"No kidding! It was one of the best places to get beer in Richmond, and now it's gone", said patrons as they strolled up to Richbrau Brewing Company all Saturday afternoon, only to find a master lock on the front door.
"It's kind of sad that it's gone. This is a total surprise because I just stopped off to have lunch, and it's gone", said Andy Fekete. He says he will have to finish the drive to D.C. without his regular sandwich and beer.
Restaurant owner Michael T. Bryne tells CBS 6 "Closing Richbrau is a reaction to the economic environment we've been in for the past two years..The city has done well. Former Mayor Doug Wilder did what he could, and the current administration has a different set of economic challenges. The city will have to protect itself from the economic environment it's in, and unfortunately, small businesses are paying a price for that and it's unavoidable", says Bryne.
Byrne went on to say " I was at Sam Miller's for 22 years, and then overlapping until 2000 when I became sole proprietor of Richbrau Brewing Company and owner of the Tap House Grill which closed last October for the same reason".
Razors, a men's salon and grooming locale right across the street from Richbrau draws many of its customers from eateries in the area.
"Because of a lot of the foot traffic around this area, if people are starting to do down further a couple of blocks to go to eat instead of this way, of course we're going to lose a lot of walk-in clientele", says Meshael Redd.
Even competing restaurants on Cary Street are taking the news hard.
"I was dismayed, to say the least. It's something that's not good for the neighborhood. We don't want to see anyone lose a business" says Tobacco Company's General Manager Jeff Hallam.
The Tobacco Company first set shop in 1973, paving the way for other major retailers to come in.
Hallam says losing any staple of the Shockoe Slip scene devastates everybody.
"Just like when Circuit City fell apart last year, it's something you don't want to see happen to Richmond. I don't think that any Richmond icon business that employs that many people- that's a lot of employees", says Hallam.
"We made every effort to contact our employees before we open at 11:30 [on Friday] that we were closing. I called all the managers, chefs and all employees working that day that we were not going to open and that we were going to close. Anyone who had a question had my number and is available on the employee list", said Byrne.
When we asked Byrne what's next? He said "To take care of the details as it relates to Richbrau Brewing Company and move forward, and I have no regrets and did the best I could".
It looks like Richbrau Brewing Company in Richmond's Shockoe Slip is the latest victim of the sluggish economy.
Twitter comments posted Friday afternoon said the long standing night spot had shut down for good. CBS 6 confirmed the messages after visiting the Richbrau Brewing Company's Facebook page. There we found a message saying:
"We would like to thank all of you for being our friends and family. As of today we have closed our doors. It has been a fun ride, we have lots of memories and hope you do too."
A blog post on RelentlessThirst.wordpress.org said owners of the brewery had declared bankruptcy.
Located on the cobblestone section of Cary Street, Richbrau was Richmond's first brew pub. With multiple levels, the facility included bars, a dance club, pool tables and a restaurant.