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Belle Restaurant Closes Downtown

Cary, NC — The news began popping up on social media around lunchtime. Belle Restaurant on Academy Street in downtown Cary had closed. A yellow legal notice was taped to the window near the front door.

Farewell, Belle

Belle Restaurant was a charming eatery with an emphasis on original, fine cuisine with a quaint atmosphere in the renovated Jones House. It opened about a year and a half ago, as we reported in July 2014.

The restaurant was located at the corner of Academy Street and Dry Avenue, across from Cary Arts Center, potentially a great location.

Potentially a Great Location

It will be great when it’s done, but the renovation of Academy Street is taking a toll on local businesses.

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Our reporter (me), had a tortuous task to get to the restaurant. It’s not just Academy Street – construction, lane blockages and closed roads are evident on many streets to the West of Harrison Ave, including Willow, Ridgecrest, South Dixon and West Park.

I crash landed the Fit behind the Cary Arts Center and hiked across the construction debris to the restaurant. Two trucks were loading out back.

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Out front, the property was littered with, and surrounded by, construction material and debris.

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Anyway, one day soon it will be great. But, today, a bright light has gone out downtown.


Story and photos by Hal Goodtree.

 

20 replies
  1. chand
    chand says:

    It is a shame that the town forced this restaurant out of business with its poor planning, poor response, and even poorer landlord skills. Anyone who thinks of going into business downtown should realize that the town is neither easy to work with nor good landlords.

    We don’t really want a vibrant and homegrown downtown, we want it built in an image that looks nothing like Cary. At one time or another we have had pieces of the puzzle, but never all together. The town is responsible for that. They have failed.

  2. kathy
    kathy says:

    Very sad,, you can’t bring the business to downtown if there is no place for them to go,, planning needs to take a much closer look at the plans,,, who will be next ?

  3. Jen
    Jen says:

    So sad. Myself and friends LOVED this special place. Hopefully this house will find another creative ontrapanure. The restaurant will be missed!

  4. Leah
    Leah says:

    I can’t believe that they closed, especially after the city contributed so much to help the location succeed. It does seem like poor planning. I hope that CaryCitizen does a follow-up piece to let us know what went wrong. I can’t believe that Academy Street is still closed. Rome was constructed in less time.

  5. John
    John says:

    I’m not defending the city or its planning for businesses through this process but to be fair it has to be stated that the work being done on Academy Street isn’t simply cosmetic (a repaving of the road). For this area to be redeveloped properly, the half century old utility infrastructure had to be addressed. But having said this, I certainly feel for the businesses along that corridor.

    • John
      John says:

      Out of curiosity I just drove down Academy. Maybe contradicting my previous post & maybe no one’s fault, but it certainly is a mess. The city should make every effort to expedite the completion of the intersections at Kildaire & Walnut, Dry & Academy and one full side of Academy. That would at least bring some practical functionality to the area.

      Also, lessons should be learned & when the construction begins at the intersection of Academy & Chatham plans should be made accordingly.

  6. Brooke Meyer
    Brooke Meyer says:

    Great food and ambiance. Belle was an oasis for me when photographing events downtown. But with the current maze of construction cacophony, good luck to the unfamiliar diner. Not to mention the road hazards. I bottomed the suspension of my full size Chevy work truck last week in the hole on Dry Ave next to Belle at 10 MPH. No one heading out to a restaurant wants that sort of aggravation, too many peaceful alternatives. I will miss the wonderful menu and staff and incredibly hard working owner.

    • 3BG's
      3BG's says:

      I drive that area every day, twice/day since August, & for over a month before the summer, when construction started in May.
      TWO NICE new tires, 4 alignments since September.

      My neighborhood is surrounded by construction for roads, house demolitions, major town plumbing/drain issue projects … it seems like every week a new “project” pops up, & we joke dryly about “oh, they’ll be done in nooooooo time”. Not.

      Alternate routes? They’re all torn up & under construction. 12 minute ride to school now requires at least 35 min. EXTRA leeway, twice a weekday (time lost is money lost, right?).

      Sometimes I get lucky and go Around my elbIw to get to my thumb, & go via Harrison, but that adds total of 5 extra unnecessary miles EACH trip – several times a day.

      And mine us just one story of perhaps way too many.

      So sad for Belle.
      So sad for my Chevy’s suspension & tires, and passengers (especially a passenger with a degenerative spine, who stoically, bravely suffers quietly through a backseat bumpy ride, while all the while enduring unthinking pain – just for a “normal” car ride).

      When WILL this actually be completed?

      Are the contractors actually behind on budget? What were the agreed upon terms? Will the Town recoop anything if the terms are not, or have not already been, met?

      What was the planning, bid & selection process for the project around Dry Ave. & Academy St.? What was the vetting process? Were all requirements actually met, or were a few corners cut for sake of “making it work”, perhaps due to an attractive price tag? Just curious …

      Please don’t get me wrong, I love Cary – I’m a single widowed parent who worked her tush off to get my 1955 “fixer upper” in a downtown neighborhood near my parents’ home so I can be there for them when they begin to enter their “Golden Years” (even though at 71, they run CIRCLES around me!). Yep, it’s a free vountry, I could move, but I CHOSE the downtown Cary area, for many deliberate reasons, after much research & careful planning.

      I adore ALL of my genuine neighbors (yep, we actually know & watch out for each other). We embrace diversity, & learn from each other’s backgrounds. Our neighborhood represents many, many different demographics. We are a REAL COMMUNITY, & a hard-to-find one at that.

      And I can’t say enough great things about Cary PD & emergency professionals – they are OUTSTANDING in their roles, & really keep us safe.

      My peaceful neighborhood has, however, become a magnet for out-of-state developers interested in turning profit, nevermind the sad trail of unhappiness left in their wake (oh, wait a minuute, most of them are still here, ha … no wake yet – just coexisting in the mud-covered, safety orange & yellow, construction chaos).

      Things started changing with Havana Grill’s live booming bands and karaoke-parking-lot-party weekends, then the construction of the turnabouts, and traffic being diverted through a quiet 20 house street with kids and pets playing outside (past tense) – until speed demons started zipping up & down the short 25 mph street at 40+ mph like it was the Audubon – a very short one. I had to persistently request traffic studies just to get a 5 way stop in place, which was great, but only temporary. But I digress.

      I’m not bothered by where you are “from” – on the contrary, I’m quite interested in that, just – when you decide to “live” in Cary, especially in the heart of our downtown & surrounding areas, please remember to actually TREAT it like “home”, with care and respect, so it will continue to thrive for the right reasons, a lovely Town to call Home. Our leaders want that, too, correct? Isn’t that part of the touted appealing unique characteristics Town of Cary?

      Shared in love, for our community (& perhaps my own sanity).

  7. Diandra
    Diandra says:

    The fact is that the restaurant had quite a few very poor reviews on yelp of the food and of the owner. That has nothing to do with road construction. Do a “yelp sort” and start with lowest rated – there are a LOT of low rated reviews.

    Next, let’s look at the fact that the owner owed the State of NC $30,000 in taxes. That’s a year’s worth of not paying taxes at all. The owner also owed a vendor $29,000 and that vendor has never been paid. Finally, the owner owed thousands of dollars to a law firm.

    The owner had zero prior experience as a restaurant owner, and the Town of cary has paid $255,000 to renovate the business for her. Now she walks away from all this and I bet no one gets repaid. The business had financial problems from day one. This is about much more than a little road construction.

    I bet those being owed almost 100k by this business owner never get paid. This is very sad to read. Who are the losers here? The citizens of Cary and our town.

    • Jessica Patrick
      Jessica Patrick says:

      Hey Diandra, thanks for sharing your opinion. Your comments are not being deleted. Before publishing any comments, we review them to weed out spam and to protect our site and readers. You should be able to see your comments now.

  8. Diandra
    Diandra says:

    This is incorrectly being portrayed as the restaurant closing due to road construction. This is actually not at all accurate. The owner owed $30,000 to the State of NC for back taxes. Taxes were not paid for almost a year on a restaurant that was open just 14 months. The owner also owed a vendor $29,000, and owed a law firm several thousand dollars. Local news reports said that the business had financial problems from day one.

    The owner also had zero experience at owning and running a restaurant.

    Look at the yelp reviews. Do a yelp sort for “lowest rating” and you will find MANY reviews stating that the food was not good and the owner was rude. Do a little investigating before saying this is about road construction.

    I feel sad because the losers are us, the citizens of Cary,

  9. Kara
    Kara says:

    I thank the Cary Citizen for a true and balanced article. I will miss Belle both for its charming and warm atmosphere but also for its wonderful food. It was a destination that drew many into downtown Cary until the construction made it so difficult to get to. I admire Belle for fighting as long as they did and continuing to service a community with little to no support from the very people that asked her to come there. I know that this construction is supposed to be necessary but it has not been kept on schedule and has been done in a way that gives no consideration to businesses. I live and own a business in downtown Cary and have seen first hand the demise of the custom jewlery designer and now Belle. It is a loss- as a taxpayer I personally am disappointed in the Town’s lack of support for a venture that they created. The attitude of they build it and they will come has not paid off as shown by the empty theater- still being run by the town, empty art center and now a boutique hotel with no nightlife or contiguous businesses for guests to go to. I hope that I’m wrong and the town’s vision is successful eventually but if it is the vision to turn Cary into a nightlife spot with only alcohol and bar food it isn’t the Cary that I grew up with or want. I love Pharm and hope that the other East Chatham businesses are successful but was Academy street being killed necessary to make that happen?

    As for the very specific and pretty nasty comments above – I wonder where you got all your numbers and facts – not to be a conspiracy theorist but is it possible that the town doesn’t like to be called on their mistakes? Or are you part of a competing business and you feel superior because you haven’t experienced any issues yet. If anyone has run a business, especially a restaurant they know that things happen, business slows sometimes and you struggle through. As for no one getting paid you don’t know much about nc revenue. If anything is owed they will get their money- not only that but what you forget is the owner of Belle is an honorable and honest person who dared to follow her dream. She will meet her obligations. I can’t wait to eat wherever she decides to open next. I know for certain the Town got their money– and now they’ll put someone else that they’ve picked in there. Hopefully for the next tenant the town will somehow find it in their plan to support that business so we don’t have another revolving property downtown- Belle and Tammy: we will miss date night and family breakfasts and dinners. My girls will miss your key lime pie — please don’t give up- try again we will come and eat wherever you are!

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