World Sports Cafe in River Park Closed for Business

Workers and customers were stunned by the news that the popular North Fresno restaurant World Sports Cafe closed its doors suddenly Monday morning.

Some workers told KMPH Fox 26 news they had heard rumors about a dispute with property management, but had been reassured the place would remain open.

But Monday morning, some read the news about the closure on Facebook. Others got a text message.

"It was official when my manager sent me a text saying we're closed, pick up your checks," says Ashley Kennedy. She worked at the restaurant for two years. "I did my job with a lot of pride. And I worked really hard at it."

Faith Quandt showed up in uniform to work Monday, only to find the doors locked. {}

"We were busy this weekend. I don't understand," she says.

Employees could be seeing hugging, crying and trading phone numbers on the patio east of the restaurant.

Some even took mementos from the place, including bar menus, floormats and posters. One man said he worked ten years at the restaurant, starting when he was just 18 years old.Some employees had just bought homes, and at least one is an expectant mother.Workers say managers explained the sudden closure as the result of a dispute with property management.

But Matt Johnson, who had been part of the group that owns the restaurant, says that's not the case.{}

He says the lease ran out, and owner Tim McDonald decided not to renew it.{}

"It was a ten year lease, and we fulfilled that," he says. "We extended it for another five, then added another year. The lease was over in January."

Johnson says McDonald had been privately considering the future of the restaurant for weeks.

But, his current situation may have swayed his decision. McDonald is now an Assistant Coach for the New York Jets. {}{}

"Tim works in NFL, he can't leave New York any time he has to watch his business," he says.

Customers showed up and found the doors were locked. A sign on the door quickly explained: "The World Sports Cafe is closed for business as of today, January 20, 2014."

Customers, including Miles Chatfield, were caught off guard. The teenager and his father, Larry, planned to grab lunch Monday.{}

"I felt like it was a bonding place for me and my father," he says. "We had a lot of fun memories there."

"The wife and kids go shopping, and us guys would come here and enjoy a meal and everybody's good," says the elder Chatfield.

Property management, Lance Kashian & Co. released a simple statement, confirming the closure.



World Sports Cafe in Fresno's River Park Shopping Center closed its doors as of Monday, January 20th.

It's unknown what happened to cause the popular restaurant to close, but we hope to have more information on the KMPH Fox 26 News at 10 o'clock.