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Hopcat Permanently Closes Its Royal Oak Craft Beer Bar

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The popular craft beer bar chain doesn’t plan to reopen the Royal Oak restaurant in its current location due to a landlord dispute

The green exterior of the downtown Royal Oak Hopcat building with a sign featuring a black cat holding a beer.
Hopcat Royal Oak opened in 2017.
Brenna Houck

A little over two months after temporarily closing all of its restaurants, Michigan pub chain Hopcat is permanently closing its Royal Oak location.

Multiple people familiar with the business confirmed to Eater that the restaurant would not be reopening at that address as previously planned. The restaurant group hopes to reopen eventually in a different location. Reached by Eater, Hopcat’s founder Mark Sellers confirmed the decision in an emailed statement:

It is with heavy heart that we announce the closure of our HopCat - Royal Oak location. Unfortunately, after extensive negotiation with the landlord — with the goal of securing the location and employee jobs — we were unable to come to a reasonable agreement and the landlord has demanded we vacate the building. We will be seeking a new location in Royal Oak so we can resume serving this awesome community in the future.

The three-story, 300-seat Hopcat location opened in downtown Royal Oak in May 2017 after an estimated $2.5 million renovation with 200 beer taps and a rooftop patio. The Royal Oak restaurant, located at the heart of a busy Oakland County dining scene, was one of the most profitable locations in Hopcat’s collection of outposts.

Barfly Ventures previously shut down its locations in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, and permanently closed its St. Louis, Missouri location on March 16 after two years of business. Hopcat laid off more than 1,000 employees in March due to the decline in business from coronavirus. While bars and restaurants are permitted to offer carryout and delivery service under state executive orders, Hopcat’s founder Mark Sellers stated during the temporary closure announcement that it wasn’t financially feasible to continue operating food service during the stay-at-home order.

The hospitality industry, like every industry, has been hit hard, with the vast majority of food and beverage employees in the U.S. being laid off or having their hours reduced due to novel coronavirus.

Now, as some businesses seek to reopen for carryout service, employers are finding it tough to get employees to come back for less money than they would be receiving staying safe at home on unemployment. Some former restaurant employees are looking for work outside the industry all together. Dine-in service restrictions are beginning to be relaxed across the state; Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula businesses were permitted to reopen with precautions at 50 percent of their former seating capacity last Friday.

Sellers previously told the Detroit Free Press that the company would have to reevaluate the temporary closures if the partial dine-in service shutdown lasted more than six months.

Eater is tracking the impact of the novel coronavirus on the local food industry. Have a story to share? Reach out at detroit@eater.com.

HopCat’s Three-Story Craft Beer Bar Readies for Royal Oak Debut [ED]
‘Blindsided’: HopCat Ends Pick-Up Orders, Fully Closes Amid COVID-19 [Freep]
All Closings Coverage [ED]
All Coronavirus Coverage [E]
How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Detroit Food and Beverage Industry [ED]

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