Johnny Rockets rocketed out of its lease in The Shops at 2000 Penn this month, a University spokesman confirmed Friday.
University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt said in an email that the restaurant’s lease will end March 1 after the restaurant requested to end the lease. He said the University does not have any details on another tenant to fill the space.
“The University is in the process of negotiations to lease the space to a new tenant,” he said.
Representatives from the Johnny Rockets corporate office did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Another Johnny Rockets is located on M Street in Georgetown.
The restaurant, which opened its doors in 2007, is the second shop in 2000 Penn to leave this month and is at least the eighth shop to close in the past decade. Chateau Florist, which closed down Feb. 18., was the most recent shop to close down in the shopping center.
Stores in the shopping center have struggled in recent years as smaller shops face competition from large chains. Kinkeads, which used to be a large and popular restaurant in the 1990s, shuttered its doors in 2012 and the space remains empty. Chipotle added a location in the shopping center the following year.
News World, a shop that focuses on international magazines and newspapers that opened in September, was the last store to move into the space. It replaced another newsstand, One Stop News, which closed in 2014.
Captain Cookie also moved into the center last year. The eatery replaced Cone E. Island, a campus landmark that was forced to close after being in business for 27 years. The shop faced declining profits after nearby stores like CVS Pharmacy, Sweetgreen and Whole Foods moved into the area.
Blanca Vasquez, a sales associate at the UPS Store in the complex, said she was blindsided by Johnny Rockets closing. She said she ate at the restaurant frequently and knew some of the staff well.
Vasquez said she had a friend who worked in the restaurant in 2000 Penn who told her that she would be transferring to another Johnny Rockets location in the area and that last Sunday would be their last day working.
“I think it had to do with the rent being so expensive,” Vasquez said.
Sarah Bjkerlie, a worker at Captain Cookie, said one of her friends went to Johnny Rockets for lunch often until he found out it was closed. She said she had never been there.
“It was definitely really abrupt,” she said.