Tahoe Joe's Famous Steakhouse abruptly shuttered its doors on Thursday, leaving its staffers in the lurch at the Pleasant Hill location.
Employees were surprised to hear the diner would be closing and said they had no indication that this week would be their last. A host at the restaurant even posted on a local Facebook group a week earlier advertising open positions at the chain.
Olivia Orpin-Wilkes, who worked at the restuarant taking to-go orders, said employees were given "no notice at all." She found out she was out of a job through her coworkers, and then called to confirm the news with her bosses.
"They just said 'Yeah, sorry, pick up your check at 3 p.m.,'" Orpin-Wilkes said.
A sign on the door Thursday read "To our valued guests, this location is now closed. Thank you for your business and we hope to serve you at another location very soon."
A representative at the corporate headquarters in Texas denied social media rumors that the restaurant shuttered due to health code violations and said it was part of a broader "restructuring." A call to the Modesto location, the nearest in the Bay Area, revealed that it was still open for business.
Cindy Shelby, a Martinez resident, had tried calling the restaurant on Wednesday evening to make reservations but was told to call back in the morning. When she tried, the phone went unanswered.
Accoring to Shelby, she and the rest of her party arrived at the restaurant during lunch time and saw one of the trademark bears that lined the front door being hauled away in a moving truck.
She said she was sad to see Tahoe Joe's go, noting that she used to eat there frequently on her lunch breaks and enjoyed the Woodhouse Chicken Salad. Others on Yelp had been less kind to the restaurant.
Tahoe Joe's had been a staple on bustling Contra Costa Boulevard for more than a decade. In recent years, it's been forced to compete with a crop of new restaurants in the area, including Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que and BJ's Restaurant and Brewery right across the street.