NEW BRUNSWICK - Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, a downtown restaurant next to the train station and across the street from Rutgers University housing, has closed, apparently the result of declining sales.

“Brother Jimmy’s ceased operations on Monday, May 7 due to their inability to pay rent owed to the New Brunswick Parking Authority,” city spokeswoman Jennifer Bradshaw said.

The restaurant, she said, owned $80,000 in rent.

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“It was a popular bar. It was a popular college place,” said Mitch Karon, executive director of the city parking authority, which owns the property at 5 Easton Avenue. The business is adjacent to a city parking garage.

The restaurant closed after more than a year-long effort to with the New Brunswick about meeting its rent.

Brother Jimmy’s, which opened in the city in 2012, had a 15-year lease with the parking authority.

In the first five years of the agreement, the company was to pay $29.75 per square foot, or $219,000 annually, city officials said.

Through the first year, the owners had about $3 million in sales, but that dropped off and was down to $2.2 million annually the last few years, Karon said.

In September  2016, the owners asked the parking authority for a reduction, and the rate was dropped to $25 per square foot or $180,000 per year for the period of November 1, 2016 through October 31, 2017, officials said.

However, the company stopped paying rent last November, according to Karon. He said he stayed in contact with the owner, who had indicated he was seeking a company take over the location.  

However, as the back rent mounted, the parking authority filed suit in court in April, and the restaurant closed early the next month, Karon said.

He said the authority has already contacted a realtor to seek a new tenant.

The restaurant had advertised a "Rutgers appreciation night" every Wednesday, with 25 percent off food for university students with ID.

The phone is apparently disconnected at the restaurant. An email sent to an owner did not get a response today.

Brother Jimmy’s opened in 1989 in New York City and has locations in Connecticut, Maryland and Florida.