CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The closings of two longstanding and established restaurants in the city of Charleston has more people looking for work.

It was announced Sunday that The Chop House and Tidewater Grill abruptly closed. Both restaurants are owned by Mainstreet Ventures Restaurant Group and both had spots in the Charleston Town Center Mall for many years.

Kevin Gudejko, President of Mainstreet Ventures Restaurant Group, said the two locations were simply losing too much money over the past few years. Mike Gibbons founded Mainstreet Ventures, but sold it a few years ago.

Some employees said they were notified on Saturday that their place of work was not going to be open the following day and would close for good.

Chef Paul Smith

Chef Paul Smith, owner of The Pitch and 1010 Bridge in Kanawha County, said he feels for both the ownership group and the employees. He said there’s no easy way to close a business.

“I see both sides of it,” Smith said Monday. “When you tell your team that you’re closing, sometimes things go out the back door, sometimes people don’t show up to work so maybe a month turns into closing next week because all of our staff is gone or all of our product is gone.”

Smith called the news of the two closures a “gut punch.”

“I also feel terrible for the employees,” he added.

Charleston Town Center Mall has seen a lot of restaurants leave the building or close in recent years. Panera is gone along with Five Guys and Qdoba to name a few. Smith said the mall is a tough place to be at the moment.

“Tidewater had been there for many years and Chop House was at one time one of the premier restaurants in town,” said Smith.

A handful of other Charleston businesses have already posted to social media about hiring or reached out to laid off employees to let them know that they have openings. Employees have also been offered by Mainstreet Ventures Restaurant Group to relocate to another location in Ohio or Michigan.

Smith is trying to lend a hand to former employees too. He encourages folks to apply for a position at 1010 or The Pitch. He still believes the capital city is a great place to be in the restaurant industry.

“If you’re an employee, put in an application,” he said. “We’ll find something for you.”

Traffic at the mall has not been what it used to be and that most likely played a part in the decision from the corporation to close the two restaurants. Smith said the expense for companies to occupy a space at the mall is also too great to overcome.

“I don’t know what they’re paying but I’m sure it’s outrageously expensive,” said Smith. “I would probably rather be in Southridge, but I want downtown and the mall to be more successful. Malls are just dying in general.”