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Friday, April 19, 2024

Why are Crave Hot Dog locations closing across the country?

In the months before and after Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ briefly opened and closed in Ocala, at least ten other franchise locations have suffered similar fates and closed within short timeframes.

Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ closed the doors on its sole Ocala location (2463 SW 27th Avenue) last year. At the time, the business cited “electrical problems” for the closure, but did not make any statements regarding when it would reopen. 

Owned by Michael Lutz, the location opened in early August before closing only a few months later. Crave took over a space formerly occupied by Kotobuki Japanese Steakhouse, which operated there for nearly four decades. 

Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ in Ocala has been closed for several weeks.
Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ in Ocala has had this sign posted for several months.

No additional details were provided after the closure and the business sat shuttered with the same sign displayed.  

Recently, the company deleted its social media channels and changed its status on Google to “Temporarily Closed.” 

Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ in Ocala
Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ in Ocala (December 15, 2023)

Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ was founded in 2018 by Samantha Rincione and Salvatore Rincione. In the months following the company’s opening, the Rinciones announced plans to aggressively expand the franchise. 

In the past several years, the restaurant franchise has expanded into multiple states. In many instances, those restaurant openings were followed by closures less than a year later. In Orlando, a location that opened along Orange Avenue in February 2022 closed several months later and then reopened again under new leadership in February 2023.

We found at least a half dozen others that all opened and closed within short timeframes: 

  • Eddie and Kevyn Steffensen opened a franchise in Yukon, Oklahoma in the Spring of 2019. That location closed over a year ago. 
  • Tex and Brandy Ridings opened a franchise in the city of Spring, Texas in 2019. That restaurant closed in 2020. It reopened in 2021 under new ownership and officially closed again in 2022. 
  • Members of the Wulf family opened franchises in Baton Rouge and Shreveport, Louisiana in 2021. Both locations were closed in 2023. 
  • Carl and Shirley Moore opened a location in Pflugerville, Texas in February 2021. That restaurant closed in 2022 and reopened several months later. It closed again over six months ago. 
Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ locations that have closed across the country
Multiple Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ locations have closed across the country in recent months. (Photo: Google)
  • Jamal and Kelli Ann Westry opened a location in Colorado Springs, Colorado in late 2020. In 2022, another franchisee opened a location in Denver, Colorado. Both of those locations are now closed. 
  • Ebonique and Daniel Morman opened a location in Concord, North Carolina in 2021. For the past couple months, customers say the restaurant’s front door displays a “hand-written note” saying it is closed. 
  • Brad Fuchs and Darrell Olds opened a Crave franchise in Canton, Michigan in 2023. For over two months, customers also say the restaurant has displayed a “temporarily closed” sign.

In almost every instance, no information was made available publicly, and no announcements preceded the closures, standing in stark contrast to the company’s normal social media practices.

The restaurants all quietly closed, with some “temporarily” closing before reopening under new management and then closing again. 

Despite the collection of closures, Crave still seems to be working on new locations and food trucks. 

In The Villages, reports surfaced last Summer that a Crave location was being built out at a local shopping plaza. No additional details have emerged about that location in the months since. 

In February, Samantha Rincione announced plans to expand Crave’s food truck imprint this year. 

In Fayetteville, North Carolina, the former brick-and-mortar Crave location is now shuttered. It has been replaced by a food truck that serves the community.