Fire Mountain eatery closes

Published 10:55 pm Saturday, September 22, 2012

Frank and Jonie Brilliant were baffled — but not surprised — when they pulled up to Fire Mountain restaurant on Saturday morning.

The Pennsylvania couple ate there on Sept. 15 on their way to vacation in North Carolina, and liked it so much they decided to stop again on their way back home.

The Fire Mountain restaurant in Suffolk closed suddenly last week. The sign was removed, and a message on the door thanked would-be diners for their patronage.

But when they arrived, they found an empty parking lot, a building with the Fire Mountain sign removed, black tape over the name on the roadside sign and this message on the door: “This location has permanently closed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and we sincerely appreciate your patronage over the years.”


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The Brilliants were unsurprised when told there had been no warning to the community. The Fire Mountain restaurant in their hometown closed under similar circumstances two months ago.

The chain, which also includes restaurants under the names of Ryan’s, Old Country Buffet and HomeTown Buffet, filed for bankruptcy in January and said it would close dozens of locations, though a list of exactly which ones wasn’t released.

The Suffolk restaurant’s most recent health inspection, on Sept. 22, 2011, turned up seven violations, four of them critical. Among them: staff with no or expired food handler’s cards; a box of uncovered, raw chicken located under a dripping fan; soiled sneeze shields on the buffet; and eggs, pepperoni, ham and cheese on the salad bar recorded at temperatures above 41 degrees, according to the Virginia Department of Health website.

The Suffolk location had been removed from the corporate website by Friday. Calls to the company were not returned.