Local News

Restaurants struggle downtown

Posted January 27, 2009 5:02 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Some downtown businesses are thriving, while other sections of the city continue to see closures.

After nearly 30 years in business, downtown lunch spot Joe’s Place, at 301 W. Martin St., will close its doors on Friday. The restaurant will join fellow restaurant Enoteca Vin on Glenwood Avenue, which also closed recently.

“The economy is a little different. The business environment is different,” Joe’s Place owner Joe Sciolino said.

In the past two years, restaurant closings across the state have increased. In 2008, 156 restaurants closed – a 25 percent increase from 2007, which had a 30 percent increase from the previous year.

Gauray Patel opened The Oxford Gastropub last year in the location previously occupied by Yancy’s restaurant. It was his second Fayetteville Street restaurant in less than a year. Patel also owns Japanese sushi restaurant, Sono, at 319 Fayetteville St.

Patel said that while starting a business can be tough in this market, there is room for success downtown.

“I think we have a lot of perks, such as the courthouse, the convention center, the Marriott. There's going to be a lot of foot traffic,” Patel said.

The Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau sees cross-promotion of restaurants as a priority, said Dennis Edwards, the president and chief executive of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We have worked very hard on giving the restaurant community as much exposure and information as possible,” Edwards said.

Sciolino said soaring food costs and a lack of promised convention center traffic took a toll on his restaurant.

“It’s become an insurmountable equation,” Sciolino said.