This past week marked the closure of two restaurants on Front Street in downtown Wilmington: Aubriana’s, 115 S. Front St., and Betsy’s Crepes, 127 N. Front St.
After nine years in business, Aubriana’s owners Ron Jackson and Carol Roggeman have decided to retire. The restaurant went through a rebranding of sorts this past April when they shifted their focus to steak, featuring USDA Prime Grade steaks aged for at least 21 days. They brought in executive chef Josh Seward and general manager Nicole Boudrieau, both with extensive backgrounds at steakhouses to help guide the transition.
At that time, Roggeman told the Business Journal
that having a general manger for the first time felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from the owners' shoulders.
Calls to Roggeman and Jackson were not returned, but a recorded message on the restaurant’s voicemail stated that the decision to close was a difficult one and that they wished to thank all of their guests and customers for their love and support.
Betsy's Crepes closed for a different reason. Betsy Markey, owner of Betsy’s Crepes, said she felt her hands were tied as landlord Charles Samos refused to make the repairs necessary to keep her restaurant open.
Markey said she was given 30 days by the New Hanover County Heath Department for repairs to be made to the ceiling and floor of the restaurant. Despite repeated requests to Samos, none of the repairs were taken care of during the allotted time, and so she closed her doors over the weekend in advance of a health department shutdown, Markey said.
“Our business was doing really well and we had some excellent long-standing employees,” Markey said. “We really hated to have to close due to problems with the building and to put these people out of a job.”
Markey said that some of the issues were supposed to have been taken care of prior to the restaurant’s opening in July 2015.
Samos, who also owns the neighboring buildings housing Fat Tony’s Italian Pub, Orton’s Pool Room and Cape Fear Wine and Beer, said that he did receive a letter from Markey stating the timeline for repairs required by the health department. He said that while he was in the process of getting several estimates for roof repairs, he admits that he was not in direct communication with Markey regarding the status of the work to be done.
Markey continues to operate the original Betsy’s Crepe’s at 127 SW Broad St. in Southern Pines. That restaurant is currently undergoing a renovation that will double its original size. Markey is hopeful that it will reopen within the next two weeks.
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