SBD/Issue 185/Facilities & Venues

Losing Its Appetite: Disney Closing Most ESPN Zone Restaurants

Disney Opened Its First ESPN Zone
Restaurant In '98

ESPN today confirmed the ESPN Zone locations in Baltimore, Chicago, N.Y., Las Vegas and DC will close effective June 16. The L.A. and Anaheim locations will remain open and be operated by AEG and Anaheim-based Zone Enterprises, respectively (ESPN). In L.A., Dawn Chmielewski reports the chain of restaurants first opened in '98, and it is "unclear what has prompted Disney to close the establishments, although the bars may well be a casualty of the recession." An ESPN spokesperson said, "From a pure business perspective, the economics have been challenging." Research firm NPD Group analyst Harry Balzer believes that ESPN "may also have suffered from the problem that afflicted Planet Hollywood, which closed several restaurants -- the novelty simply wore off." In addition to the five locations scheduled to close, Disney closed the Atlanta and Denver locations last year (L.A. TIMES, 6/9). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Paul Ziobro notes the remaining locations "are slightly less capital intensive." While AEG runs the L.A. restaurant through a licensing agreement, the Anaheim restaurant "is located on Disney property outside its theme park" (WSJ.com, 6/9).

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