm
4
0
The old Famous Dave's had

The old Famous Dave's had been vacant a long time. That would have been a great place. But I hear that it is now getting remodeled for a new restaurant. I was not a big fan of IHOP but hate to see a business leave our area.
And the Augusta National just keeps on rollin'...

Riverman1
87585
Points
Riverman1 07/25/12 - 05:31 am
2
1
He paid $3 million to

He paid $3 million to construct his IHOP on Peach Orchard. I think if I were investing millions I'd find an easier business to run.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 07/25/12 - 07:01 am
0
1
I ate at the one on Peach
Unpublished

I ate at the one on Peach Orchard Saturday evening. Took us about an hour to get in, get our food ordered and out of there. They weren't busy while being there either. Two waitresses were arguing as well. Our waitress hadn't gotten the drinks for a couple at the table next to us and that couple stopped another waitress and asked her to get their drinks- then the original waitress got on to her... even though she failed to take care of her table. The 2nd waitress should have been praised for helping out.

Jeepster2001
268
Points
Jeepster2001 07/25/12 - 08:23 am
1
0
Not That Bad in Evans
Unpublished

My wife and I have been there several times over the past month, and our service @ Evans has been good. Got our order right, food was hot, drinks were topped off. Guess we must going @ different times.

JRC2024
9439
Points
JRC2024 07/25/12 - 08:46 am
2
1
I like their bacon, eggs and

I like their bacon, eggs and pancakes.

allhans
24148
Points
allhans 07/25/12 - 08:49 am
1
1
Lots of memories, and the

Lots of memories, and the restaurant seems to still has a good business.

Fiat_Lux
15992
Points
Fiat_Lux 07/25/12 - 09:14 am
2
0
Bummer

Another option disappearing. I hope he finds a place and can possibly upgrade the service and prep quality. I see that the Polka Dot Pig has closed, so perhaps Surrey Center would be a good place to step up their game.

avidreader
3392
Points
avidreader 07/25/12 - 09:48 am
1
0
Sad!

I hope a new location opens near the present site. My sons are grown now, but from the time they were toddlers until their late teens, IHOP was our place to go when they needed some special daddy-time.

LLArms
470
Points
LLArms 07/25/12 - 10:01 am
1
3
"How long before the ANGC

"How long before the ANGC tries to close Washington road and Berckman road off to through traffic?"

In all seriousness a business is free to do what it feels is in the best interest of their property. Its not like they stole anything out from this IHOP. Lets be grown ups here and realize if you owned the land under that store you would expect as the owner to be able to do as you see fit. Use logic, not emotion when considering these subjects.

kiwiinamerica
950
Points
kiwiinamerica 07/25/12 - 11:55 am
0
0
Wrong headline!
Unpublished

C'mon guys, get with it!

This is the correct headline for this story: "Augusta National Golf Club Plans to Destroy Iconic Augusta Restaurant"

Subheader: "Poor Folks' Eatery to be Leveled"!

There.......that's better!

curly123053
4996
Points
curly123053 07/25/12 - 12:49 pm
1
0
IHOP Blues.....

I remember eating at this IHOP as a kid before any other IHOPS were in the area. It's to bad that new IHOP on Bobby Jones is only half full on weekends. Everytime I go to the Aiken IHOP it's almost full or you have to wait on a table.

southernguy08
499
Points
southernguy08 07/25/12 - 01:45 pm
0
0
Good luck, Mr. Downie
Unpublished

Mr. Downie, I have enjoyed your restaurant many times. But, with this economy and no reason to think things will improve soon, I really can't blame you for closing. Good luck, sir.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 07/25/12 - 03:27 pm
1
0
Bobby Jones IHOP? really?

Bobby Jones IHOP? really?

CobaltGeorge
166014
Points
CobaltGeorge 07/25/12 - 05:19 pm
1
0
curly123053

"It's to bad that new IHOP on Bobby Jones is only half full on weekends. Everytime I go to the Aiken IHOP it's almost full or you have to wait on a table."

What do you think is the reason for that?

Jake
33025
Points
Jake 07/25/12 - 05:36 pm
1
0
Last night

I made a post last night about IHOP and it seemed to have disappeared. The gist of it was when I went to IHOP in Augusta about 35yrs ago and ordered a side of grits it was Quaker Oats instant grits. Now if a restaurant in the deep south cannot have decent grits available then they should be out of business.

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