Elmo’s Diner and City Kitchen, two Chapel Hill-Carrboro restaurants that had temporarily closed in response to the pandemic, announced last week their decisions to permanently close.
Elmo’s Diner, located on 200 N. Greensboro St., officially released its plans to close on Sept. 18 via Facebook .
In the Facebook post, Elmo's said it made the decision after rumors of the diner closing spread on social media.
"We had not sold or made any decisions to permanently close when we were told of these rumors," the statement said. "In fact, we were still holding to a thread of hope though it was getting thinner and thinner with time passing... Ironically, the false rumors made us address the gravity of the situation and a need for more urgency in our decision making."
People who commented on the post ranged from members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community to UNC fans who visited Elmo’s when they came to Chapel Hill. Each expressed their sympathies, love for the food and nostalgic memories of the restaurant.
According to the Elmo's website, the diner was named after the main character in the movie "Made in Heaven." The website said the diner was inspired by Elmo's friendly and unpretentious qualities.
From its tomato soup to brunch foods and fries, Elmo’s Diner was a staple in the area and a common place where families brought their kids on a Saturday morning.
Elmo’s ensured kids were entertained by providing a duck named Elmo to color while waiting for their food. Over the years, the diner collected diverse designs such as Darth Vader and Harry Potter-themed ducks.
AJ Moore, a junior at UNC, said even though there would sometimes be an hour-long wait to eat at the restaurant, she'd almost always see another UNC student there.
"It just felt like a community off campus," Moore said. "I thought they were probably the best in Chapel Hill and Carrboro."
City Kitchen, which has served the Chapel Hill community since 2012, also announced its closing through Facebook.
The post said the closing was due to unfavorable lease negotiations.
"It has been a pleasure to share our hospitality and create memories here at City Kitchen," the Facebook statement said.
City Kitchen served items like burgers, fries and craft beers.
Gerardo Morales, who worked as a chef at City Kitchen from 2012 to 2015, said the restaurant gave him invaluable work experience, and he is sad to see it close.
“It has good people — good managers, good people in the kitchen," Morales said. "You know, these are definitely some family."
Matt Gladdek, executive directive of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said restaurants have been mostly closed during the last six months of the pandemic, and they are all looking for ways to successfully reopen because they have waited as long as they can.
He said it is difficult because there is no clear end in sight for the pandemic.
“It can get real, real difficult without being able to fill up your dining room,” Gladdek said.
Gladdek said the best thing to do if you love restaurants is to support them during the pandemic, whether that is through buying gift cards or picking up food to-go.
"They're seeing big hits to their bottom lines and they are beloved restaurants in the community, and I think we would all be devastated to lose our favorite restaurants," Gladdek said.
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