WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A staple of downtown Wilmington is closing its doors. After more than two decades, Caffe Phoenix will serve its last meal July 31.
Opened in 1989, “Phoenix,” as it affectionately became known, was one of the first fine dining restaurants in downtown Wilmington. Employees say its closing means the end of an era.
"It's such a staple to downtown Wilmington," employee Nichole Mize said. "Everybody comes from out of town. They'll come back once a year to vacation."
"We still get notes about people who met their significant other here," manager Andrew Sutton said.
When owner Roy Clifton died after a battle with lung cancer, employees say his wife decided it was time to close a little earlier than expected.
"They ran a restaurant for almost 25 years," Sutton said. "They opened the river boat in, I think, 1984, and then they bought this place a while back."
In 2010, the Cliftons moved the restaurant from its original 9 S. Front Street location to where it is today a couple blocks north.
"There's not anything like it downtown, and there probably never will be," Mize said.
Though its doors will be closed soon, Caffe Phoenix is still running full speed ahead.
"We're doing the same thing. We just got a new menu," Sutton said. "We're not slowing down any. We're just going to keep going until the end."
A special dinner is in the works for the restaurant's final day with drink specials and interesting entrees.
Another downtown restaurant, Marrakesh, has suddenly closed its doors. The Turkish/Moroccan eatery on Front Street that only opened six weeks ago has shut down. Workers have recently been seen outside picketing the restaurant, claiming they were owed money from the owner.