The COVID-19 Shutdown Closes some of Cape Fear’s Beloved Restaurants

by | Jan 27, 2021 | Coronavirus

Telltale Signs when a Cape Fear Restaurant is at Risk of Not Surviving the Shutdown

Unfortunately, a significant number of restaurants in the area are part of the zombie horde. The zombie horde is the group of businesses having passed the point of no return for financial recovery and the owners have yet to announce their insolvency. These businesses are also referred to as the walking dead.

In general, running an independent restaurant is a tough proposition. So many hours are invested into the operations of a restaurant, it often becomes more of a lifestyle than a career choice for the owner. Many restaurant owners often shutter just out of shear burn-out.

There are telltale signs of when a restaurant is under financial stress and may permanently close. Here are just a few…


  • Unestablished restaurants are likely to be the first to permanently close. Restaurants require a lot of capital to get started, whch takes years to pay off. The COVID-19 Shutdown has placed additional financial stress on many new restaurants. Those that have been open for less than 5 years are at a very high risk of closing.
  • Abrupt change of business hours. When restaurants change their business hours (and days they’re open) it could be a sign of financial stress – or owner burnout. Many times management is trying to lower labor costs by doing this. However, this action can alienate their clientele and may accelerate the restaurant’s financial death spiral.
  • Change of ingredients. Ingredient substitution in popular menu items is another signal that all is not sound with the restaurant. Replacing red romaine with iceberg lettuce, shrinking sizes of meat portions, unripened or old produce are all indicators that something’s amiss.
  • Signs of owner burnout before the epidemic. Many times owners reveal to patrons the unbearable level of effort it takes to keep a restaurant open as a going concern. If an owner has shown signs career burn out prior the economic shutdown, they may take this window of opportunity to shutter their buisness and move on with the next phase of their life.
  • A lack of updates for their patrons on social media outlets, on the official website, or via email marketing. This is only a strong signal of something wrong if the restaurant was consistent with these marketing efforts prior to COVID-19.

List of Popular Cape Fear Restaurants that have Announced their Permanent Closing

(Last updated on 27JAN2021.)

Love, Lydia Bakery closes permanently

Love, Lydia Bakery

Permanently Closed

01/27/2021  The Wilmington StarNews announced today that the Love, Lydia Bakery has permanently closed. “We would have stayed open otherwise,” she said. “We’ve been doing 25% of our sales for 10 months. It’s just been going on too long.” Saturday was the last day of operation for the establishment.


Ruby Tuesday closes at Mayfaire Wilmington North Carolina

Mayfaire’s Ruby Tuesday has permanently closed.

Ruby Tuesday at Mayfaire

Permanently Closed

09/11/2020  Now with the Independent Mall location and this location closed, the Monkey Junction location is the last remaining Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Wilmington.


South College Deli Beef on Weck bun

Porches Cafe of Castle Hayne.

Porches Cafe

Closed for the “Forseeable future”

07/13/2020  Located in the River Bluffs community of Castle Hayne, this restaurant provided locally sourced ingredients on its menu. And with a lengthy ‘thank you’ to their employees and patrons on their facebook page, this closing looks to be more of a permanent decision than a temporary closing.

South College Deli Beef on Weck bun

South College Deli’s famous Beef on Weck.

South College Deli

Permanently Closed

Located just outside the entrance of UNCW, this restaurant was known for the best sandwiches in Wilmington, North Carolina. After 21 years, they announced their permanent closing on facebook.

Stalk and Vine tapas small plate

Stalk and Vine’s small plates will be missed.

Stalk and Vine

Permanently Closed

Although open only for a short time, this restaurant became known as the best food on the Cape Fear river. The COVID-19 shutdown prevented this new restaurant from crossing the financial chasm to profitability that all new restaurants go through.

Boiler Room Kinston North Carolina permanently closes

The Boiler Room’s front alley sign.

Vivian Howard’s Boiler Room

Permanently Closed

With Vivian Howard’s connection to the Cape Fear region, the permanent closing of this restaurant should be mentioned. Located in Kinston, North Carolina, the Boiler Room and Oyster Bar will be missed for those who follow NC’s food scene. Whether or not Howard’s Benny’s Big Time in Wilmington will make it to the other side of the COVID-19 Shutdown remains to be seen. The News & Observer’s announcement on Vivian Howard’s Boiler Room closing.

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