Joel and Mandy Marx, franchisees of the Peño Mediterranean Grill at 7037 Wrightsville Ave., have closed the doors to their location and are seeking to sell the restaurant.
Rocco Quaranto, partner at Peño Grill franchising, said that while the space is leased, the restaurant can be sold either as a Peño or another concept.
While the Marx’s location was struggling in the early months of COVID-19, they were fortunate to have another business, Hampstead Pool & Spa, which was thriving.
The pool business became so busy in fact, that Quaranto said the couple ultimately made the decision that it was in their best interest to focus their full attention on that business.
“Unfortunately, they had to shut the restaurant down several times due to COVID exposure concerns, each time taking a loss in terms of business, product and the expense of sanitizing the restaurant,” Quaranto said.
Quaranto said the couple decided not to reopen in mid-August.
“We’re very happy they have another business to fall back on,” Quaranto said. “They are a great local family, and we still have a very good relationship. It was poor timing for the Peño side of things but luckily for them they are going to be OK.”
Quaranto said he is hopeful that the restaurant may still reopen as a Peño location under new franchisees, and believes the concept could do very well there long-term, noting that it is the company’s only stand-alone location with a drive-thru.
He reported that as a brand, some Peño locations have been setting records during the pandemic, with the Jacksonville location opening a food truck to supplement its business just last week and a new corporate location opening soon in north Raleigh.
“Despite all the hardships from this pandemic, it has opened up some areas of opportunity for growth with our brand,” Quaranto said.
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