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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — With so many people out of work or just trying to save money, eating an expensive meal is not something everyone can afford right now. So we wanted to know how other fine dining restaurants in downtown Wilmington are handling the tough economy.

“I definitely think it’s a struggle for people to go out for an expensive meal for sure,” says Ashley Swinson, a manager at Elijah’s.

Three restaurants have closed their doors downtown, two of them fine dining establishments. Caffe Phoenix is scheduled to close its doors July 31 and Crow Hill announced their closing Sunday. The economy has no doubt been a factor, but according to some, business has been on the upswing.

“I have seen a little increase over the last year though,” Swinson says. “You know we’ve come up a little bit,” Swinson says.

Patricia Moity, owner of Caprice Bistro, says this summer has been a blessing to business, with several movies being filmed and downtown shows and concerts. But to keep a restaurant successful, she says good customer service is key.

“I have to say that downtown since these last two, three years has been much better,” she says. “We’ve had more people come in.”

“We just have to make sure that our customers are happy and our servers are on point and taking care of their customers well because we want to make sure everyone’s happy and enjoy their visit here and come eat with us again,” Swinson says.

Comment on this Story

  • Guestfood

    I don’t go downtown to eat, because you have to pay for parking and you can never find a parking spot close to where you want to eat. It is bad having to walk three blocks in the rain to get to your car.

  • Guest 10101

    Well … actually I don’t.

    I can understand not wanting to pay for parking, but …

    Three whole blocks … all by yourself … without any help?

    And always in the rain? … Wow!

  • FleetGhost

    The prices double what they used to be and entrees are presented as little slivers of mystery meat instead. Forget ordering drinks on top of that. Oh for that great home caught seafood that was actually cooked on site that we used to have in Wilmington! I sure enjoyed it while it lasted. No more.

  • Guest65489

    The general service downtown is not what it used to be. The wait staffs are rude or absent minded. It takes forever to get seated, even when they are not busy. I frequent a couple places downtown, but only for the descent food and beer selection (Fat Tony’s and Front Street) I always go knowing its gonna be a LONG time for everything in between. Crow Hill was a nice place, with GREAT food, but again SLOW service and we were one of only people there! Traffic and parking is awful and so when thinking of eating somewhere DT is not a first choice.

    I can go to Mayfaire, have FREE parking (traffic still stupid) have a better selection and most cases better service (in general customer service has dropped).

    I am not a hard customer, just seat me and get me a beverage, don’t keep checking on me(I hate hovering waiters, but don’t let my glass become empty through most or all of my meal. If I have to ask for a refill of ANY beverage.. you have not done your job as a wait staff.

  • ChefnSurf

    I would sincerely doubt that no more than a small percentage of fine dining customers feel this way, if any at all. It just wouldn’t make any sense to pay money for a product you thought was overpriced.

    Among other things, fine dining involves the preparation of stocks and sauces not found at home or in casual eateries as well as access to meats and seafood not even available on a regular basis to casual or home diners. Add to that the hours of professional food preparation and layers of attentive service and you’ve now defined the fine dining experience. None of these services are free due to increases in payroll and food costs for premium ingredients. That does, of course, define fine dining as a luxury instead of an everyday expense.

    Perhaps, some day, if you can afford it, you should try it. In the mean time, in my humble opinion, please re-read the “Subject:” sentence header.

    Have a great day! :-)

  • GuestVader

    Have never understood why people seem the think the food is better simply because you are overcharged for it.

  • foodie

    Elijah’s is far from fine dining. They overcharge because of their location. Why not interview Caprice or Manna, two of the top restaurants in downtown Wilmington.

  • Scott Pickey

    Foodie – did you catch the third paragraph from the bottom?

    “Patricia Moity, owner of Caprice Bistro, says this summer has been a blessing to business, with several movies being filmed and downtown shows and concerts. But to keep a restaurant successful, she says good customer service is key.”


    Scott Pickey
    WWAY News Director

  • 1981duke

    The article is not about the best restarants,it is about the ones that draw alot of traffic,which Elijah’s does.

  • guesty

    It is easier to just spout off without worrying about facts. Just like duke wanting a baseball stadium paid for by taxpayers.

  • 1981duke

    More customers than expected,commerce builds other commerce.
    Right Scott?

  • ChefnSurf

    …. the article is about less customers than expected.

    There has never been an actual correlation between the stadium and generating more customers than expected for fine dining restaurants or vise versa

    That connection has apparently been created strictly within the confines of your own baseball stadium imagination.

    I can’t help but applaud your enthusiasm, but really, just once in a while, try to put out something remotely factual.

  • Beach Bum

    Wilmington sucks. Go to Myrtle Beach. Far better selecton of resturants and environment.

    And they have a baseball stadium

  • Grand Ole Party

    Actually it is about upper scale restaurants. Hence the words fine dining in the title. If it was about ones that draw a lot of traffic they would be discussing McDonald’s. Try again.

  • ChefnSurf

    If you had taken the time to simply read the article, you would have seen that the article is about FINE DINING RESTAURANTS.

    Here’s a tip-off, the title of the piece was: “FINE DINING RESTAURANTS take a hit downtown”, or perhaps “So we wanted to know how other FINE DINING RESTAURANTS in downtown Wilmington are handling the tough economy.”

    NOWHERE in the article is there even a reference to restaurants that DRAW A LOT OF TRAFFIC.

    Kinda makes all of your stadium prognostications seem a “little” dubious.

  • SurfCityTom

    Duke: reread the article. It deals with fine dining; it has nothing to do with patron traffic.

    I thought you were going to let it rest and play out before you resume posts on the baseball stadium/ property taxpayer albatross.

    Every time you post on any subject; sooner or later you have to lead it back to the ill fated ballpark.

    And every time you do, you give the opponents to the property taxpayer albatross a new rallying point.

    You are, without doubt, doing more harm to the plans for the ballpark. As a property tax payer, which apparently you are not, keep up the good work. I pay enough in taxes.

  • love chandlers wharf

    with 2 generous homecooked sides that melt in your mouth the collards are swwet & sour flavor!

  • GuestMe

    I avoid downtown because of the thugs, panhandlers and weasels. Isn’t that where most of the attorney offices are?

  • Guest55

    There hasn’t been fine dining Downtown since Scott Fisher closed up his Cafe. The restaurants Downtown are consistent with what you find most anywhere but calling them “fine dining” is quite a stretch. McDonald’s doesn’t become fine dining because you throw a white cotton cloth on the table. At best, what you have Downtown is bar food and upscale bar food and that’s about it. I’ve had quite alot of the fine dining experience and I like it very much. Just, please, don’t pretend it exists here.

  • Beach Bum

    Go to Myrtle Beach. Far better selection of resturants and even better atmosphere.

    Wilmington sucks at life.

    2nd time I have posted this.


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