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'Keep the faith,' Sumter restaurant closes due to pandemic but shares message of hope

After just under two years in business, Carolina Grove Restaurant has now closed its doors.

SUMTER, S.C. — After just under two years in business, a Sumter restaurant has now closed its doors.

Carolina Grove on Alice Drive opened just months before the start of the pandemic.

Owner Jim Mayes, while initially hopeful, said it has been an uphill battle since.

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"The dollars and cents, you can’t make them appear out of thin air and we just had to make a tough business call," Mayes said. "The hardest part of everything was telling about 15 to 20 of your best friends and people you consider members of your family, that they don’t have a job anymore.”

The contemporary-southern restaurant donated part of its food to Crosswell Home for Children, serving those in foster care.

"We can have as many as 30 children here at our home and we provide all of their meals for them when they’re not in school," Volunteer Coordinator Suzy Allred said, "and by having that, that’s saving us money from having to purchase all those things.”

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Credit: Kayland Hagwood
Jim Mayes at Carolina Grove while under construction

Mayes said they're hopeful someone else will move into the building, which they built from scratch.

His advice to other business owners is to, "keep on 'til you can't keep on anymore."

"We absolutely have been overwhelmed with the support and the wonderful comments about us on social media and we loved the opportunity to invest in Sumter and we don't regret it one bit," Mayes said. "There will be an end or a new normal. I wish I knew what it was, and then, you know, that might kept us from deciding to make the ultimate call to end Carolina Grove as a business, but just hold fast and keep the faith.”

He also encouraged others to shop small and support local businesses when possible.