Camille’s Sidewalk Café closed Saturday, largely due to the difficulties of nearby construction in downtown Greenville.
The restaurant has had difficulty living up to its name, as the walkway in front of it has been blocked from one angle or another for nearly two years since construction of the ONE project began at the corner of Main and Washington streets. The city provided signs for Camille’s and other businesses to navigate the protective fencing, the location of which has changed several times.
Co-owner Loretta Stephens said the announced redevelopment of her own building, which was purchased early this year by the same developer, Hughes Development Corp., was too much to bear.
“It’s not just the current construction, but it’s the projected two- to three-year project … I just don’t think we can weather it anymore,” said Stephens, who owned the restaurant with her husband, Scott. She said Hughes has been “graciously working with me to close my business.”
Stephens said business was great for the first 18 months before construction. Then demolition of the Woolworth building in 2010 brought daily what she came to call “the two o’clock rumble,” which shook the restaurant and everything inside it. The economic downturn also affected Camille’s as it did other businesses, but she said regular reassurance from the city that the redevelopment would eventually be great for business kept the couple hanging on. But that is no longer enough.
“Until I see it in my pockets, until we’re experiencing the benefits, it’s just been heartache for me, and a struggle,” Stephens said Friday.
Throughout that time, the previous building owners had agreed to accept reduced rentpayments, but the couple still had to dip into personal funds.
Despite the deep sense of loss and disappointment, Stephens said the restaurant closing is only a failure if she chooses to view it as such.
“I can hold my head high because I know that some of the most successful [business owners] in history have lost businesses,” she said.
The couple originally bought into the Camille’s franchise with a small location inside the Asheville Mall and moved it to Greenville in 2008. Stephens said all of her employees have received other job offers, and she was optimistic about her own employment options.