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Sbarro closing 155 restaurants in U.S., 3 on LI

Sbarro, the Italian food chain, has shut outlets

Sbarro, the Italian food chain, has shut outlets at mall food courts in Valley Stream, Hicksville and Massapequa. Credit: Sbarro

Sbarro LLC will close 155 locations across the United States, including three on Long Island, the Melville-based quick-service pizza and Italian restaurant chain said Wednesday.

The closures are part of an effort by Sbarro's new executive leadership to improve the company's financial standing, Sbarro said in a news release, noting the shuttered stores were "underperforming."

Sbarro chief executive J. David Karam took the helm last March after James Greco resigned. Greco, an executive known for turning distressed restaurant companies around, was at Sbarro for only a year.

The three eateries on Long Island, which officially closed Wednesday, were food court locations in Sunrise Mall in Massapequa, Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, and Broadway Mall in Hicksville. All the locations are owned by the company, a spokesman for Sbarro said. Other Long Island locations will remain open. About half of the 425 Sbarros in the United States are franchised.

Sbarro has been attempting a turnaround since emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011. Part of the effort included new dough and sauce recipes for its pizza, expanding in new countries and testing a "fast-casual" format popularized by eateries like Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread. Last October, the company debuted that effort in a new restaurant concept called Pizza Cucinova, which allowed customers to customize Neapolitan pizzas and salads, in Columbus, Ohio.

Sbarro started as a family-owned restaurant in Brooklyn in 1956, and began its expansion in shopping centers in 1970. The company went public in 1985 and was taken private in 1999. There are currently around 800 Sbarro locations worldwide, down from 1,000 in 2012. The company opened 81 new locations last year.

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