By Katy Stewart
After 17 years of business in Lexington, Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House will be closing its doors this weekend.
Owner Anthony Bostick, who started managing the restaurant in 2002 and bought it in 2008, said that keeping the restaurant open didn’t make sense anymore. He said that fixed costs weren’t covered by his sales.
“In order to stop the bleeding and protect my family, I have to close the doors,” he said. He made the decision this past weekend.
In previous years, business has been best in the summer tourism season. The restaurant is connected to a Days Inn hotel on North Lee Highway.
“A family of four would come in, drop 30 or 40 bucks, maybe pick up something from the gift shop,” he said.
But people aren’t traveling as much and are spending less, he said. In the past, he would ride out the off-season with what he earned over the summer months.
He wanted stay open until March, when things start to pick up again, but said he couldn’t hold out that long.
The restaurant has lost about a quarter of a million dollars in sales in the past two years, he said. It’s hard to bounce back when you’ve lost that much money, he said.
“I don’t really have enough now to make payroll. And that’s not fair to them, to keep working and not get a paycheck.”
Bostick employs 15 people at Aunt Sarah’s. His staff has low turnover, he said, and many of the employees have been with Aunt Sarah’s since Bostick started working there.
“I hate to see them go through this, but we don’t really have a choice.”
Aunt Sarah’s is a franchised restaurant, one of six in the Richmond-based chain.
Bostick has talked to other franchise owners and he says that they are seeing the same issues he is. He also said that he’s gotten little support from the franchisor.
From here, Bostick wants to tie up the loose ends that come with closing a restaurant before he starts anything new. He doesn’t know if he’ll stay in the restaurant business or if he’ll try something else. He does know that he won’t be able to stay in Lexington, though. There just aren’t jobs here, he said.
“I’m going to leave that in God’s hands and let him lead that path and then we’ll go from there.”