Wendell restaurant Farmers & Merchants was planning its grand opening for the early months of 2020, but COVID-19 had different plans. Months were spent refurbishing the tired old building in downtown Wendell into a greatly anticipated eating and drinking establishment. When the global pandemic that shut down the state was declared on March 11, owners Brad Ellis and Sigurd Westerlund were surprised to find the Metro Raleigh restaurant patrons would travel almost anywhere to experience eating out again.
In the small metropolis of Wendell, the enforcement of the mask mandates were not as strict as those in Raleigh. Because of the looser restrictions, Ellis and Westerlund decided to continue with the opening in June 2020. In hindsight, Westerlund said they could have never predicted the success.
“We also could not have pictured the effects of the city (Raleigh) opening back up,” Westerland said.
Farmers & Merchants was able to keep its doors open during the pandemic, but as mandates lifted within Raleigh, residents have started to retreat back to the city rather than spend time in suburbs.
Nights that traditionally led to a full house; now host only a few tables.