Sweet Meadow Cafe opening to draw more business downtown?

Sweet Meadow Cafe opening to draw more business downtown?

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - On Sunday the Sweet Meadow Cafe will be open for business in the new location in the old Bernhardt's Hardware building.

“Oh my gosh I am so excited to get this restaurant open it's ridiculous," owner Heather Teeter told WBTV.

The opening is highly anticipated due to the reputation the restaurant had already established from years in the location around the corner in the 100 block of W. Innes.  Now there is hope that Sweet Meadow could also be attractive to developers and other new businesses on N. Main.

"I'd like to think that we could act as a magnet to bring more businesses, more attention, more vitality to the 100 block of N. Main St in particular and downtown as a whole," Teeter added.  "I am very much a downtown advocate."

Across the street at Guitars USA, partner David Brown agrees that the Sweet Meadow opening will be a key in revitalizing an area that still has a lot of empty storefronts.

"I think that's one of the great things about our revitalization downtown and so forth, to get back to the point where we get the community together and enjoy these things and the services provided," Brown told WBTV.  "We're excited about the people across the street because not only are they friends but once again it adds another piece to the puzzle, or the cog that builds the downtown to say hey you can come down there and have an enjoyable time."

Guitars USA has been opened for just over fifteen months and Brown says business is good.  The store offers all kinds of musical equipment and instruments, lessons, and personalized service.

"It's doing pretty well, we've had a real good first year, we need to keep definitely building the business and getting better known in the area," Brown added.

"We've had a lot of interest in our downtown and I'm excited," said Mark Lewis, President of Downtown Salisbury Incorporated.  Lewis says the Sweet Meadow opening and the revitalization of the Bernhardt's building is a good example of what can be accomplished. "There's a lot of good things going on but the economy is still been rather tough,"

Even with the good news there are glaring examples of businesses that did not make it and plenty of empty storefronts that Lewis would like to see filled.

"People ask me why we see businesses going out of business in our downtown and I tell people it's not just the downtown," Lewis added. "Businesses go out of business everyday and new businesses come in behind them.  The truth of the matter is that a lot of our older buildings in the downtown, the per square footage lease rates are lower than they would be say at at Lowe's Super Plaza, so we have folks who are just trying to get into business showing up and they're often times not as well capitalized, don't have business plans, etc."

Sweet Meadow is just such an example, according to Lewis.  The restaurant began in the small W. Innes location, then developed a business model that clearly worked and made the restaurant successful enough that it needed more space.

Other large scale locations like the Washington Building on N. Main, and the old hotel on S. Main have their own challenges, according to Lewis.

"There are two or three pivotal properties, one of those is the Empire Hotel and it's a 100,000 square feet," Lewis added. Downtown Salisbury owns that and we're trying to market it for redevelopment.  The street level spaces, they can still be occupied but nobody is going to spend any money there, we can't sign a long term lease because we're trying to redevelop the building, so that in and of itself creates an issue."

Still, Lewis says the interest that is being shown right now in downtown is encouraging.