FOLEY – Officials at OWA this week announced that Wahlburgers OWA would not be reopening its doors.
The announcement came as OWA indicated that a number of its restaurants are once more seating the public indoors as coronavirus restrictions are lifted. The exception of Wahlburgers did not go unnoticed by the community.
Wahlburgers was one of the very first tenants to open at OWA back in 2017. As stated in a release from OWA, “…The evolving COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to comply with state mandated closures at the restaurant for many weeks. In the wake of this national crisis and due to its impact to the business, our Wahlburgers location will remain closed indefinitely.”
“Over the years, the Wahlburgers’ team members have continued to help create the special atmosphere we know and love at OWA,” said Kristin Hellmich, OWA’s director of marketing/PR. “While we are saddened by this outcome, our team is actively working to bring the next great dining concept to OWA.”
The Wahlburgers OWA staff has been offered jobs at other OWA dining locations, as well as many restaurants at the beach.
Wahlburgers officials said the restaurant will soon open a location in Huntsville, Ala., and are looking for a possible location in Pensacola. The Wahlburgers OWA team members have all been offered spots at both these locations.
“While we are deeply saddened that we had to close the doors at Wahlburgers OWA, we are very excited about opening in Huntsville this fall,” said Wahlburgers franchisee Gina Buell.
While the closing of Wahlburgers has come as a surprise to the community, the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce reports they don’t expect to see many more closures due to COVID-19 shutdowns. Still, newly reopened businesses are facing some setbacks.
“We are not aware of other businesses that have closed, but we are keenly aware that business from Foley south is at a record pace with occupancy rates as high as ever,” said Vice President of Workforce Development with the Gateway Initiative Ed Bushaw. “The major issue for our employers right now is staffing. Although people certainly needed the federal unemployment addition to the Alabama maximum of $275, people have been reluctant to come back to work.”