JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — It has been a staple in the Jacksonville community for over 70 years and like many businesses, they are having to close their doors because of the pandemic impacts.
“Is it going to be hard to shut the door [Saturday]? Yes, very much so because I know these people really love us and appreciate and we’ve been here for so long,” said the owner of the Ark Restaurant, Kathy Bynum.
Bynum tells 9OYS her parents first opened the Ark in the early 1960s. It started as a way to welcome the African-American community during segregation to come in and get food. Bynum says she purchased it from her parents and has owned it for the last 24 years.
“It’s just, it’s bittersweet. I guess you always know, this day is gonna come sometime another, you know, in the future, but it’s just, we just haven’t really been able to overcome the pandemic,” said Bynum.
This past year has been tough for family-owned businesses. Bynum says the rising costs of food and the lack of workers contributed to the closing. She wants the community to know one last thing before they close.
“I just want Onslow County, Jacksonville to know how much we appreciate them and how much they have supported us and taken care of us and loved us because we love them,” said Bynum.
One couple says they heard about the news on Thursday night. They drove over 600 miles from Pennsylvania to get one last meal from the restaurant.
“We love the Ark so much and we’re sad to see it go. Very sad,” said Jason and Missy Howard.
The Ark will officially close its doors at 4 pm on Saturday.