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Carlos O’Kelly’s closes

‘Financial drain’ shutters 2 spots

After more than 20 years in the market, Tex-Mex chain Carlos O’Kelly’s shuttered its two Fort Wayne restaurants.

The closing was effective Monday, at which time employees were notified.

“When we opened them, the leases made sense and we could operate profitably,” said Dave Phillips, director of restaurant marketing. “That’s not the case anymore.”

Citing a changing market and increase in operation costs, Phillips called the restaurants at 5735 Falls Drive and 549 Coliseum Blvd. N. a “financial drain” and said it was “pointless to renew” the leases.

The Marion, Iowa-based chain opened the first Carlos O’Kelly’s in Fort Wayne in October 1990. The group operates 47 restaurants throughout the Midwest and owns Applebee’s franchises as well.

Managers from the Fort Wayne restaurants may be given opportunities at those other locations, if they are mobile, and employees who had been with the company for more than a year may get severance.

There were about 35 workers, full and part time, according to Phillips.

“It’s frustrating for us to have to say goodbye,” Phillips said. “In 23 years, you make a lot of friends in a community.”