The only Bennigan’s in Nebraska has closed.

Admittedly, in the grand scheme of things, this is probably not that big a story.  Still, if the Lorax can speak for the trees, I figure that I can at least speak for ailing themed restaurant franchises.  This one was in Lincoln:  it survived the first die-off, but just couldn’t hold on in this current economic climate…

In July 2008, about half the Bennigan’s restaurants closed when owner Metromedia Restaurant Group declared bankruptcy.

About 160 franchised restaurants, including the one in Lincoln, stayed open. That number has since shrunk to fewer than 50 in the U.S. and around 50 internationally, according to the Bennigan’s Web site.

The restaurant industry has been hit hard by the recession.

The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index has been growth-negative for 22 straight months, and 68 percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales decline in August.

I hadn’t even realized that the chain was in trouble, but apparently so: the number of restaurants has dropped by two-thirds in just under a year.  Still, customers can always go to Iowa.

For now, at least.

Moe Lane

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