RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Due to the pandemic, there are fewer options for dining out.
Many restaurants that closed did so for good.
A report shows more than a tenth of them, nationally, won’t reopen.
Charlie Ibarra said his childhood consisted of dodging trays in the kitchen and seating guests at his dad’s restaurant “El Rodeo.”
“A lot of memories here, all of my siblings were kind of involved here at one point or another, as were my mom and dad,” said Ibarra.
He went on to combine his Mexican heritage and Southern roots to open Jose and Sons.
It became a hit in downtown Raleigh and grew with the Warehouse District for seven years.
Then, COVID hit.
“We loved being a part of that neighborhood, but we had to make some tough decisions during the pandemic last year,” said Ibarra.
They are one of 859 restaurants in Wake County that closed between March 2020 and May of this year.
At least 632 of those restaurants have since reopened while 26 percent are still closed.
“The most dramatic data is the closures that were a result of the pandemic this year,” said Ashley Whittington, program manager of the food, lodging section for Wake County Environmental Services.
Wake County experts said restaurants closed at more than twice the average rate last year than in years past.
However, the county is seeing new ones opening at a similar rate to years prior — about one a month.
“We saw a fairly strong resurgence of restaurants reopening in the last six months,” said Whittington.
Jose and Sons included.
About 6.5 months ago, Ibarra opened at a new location — the same spot where his dad’s restaurant El Rodeo once was.
“The name Jose and Sons kind of found its home at my dad’s first restaurant,” said Ibarra.
Now, they are bouncing back in a new place, but one that’s been part of Ibarra’s life all along.
“A lot of meaningful memories here,” said Ibarra. “It’s been a really tough year for everybody, but we’re so grateful to be back in this position.”
Even though 26 perent of the restaurants closed in the pandemic currently remain closed in Wake County, that doesn’t mean they can’t still reopen.
They have a year to do so after closing.
There are 3,150 restaurants in Wake County right now with active permits, according to county officials.