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Restaurateur says downtown construction led to closure

By Bill Poovey
Published Aug. 12, 2013

Construction fencing and obstructions in Greenville’s downtown development boom claimed Camille’s Sidewalk Café. It closed Saturday.

Loretta Stephens, who operated the restaurant more than five years, said construction severely reduced business and there is more ahead.

“The construction has absolutely killed us,” Stephens said. “It’s been going on since 2010. The majority of days, especially the last two years it has been half of what my normal sales are.”

Stevens said the restaurant has a good reputation and loyal clientele but the recent announcement of plans to redevelop her building — the Bank of America building at the end of Piazza Bergamo — has her seeing no end in sight. She said customers tell her they think the restaurant has closed.

She said there was a time during demolition of the Woolworth Building when she would tell customers to brace and not be frightened.

“You’d just get a good jolt,” Stephens said.

She said the city has tried to help and they have put signs along the gauntlet of construction fencing, which she said gets relocated. City officials did not return messages seeking comment. She said the seven employees have received job offers from other downtown restaurants.

“People like what we have,” Stephens said. “All we’ve heard for four years is ‘It’s going to be great.”’

Stephens said she and her husband are both from Greenville and love the city. They started in the restaurant business in Asheville, before getting the opportunity to open in Greenville.

“We’ve got a beautiful city but how do you balance new development and not have other businesses go out of business?” Stephens said. “It’s heartbreaking because I don’t feel like we are closing because the food was bad or service was bad. It’s one of those unfortunate situations due to construction and progress.”

Previous coverage
City panel OKs renovation at Bank of America building
JHM completes Hyatt Regency Greenville renovations