Cary, NC – The Food Factory, a longtime favorite for breakfast and lunch downtown, closed its doors in Cary for the last time on Saturday. The restaurant is relocating to Duke University in Durham.
Jimmy Schmid, owner of The Food Factory with his wife Lisa, spoke to CaryCitizen on Sunday night. He was cleaning out the restaurant on East Chatham Street.
“We didn’t have to go,” Jimmy said. “But I can only do one restaurant at the time.”
The opportunity at Duke had been percolating for two and half years. During the same period, Jimmy had been trying to get infrastructure improvements from his landlord to the Cary location.
The Schmid’s eventually got an electrical upgrade, but experienced a leaky roof, inadequate air conditioning and other issues. Jimmy wanted to expand his restaurant into 3500 square feet of unfinished storage space, but couldn’t come to an agreement with the landlord about an up-fit. “My business plan was there, my food was there, my customer base was there,” Schmid said. “The infrastructure failed me.”
The Food Factory is moving to the Devil’s Bistro on Duke’s Central Campus. “It looks right out on the swimming pool and is across the street from Duke Gardens,” Jimmy said.
Schmid was philosophical about the decision to close the Cary restaurant. “I like my landlord. He’s a great guy. But I just couldn’t get what I needed to make the most of my business.”
Jimmy is taking 3 of his 12 employees with him to Durham. Lisa’s cousin Ray is planning to open a new restaurant called Dory’s Downtown in the old Food Factory space. Jimmy said Ray would look to hire ex-employees who needed work.
Other restaurants in downtown are likely to see an uptick in their business as well. “We fed a lot of people every week,” Jimmy said.
Saturday’s finale at The Food Factory brought out longtime patrons for a last Reuben or Pastrami sandwich. “Customers brought flowers, balloons, cakes,” Jimmy said. “It was overwhelming.”
The Food Factory will be missed in downtown Cary. If you’d like to check out the new Durham location or stay in touch with Jimmy and Lisa, visit the Food Factory on Facebook.