Planning to go out for a bite to eat? Call ahead. You might find out the eatery you went to last week is no longer in business.

Over the last month or so, Amy and I have headed for Christiansburg or Roanoke and planned to grab a bite at a favorite restaurant only to find the doors locked and a "for sale or lease" sign out front.

Restaurants tend to come and go but the down economy means some restaurants close without warning and leave both employees and would-be diners stranded.

On a trip to Wytheville Monday, I saw four restaurants closed along I-81. In Roanoke Tuesday, a half-dozen more.

Nationally, Brinkers International. announced it closed 35 restaurants and laid off 135 employees in its chain that includes Chilis. Starbucks is still finalizing its list of an addtional 300 stores that it will shutter in the coming weeks. The coffee chain will also fire 6,700 employees in the latest round of job cuts.

The closings, of course, are not limited to restaurants. After 60 years in business, Reed Lumber Company in Christiansburg is shutting down, citing both the economy and competition from the big boys at Lowes and Home Depot.