Located in 7 cities, “ESPN Zone” restaurants have combined the sports world with Disney’s family-friendly image for over 10 years now. Dishing out burgers, beer, sports entertainment on big-screen TVs, and well-equipped game rooms the upscale sports bar locations have served sports fans & fun-seekers alike very harmoniously. Despite it’s decade of popularity, the Walt Disney Co. closed it’s Denver & Atlanta locations last year; unfortunately there will be many more closures to follow.
The L.A. Times is reporting that Disney plans on shutting down most of its “ESPN Zone” locations, with the exception of those tied to a Disney property. The popular “ESPN Zone” in Downtown Disney Anaheim, the “ESPN Club” on Disney’s Boardwalk in Walt Disney World, & the “ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill” appear to be exempt from closure at this time.
Disney’s exact reason for the closures is unclear. Experts cite the economic downturn, waning interest in the restaurant’s concept & novelty of the venue, and the public turning to less expensive chains like Chipotle & Panera Bread as possible reasons for the shut down.
Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst commented: “This year was horrible. 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.”
“ESPN Zone” locations that could be affected are currently located in Washington, Baltimore, Chicago, New York, and Las Vegas.