Jillian’s closes in Boardman

Staff report


After 12 years in business Jillian’s in Southern Park Mall has closed.

More than 40 employees of the entertainment establishment were told about 5 p.m. Sunday that they no longer have jobs and will lose vacation time, according to 21 WFMJ-TV, The Vindicator’s broadcast partner.

The company is asking employees to sign a separation agreement that offers a small amount of money to release the company from all future claims, WFMJ reported.

With considerable fanfare, Jillian’s opened inside a one-acre space previously occupied by a Woolworth’s store, a hair salon, the mall office and a community room on the east side of the mall June 12, 1999.

Two pre-opening receptions drew a combined total of about 2,000 invited guests, including the media and local business and community leaders.

When the facility opened, Ron Widman, Jillian’s vice president for development, predicted the Boardman location would complement the mall’s retail stores as patrons would combine shopping and entertainment.

The Louisville, Ky.-based entertainment chain opened its first location in Boston in 1988.

Besides featuring a bar and restaurant with large TV screens for sports viewing, Jillian’s promoted the billiards, bowling and electronic video games it also offered in its entertainment centers. Its slogan was “Eat, drink and play!”

Standing-room-only crowds would gather in recent years at the Southern Park Mall location for live viewing of televised fights involving Youngstown’s boxing champion Kelly Pavlik.

Citing economic pressures that date back to 1999, Jillian’s Entertainment Holdings on May 23 filed for Chapter 11 protection with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Western District of Kentucky.

Court papers listed estimated debts of more than $50 million, including a more than $10 million note owed to New York-based Bridge East Capital and a separate note worth nearly $4.3 million owed to FleetBoston bank.

Besides the mall location here, the company’s website listed locations in Cleveland Heights; Indianapolis; Chesapeake, Va.; Columbia, S.C., Manchester, N.H.; Worcester, Mass.; Peoria, Ill.; Universal City, Calif.; Seattle and San Francisco.

Vindicator staff writer Peter Milliken contributed to this report.

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