RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Another downtown Raleigh business is picking up and moving out of downtown.
Now, the owner of the iconic Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue says she is also looking for a new building.
On Tuesday, it was bustling inside of the restaurant.
But outside on Wilmington Street, it was empty.
“We don’t have the foot traffic. We have the crime. We got a parking issue and it’s just the vibe down here is just not exciting anymore,” said owner Debbie Holt.
Holt said her restaurant is a safe haven from everything she believes is plaguing the city right now.
“Sometimes, the only time I feel safe is when that door is locked. And I hate that feeling. I don’t want anybody in here to feel that way, but I feel that way…. And so, if I feel that way, I can only imagine how they feel. I know how they feel,” she explained.
After over 10 years in the same building, and 85 years in downtown Raleigh, Holt is looking to leave.
“I feel like it’s time for us to relocate. I’ve never felt that before,” she said.
Holt doesn’t feel city officials are doing enough to revitalize downtown after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everything has changed. It’s like downtown Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina. It’s been overlooked. It’s not at its potential. It could be so much better than what it is. It could have so much more activity, so much more life in it. But it doesn’t,” she added.
On Tuesday, leaders unveiled a brand-new kiosk system.
It’s one of the many things Bill King, the President and CEO of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance said they’re doing to bring people into downtown, and to keep local businesses local.
“We really don’t want to lose any businesses. And every time we do, honestly, it breaks my heart. So, you know, it’s been tough over the last few years as we have seen businesses leave. It does push us to try everything we can possibly do,” he said. “We are offering storefront grants for new and expanding businesses, and we’ve seen some good success with that.”
King said foot traffic is a big problem that they’re working on.
“The return to the office has been the thing that we’re dealing with nationally. Right. Hybrid office work is a thing. So that’s where we’ve had the biggest lag in the sort of the comeback there,” he said.
They’re also prioritizing safety.
“We’ve hired private security, added ambassadors and we’ve also been working with the city on improve camera networks downtown,” said King.
CBS 17 crews tried to ask Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin about the city’s efforts to combat growing crime.
“I’m not going to repeat over and over again about the private security and whatnot,” she said. “I’ve already spoken on it so many times. I feel like, you know, I don’t know. I mean, we’ve talked about the economic development study that we’re doing.”
Holt told CBS 17 she doesn’t know when she will officially move the restaurant downtown, since she owns the building, but she does plan to move within a year.