On Thursday afternoon, in a Facebook post following its last lunch, the only five-month-old downtown restaurant Phil’s Grill announced it had permanently closed.
Business had begun to slow significantly at the restaurant, said owner Phil Hoke, and the last few weeks had been “pretty abysmal.”
“Restaurants are hard to run,” he said. “We thought we had enough money to be able to make it work, and we just didn’t.”
Phil’s Grill, a two-level restaurant located in the former American Legion building at 125 W. Pine St., opened July 12 to much buzz and a unique format. The menu was built on “all-inclusive pricing,” breaking down entrees into $13, $15 and $17 brackets, almost all of which included an appetizer, beverage and small “dessert bite.”
The grill is the second business at the address to close fairly quickly. The location was formerly home to Italian restaurant Il Giardino Italian, which, in the wake of the sudden death of its chef, Amadeo Grieco, and a lack of business, closed in June 2016 after staying afloat seven months and undergoing $2 million in renovations prior to opening.
The Finney County Economic Development Corp. met with Hoke before the restaurant opened and offered business planning, marketing and hiring support, but Hoke chose not to take advantage of the services, said Lona DuVall, FCEDC president and CEO.
About four to six weeks before the restaurant closed, DuVall said, Hoke asked FCEDC for advice on how to increase traffic, to which it suggested more consistent hours, advertising the day’s meals on social media and realigning the menu with lighter options as an alternative to the restaurant’s large portions, among other tips.
Hoke said he had “the greatest praise” for the FCEDC and the help they provided, though the changes, DuVall said, were unfortunately seemingly "too little too late."
Sheila Crane, executive director at Downtown Vision, said Downtown Vision and the FCEDC will market the Pine Street property as soon as it becomes available.
Phil’s Grill was a great restaurant and will be missed downtown, Crane said. Despite the closure, she said, downtown Garden City was doing well, with a lower vacancy rate than the blocks had seen in years.
Moving forward with final processes, Hoke said he would secure the building and make sure his two full-time employees, a general manager and a chef, and five part-time employees were paid. Hoke was not on the payroll and had not "taken one cent out of the place yet," he said.
“We just appreciate having had the opportunity to serve Garden City, and we wish we could have lasted a little bit longer,” Hoke said. “It was a great experience, and we met a lot of good people and I think that’s the real value of this circumstance.”
Contact Amber Friend at firstname.lastname@example.org.