Kipos Greek Taverna shut its doors in mid-March to comply with Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order, which prohibited dine-in restaurant service to slow the spread of the coronavirus. What was meant to be a temporary decision is now a permanent one — the restaurant's Franklin Street location is closed for good.
Luckily for those who love Kipos, the restaurant's owners plan to reopen in a new Chapel Hill location.
Part of the hospitality company Giorgios Group, which has 11 other restaurants, Kipos has been on Franklin Street for seven years. Owner Giorgios Bakatsias said the group plans to share details regarding the new location soon, with hopes of opening by late summer or early fall.
“Kipos is a very special restaurant for Giorgios Group. It’s a celebration of our Greek heritage and the healthy and delicious food ways that we learned from our mother, grandmother and ancestors,” Bakatsias said.
The decision to close the Franklin Street property follows lease negotiations since March and is a “direct result” of having to temporarily close, Bakatsias said.
“As it became clear that we would not be able to negotiate a favorable situation considering months of closure, we began looking at our options, and discovered one that we are very excited about,” he said. “We have had great success with most of the landlords of our properties, but in this case, we were not offered terms which would have aided us at all in this devastating time of economic loss.”
Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich said this type of economic pressure is being felt by many local businesses right now, including her own personal chef and catering company. The restaurant and tourism industry is crucial to Orange County, she said, with the industry comprising close to 300 restaurants and providing 2,000 jobs — most of which were shut down and lost due to stay-at-home orders.
“As we start thinking about how we’re going to open again though, what does that mean for the next step of these small businesses? How many of them are going to be able to open? It concerns me that we’re going to lose a lot of these restaurants because they won’t be able to open at 50 percent capacity. It won’t work for them,” Rich said.
Rich said the county is trying to help these businesses, through grant and loan programs as well as $2.6 million of proposed COVID-19 relief funding. Next week, Rich said the commissioners will be discussing how to put some of that money toward small businesses, as well as discussing housing recovery payments and eviction diversion programs.