Sidney's closes, building to be renovated
By William F. West
Monday, January 29, 2018
Sidney’s, a popular café and bistro located in Elizabeth City’s Virginia Dare Arcade, has closed after nearly 6½ years in business, one of the arcade’s owners said Monday.
Leticia Redden, operator of Sidney's in the 500 block of East Main Street, advised arcade owners Will Raucci and Laurie Edwards her business would be closing on Jan. 19, Edwards said. The next day, Raucci and Edwards visited the cafe and discovered it was closed, she said.
Edwards said she and her husband don't know the specific reason why Redden closed Sidney’s.
"She just told us that she was going to close down and that was it," Edwards said. "I can't explain what was happening, but I thought she was doing a great job."
Edwards expressed surprise at Sidney’s closing, noting she and her husband loved the cafe and had dined there every time they visited Elizabeth City. The cafe also seemed to have a healthy customer base among the downtown’s workforce, she said
Edwards said she doesn't know what's going to happen to Redden's former employees.
Redden couldn’t be reached Monday either by phone or by Facebook. There was no announcement last week of the closure on Sidney’s Facebook page. A sign on the door at the cafe Monday said it’s closed for renovations. Edwards said she and Raucci plan to complete a phased renovation to Sidney’s.
Sidney's was located in the historic Virginia Dare Arcade, which Raucci and Edwards acquired last year from Zack and Lescelles Robertson. According to Edwards, Redden took over as Sidney’s operator after the café and bistro's original operator, Karen Patrick, moved back to her native Midwest. According to Edwards, Redden had previously worked for Patrick at Sidney's, which was named for both Patrick’s black-and-brown cat and her hometown in Ohio.
Edwards indicated that she and Raucci hope Sidney’s closing will only be temporary. They have already spoken with three different people interested in opening a dining business in the former Sidney's, she said. Each prospect is local, has past experience in the food service business, and has a different concept for the longtime dining spot, she said.
Edwards said that under Redden, Sidney's had served breakfast and lunch. She and her husband, however, prefer a new tenant who wants to serve lunch and dinner.
"We want to be very careful about who goes in here," Edwards said. "We want to make sure it's a really good concept that'll work in Elizabeth City. So, we're taking our time — and we're going to really look at who's going to come in and what their business plan is and what their design is."
Asked when she believes the restaurant will reopen under new management she said, "I think two months is fair to say."
For his part, Raucci said the time seems ripe for an economic comeback in the downtown.
"And I think a lot of people want to get on the ground floor of that," he said.
Asked if he believes the improving national economy is playing a role in the growing optimism about the downtown, Raucci said it’s possible.
"Yeah, I mean, that's certainly a part of it," he said. "And people want to revitalize these areas of their cities."
Both he and Edwards believe Sidney’s location in the arcade makes it an attractive spot for any entrepreneur.
"We're in kind of the core cultural part of Elizabeth City. And we're going to keep building on that," he said.