Wink’s BBQ owners see a blessing in closing popular restaurant

Yelp estimates nearly 16,000 restaurants that closed during pandemic will not reopen

Pandemic forces Concord restaurant to close

SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - One of the business categories hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide has been restaurants. The review site Yelp this week released a report saying that more than 26,000 restaurants had closed during the pandemic, and that nearly 16,000 of those would not reopen.

Wink’s BBQ in Salisbury is on the permanently closed list.

“This doesn’t mean God let us down,” said second generation owner Byron Martin.

Their faith and family is what sustains them. Byron Martin, sister Dinah, and mother Iris talked with WBTV about how the COVID-19 pandemic led to the permanent closure of Wink’s BBQ. At first, they thought they’d be able to make it.

“It’s going to be okay. We’ll get through it, it’s just another problem, it’s nothing, nothing that’s going top stop things, so that was difficult to get to that point, to come to that…wow,” Byron Martin added.

But curbside and takeout business didn’t do what they needed.

“If we’d have stayed like we were, we wouldn’t have made it. It was constantly going down,” said Dinah Cordell.

“It wasn’t sustainable,” Martin said. “We had our busy times, and that was it.”

Having to make the decision to close and eliminate 30 workers was the hardest part, according to Iris Martin. “That was disheartening for us,” she said.

In operation by the Martin family for 47 years, Wink’s was a place where you’d always find a good cross section of people eager to talk about the issues of the day over some of the best food in town.

Wink’s is also a great example of that family-owned business that locals loved…but the pandemic also took a toll on national chains. Sticky Fingers in Concord near Concord Mills is surrounded by an overgrown parking lot and signs on the doors saying it will not reopen.

“The reason that doesn’t surprise me about the national chains is that they can shut something down and be okay with it, and revamp somewhere else, us, what we’ve had in our favor, God, we’re not absentee owners,” Martin said.

The Martins have discovered while closing was difficult, there’s been a blessing in it too.

“It’s different in a really positive way. I don’t know how it’s going top work out but I know it’s going to work out better than I think it is because that’s how God always does…always does,” Byron Martin added.

The restaurant, located on Faith Road is up for sale, the Martins say, and there has been a lot of interest on the part of potential buyers. They hope it will once again be just as popular as it was for the many years they were behind the counter.

Copyright 2020 WBTV. All rights reserved.