Red Elephant Pizza closes University Parkway restaurant

Company says they hope to open another location in Sarasota in the future

cschelle@bradenton.comMay 2, 2013 

UNIVERSITY PARK -- The Red Elephant Pizza and Grill, 5231 University Parkway, has closed just three years after it opened and promoted a "recession friendly" dining concept.

Declining business prompted the restaurant to close in early April.

"Unfortunately, we weren't doing enough business to remain open," the company wrote to fans on its Facebook fan page. "We hope to open another restaurant in Sarasota someday."

The restaurant chain based in Tallahassee was started in 2006 by former Outback Steakhouse employees; the University Park location that opened in 2010 was its seventh.

Customers posting on the Red Elephant Facebook fan page appeared to be caught by surprise at the restaurant's closure.

"Really upset that the Sarasota location has closed. It was the only place in town to get really good gluten free pizzas," Jeff Ellis wrote.

John Schrowang, Red Elephant founder and president, was a proprietor for Outback in Tallahassee from 1994 to 2005 before starting Red Elephant.

Carl Sahlsten, vice president of Red Elephant, was the former vice president of real estate and development for Outback, overseeing expansion for Outback and its sister chains, including Bonefish Grill, LeeRoy Selmon's and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse.

A request for comment from Sahlsten was not returned.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. You can follow him on Twitter@ImYourChuck.

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