Editorial: Anchor’s Away, Restaurant 101 closure brings void to downtown

Published 9:21 am Thursday, April 28, 2022

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Sometimes, you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.

Yes, that’s a variation of an old saying, maybe even lyrics to a song, but those of us who frequent Downtown Mocksville are beginning to realize the truth in those words.

Restaurant 101 – the Macy’s of the mall, the WalMart of the shopping center, the coliseum of the city – was Mocksville’s anchor.

The place really brought people to town.

For those who haven’t heard, Restaurant 101 is closed, has been for a few weeks now. Closed indefinitely, according to the business Facebook page. We probably don’t need to list the reason, because it is happening everywhere from  Mocksville to Manteo, from Davie County to Sonoma County, Calif.

They were having trouble finding and keeping good workers to keep what was probably the busiest kitchen in the county (At least during the hours it was open.) running. Join the club. Many of their customers worked at places having the same problem – too many jobs and/or too few workers.

Not to get into politics here, but where did all of the workers go? Are we paying people more to stay home than they could make working? That isn’t right. Are we so wealthy that more and more of us just don’t have to work? That isn’t right, either.

Susan Parker and her team at Restaurant 101 did things their own way, – apparently the right way. They thrived when others failed. They grew when others were closing. They became part of us, and us part of them. I’ll not go into a restaurant review here, but you knew what to expect at 101 and you got it – every time.

My wife operates a shop right across the street from 101. She’s seen the frustrated and surprised look on peoples’ faces as they try to enter the closed building. She’s seen the lack of people in town just after offices close at 5 p.m. Once crowded streets now have plenty of room for cars.

Thank goodness Mocksville isn’t a one-horse town. Other businesses are thriving and bringing their own crowds onto the sidewalks along Main Street. For sale and for rent signs are rare, and you can bet those buildings are getting lookers, as well.

It’s because Mocksville has charm. People like to visit here. People like the downtown area. Even if there were no businesses, I think people would still like to come to town just to walk around. It’s that special.

But until Restaurant 101 reopens, don’t expect the crowds for anything downtown to be as large. It was, after all, our anchor.

Downtown Mocksville isn’t going to die, far from it. The place has too much going in its favor, like a new park, new streetscapes – and yes, even new businesses popping up that also bring in lots of people.

Sure, the restaurant will open again. Maybe just like before. Maybe with a new menu. Maybe with new owners with a new focus. But be assured, it will open again.

In the meantime …

We miss you.

– Mike Barnhardt