FD Long John Silver’s closes

After more than four decades in Fort Dodge, Long John Silver’s, 407 S. 25th St., has closed permanently as of Monday.

The closure is due to reduced sales, said Richard Levitt, chairman of the board of Nellis Management Company, which owns the Fort Dodge seafood restaurant.

Nellis is an Urbandale-based company which owns and manages 31 Long John Silver’s restaurants in Iowa, Illinois, Arizona and South Dakota.

In all, eight of its 17 stores in Iowa are closing. There are 16 total closing out of the 31, Levitt said.

The Fort Dodge store had been open since 1973, and employed 11 people.

“We’ve been in this business for 41 years,” Levitt said. “Sales started to slide about a year and a half ago. The steepness of the slide has picked up quite a bit as of late.”

Part of this was due to negative publicity since Long John Silver’s restaurants used trans-fat oil to cook its fish dishes, he said.

“Then our franchisor out of Louisville Ky., changed to non-trans-fat oil several months ago, and the non-trans-fat oil was not acceptable to our guests. So they stopped coming like they were before,” Levitt said.

He said the company will sell the Fort Dodge building.

“We’re going to look into other uses for the real estate,” he said.

Levitt said a new oil has been in use for just a few weeks now, and that oil appears to be acceptable to customers. He hopes that the trend can be reversed.

“We’re hoping the brand will be back to where it was in the glory days,” he said.

And if that happens, “we would look at reopening stores,” he said. “On bended knee we’d try to get back some of the employees we’ve lost. They know the business and they were performing at a very high level.”