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Golden Corral in EC closes

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Several pickup trucks and vans are seen outside the front and back entrances of Golden Corral Thursday afternoon, apparently being used to load equipment from the restaurant. The store's owner has confirmed that the popular eatery at the corner of Halstead Boulevard and Ehringhaus Street has closed. In this photo, several chairs were seen loaded in the bed of the silver pickup on the right.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Golden Corral in Elizabeth City has closed permanently, the restaurant’s owner said Thursday.

Owner Dale Horn confirmed the restaurant is closing permanently, but declined to explain why. Movers were clearing out the restaurant’s furniture and equipment on Thursday.

The restaurant’s closure proved a surprise to many, as the company appeared to provide no announcement ahead of time. The Elizabeth City Golden Corral Facebook page made no mention of the closing as of midday Thursday.

Founded in 1973, Golden Corral has operated a restaurant in Elizabeth City for well over 15 years, based on Daily Advance archives. Its closure comes despite assets such as a well-recognized brand, a smorgasbord of stick-to-your-ribs meal and dessert options, and a good location at the heavily trafficked intersection of Halstead Boulevard and Ehringhaus Street.

It doesn’t appear Golden Corral closed for health or safety concerns. A spokeswoman for Albemarle Regional Health Services, the agency that conducts health inspections of restaurants in an eight-county region, including Elizabeth City, said “the closing was not related to ARHS.”

“ARHS was unaware of the closing of the restaurant until today,” ARHS spokeswoman Jill Jordan said in an email Thursday.

The restaurant’s closing has forced at least one civic group to look for a new meeting venue. A spokeswoman for the Elizabeth City Morning Rotary Club, which has held its weekly meetings at the Golden Corral for a number of years, said the group plans to meet at Montero’s Restaurant this coming Friday. The Morning Rotary Club’s board of directors will then decide where to hold future meetings, she said.

Based on Golden Corral’s list of locations online, the closest Golden Corrals to Elizabeth City now are in the Chesapeake and Norfolk areas.

As a whole, Golden Corral appears to be fighting against declining sales for buffet restaurants. A CNBC article from last year reported Golden Corral, which has nearly 500 restaurants, saw revenue drop 2.6 percent the prior year — a smaller decline than its competitors, however.

An economic analyst also told CNBC that buffet restaurants’ “core customers” tend to be lower-income diners, who eat out less. Customers also perceive eating at buffets to be unhealthy, he added.

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