End of the road for RJ’s Chicken FingersPublished 6:22pm Wednesday, April 9, 2014
When owner Richard Jones locks the doors at RJ’s Chicken Fingers Saturday night, it will be the end of the line for the locally owned restaurant.
Jones announced on the restaurant’s Facebook Wednesday night they would be “closing for the last time this weekend.”
“Our business has slowed down over the last few months and it was just a good time for us to step out,” Jones said.
He said the restaurant wasn’t losing money, and did turn a profit, but it wasn’t “making enough to have to be up here at 5 a.m. every day.”
The restaurant highlighted its strong presence in the community, with various photos of Wetumpka landmarks, public figures and athletic teams. Customers were encouraged to “autograph” any picture he or she appeared in. They also sponsored a number of teams in various local youth sports leagues.
Since the announcement, he said, business picked up, but it was too late to change the plans. Jones’ lease on the space at 4666 U.S. Highway 231, near Walmart, was also ending, he said.
Some commenters speculated RJ’s closure was related to last year’s opening of a national chain selling chicken fingers just a short distance away. But Jones said that wasn’t the problem.
“To me it’s not another business’s fault,” he said. “The people that supported us supported us extremely well and we appreciated that. But it was the people not supporting us and choosing to go somewhere else.”
Jones said he and his family have been working to find new jobs for their employees, most of whom got their first jobs with the Jones. The employees have thanked him for helping them.
He shared a text message from one employee:
“Thank you for everything these past three years,” the employee wrote, “for being my first employer and teaching me work ethic, even though I might have hated it sometimes. I had a blast and it felt like one big family.”