The financial hardship of the coronavirus pandemic has claimed one of Columbia’s most recognizable fine-dining restaurants.
The 14-year-old Solstice Kitchen and Wine Bar will not reopen, owner Ricky Mollohan announced this week on social media.
“Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts, we simply cannot overcome numerous issues. Most of which concern money,” Mollohan wrote in a lengthy Facebook message explaining the decision to close the business for good. “However, this decision was not just about being unable to write a check to ‘catch up.’ It’s the uncertainty. It’s cost analysis. It’s coming to grips with the reality of the future we now operate under. To pay those bills, to pay our staff a deserved rate, to be able to put the necessary funds back into the restaurant amidst the new challenges — it’s no longer feasible.”
Solstice was one of the most popular restaurants in northeast Columbia, known for its seasonal contemporary Southern cuisine, extensive wine offerings and welcoming patio. Mollohan also owns the downtown Mr. Friendly’s Southern Cafe, which just reopened this week in Five Points after a long coronavirus closure.
As recently as last week, Solstice had been moving forward with plans to reopen but hitting roadblocks, Mollohan had shared on Facebook.
This week, those roadblocks became impassable.
“So with no changes in our monthly expenses, with no possibility of deferring costs, with a landlord that’s trying to sell the building during such an unknown period in our lives, time has officially run out,” Mollohan wrote.
The coronavirus pandemic has devastated countless small businesses across the country, particularly restaurants. In South Carolina, restaurants are currently limited to 50% indoor seating capacity, aimed at helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 but taking a toll on business’s bank accounts.
“Overcoming 50% capacity is difficult enough for any restaurant. But for small independents without drive thru, without extensive takeout and catering capability, it’s even harder,” Mollohan wrote. “It requires NEW investments. It requires renovations and purchases. All while bringing in less and paying out the same in too much.”
Joseph Von Nessen, a research economist at the University of South Carolina, recently told The State that in this extended period of economic uncertainty, it’s likely we haven’t even begun to see the end of South Carolina small business closures, especially those that rely on in-person interactions
Mollohan shares that fear.
“COVID has changed everything in our industry. Period. I truly fear what things will look like months down the road,” he wrote. “Many pipe dreams are being shattered. Hopes to see younger more energetic folks take the realm.”
©2020 The State (Columbia, S.C.)
Visit The State (Columbia, S.C.) at www.thestate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.