After 13 years in Emory Village, Rise-n-Dine, a breakfast and lunch restaurant, announced on Oct. 30 through their Instagram that it will close permanently as a result of COVID-19 related financial losses. Although the restaurant was working with its landlord to extend rent deadlines, it could not keep up with the expenses after closing in-person dining in March.
“We got out of the lease but we know the landlord wants us back and we’d like to be back,” George Basco, manager of Rise-n-Dine for 10 years, told the Wheel. “We’ve seen a dozen places come into Emory Village. If there are spaces still open, then there are possibilities.”
Rise-n-Dine is the second business in Emory Village to close since the start of the pandemic, following Lucky’s Burger and Brew’s closure in May. Although there were measures to boost business through virtual events and community outreach since March, the “palpable impact of COVID-19 is the economic devastation of the businesses,” Todd Hill, chair of the Emory Village Alliance, wrote in a statement.
Basco knew the fall semester would attract fewer students than normal because only first-years were invited back to campus. He agreed with the University’s decision and praised the lack of a large outbreak.
“I am really grateful that Emory did the right thing,” Basco said. “I had faith in them handling it well and that’s how I knew we would not be open with the volume of people coming to order.”
Rise-n-Dine was known for its retro atmosphere and social justice advocacy. Their front doors proudly donned a sticker that read “all are welcome.”
“We intentionally reached out to diverse audiences so we could create a place that wouldn’t just welcome everybody, but would make you feel at home from wherever you were from,” Basco said.
“One of the reasons I loved them is they are incredibly supportive of everyone and their identity,” Frank Gaertner, Associate Director of Academic Advising said. “The way they paid the staff and ran the restaurant … they provided a great example of how you can operate a business with a social justice mindset.”
Many students would frequent Rise-n-Dine for midweek breaks and celebratory meals. Faculty could also be seen taking students out for meals and conversations.
“It was a really valued part of Emory’s community,” said John Moon (22B), who reminisced on his visits to Rise-n-Dine with friends. “It seemed to be the premiere restaurant of the village other than maybe Falafel King … I hope [the staff] are doing alright.”
Nearly 32,000 small restaurants have closed nationwide since the start of the pandemic, with 61% permanently closed, Yelp found. Business owners and employees alike have been concerned over the limited budget for personal protection equipment provided by Congress. The most recent stimulus package passed in early October allocated $3.4 trillion for stimulus checks, small business payroll support and unemployment insurance.
When asked about whether Rise-n-Dine would reopen in the future, Basco couldn’t provide an answer. He and his business partner have been in the restaurant industry for over a decade, and he noted that if there was any time to take a break, it would be now.
“It was more than a restaurant to me … It was a magical space,” Gaertner added. “I really hope they open another restaurant when this clears because I need that space in my life.”
Basco encouraged the community to continue to support local businesses and Black-owned businesses.
“I hope Emory students, faculty and staff will continue to support independent restaurants as gloriously as they supported us,” he said.