CARY, N.C. (WNCN) — A third of small business owners report they couldn’t make their May rent, according to a recent study.

While high rent prices are impacting people’s living situations, it’s also impacting people trying to make a living.

Your Pie in Cary shut down in late June, due to a significant increase in rent. 

“We really loved that neighborhood, it was great to be a part of the community,” said owner Efrem Yates. 

The sign on top of the building off of Cary Towne Boulevard is dark, the lights are turned off, and a small white paper hangs in the door, letting customers know they’ve closed down.

“There were changes in commercial real estate and the landscape has just changed so much since COVID began,” explained Yates. “Restaurants and hospitality has taken some of the biggest hits out of all industries.”

He told CBS17 the new lease they were given was just too expensive for them.

“There was a substantial increase,” he added.

Yates’ situation is just a small piece of the pie of commercial real estate in the Triangle.

Prices have jumped, due to low vacancy rates and a high demand.
In 2020, the North Carolina average rent price per square foot was between $24.61-30.61.

Also in 2020, the Raleigh average rent price per square foot was between $24.62-31.59.

It’s something that is happening across the nation.

52 percent of small business owners in the country report having an increase in rent over the past six months.

32 percent of those entrepreneurs say rent increased at least by an average of 10-20 percent.

“It’s disheartening because you never want to see someone struggle, or you never want to personally struggle,” said Yates.

Instead of struggling, Yates decided to get creative. 

In late September, he plans to launch the “Your Pie” food truck to roam the streets of the Triangle. 

“We’re seeing 60 percent off-premise with our catering business and online platforms like UberEats and Door Dash, so the writing is on the wall… this is the new way of Americans dining out. It’s here to stay,” Yates explained.

“We want to play in that space and a new way to market to our guests and reach customers where they are.”

He believes in the long run, this may actually help his business grow.

“In several years from now, we’ll look back at this time and realize some really good things came out of it, even though there were tough times too,” said Yates. 

He told CBS17 he has no plans to shut down the Raleigh or Brier Creek locations of “Your Pie.”

Yates also said he was dealing with a worker shortage, but after raising the wage, he has not run into an issue since.