WEST BRADENTON -- The Stonewood Grill & Tavern on Cortez Road has closed, leaving diners wondering what happened.
The Ormand Beach-based company closed its restaurant at 7110 Cortez Road on Saturday in a Benderson-owned shopping center that also features Bonefish Grill, First Watch and Marshall's.
Stonewood Grill has closed several locations this month, with upset diners on Facebook looking for answers. "No way am I going to any other location," Beverly Davidson Panaro wrote on Stonewood Grill's Facebook page. "Bradenton was great! Sad how you treated your employees and the community."
Diners have reported the Winter Springs and Oviedo locations also closed. A Gainesville Stonewood Grill closed suddenly over a rent dispute last year, according to media reports.
The restaurant removed its shuttered locations from its website, however, and lists 12 Stonewood Grill locations, including one at 5415 University Parkway and another in south Sarasota.
At the restaurant Thursday, a message that appeared to have been taped to the door was ripped off. The Stonewood letters and hours aren't on the door anymore either, even though the shopping center signs are still there.
A diner who visited the restaurant Friday night was disappointed to hear they closed when she walked up to the door Thursday.
"I loved their bar. It was cozy, it was nice," said the senior woman who declined to give her name. "It was one of those where everybody knows your name and you get to know people."
Jeff Ash, chief executive officer of Stonewood, and a spokesman for the company from AXIA public relations, did not return a message from the Herald seeking comment.
Stonewood Bradenton LLC signed
a 10-year lease with Benderson Development in 2003 for the space, and the lease had four renewal options for five years each, according to lease documents filed with the Manatee County Clerk.
Founded in 1999, Stonewood had 16 locations in Florida and one in Cary, N.C., as of 2010, according to a news release from the company when it hired Jacksonville's AXIA public relations to rebrand and reposition the restaurant. Now Stonewood is down to 12 locations in Florida, according to Stonewood's website.
Mark Chait, Benderson's director of leasing for the Southeast, did not return messages seeking comment.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.