Good Bye Pepper’s Pizza

After 26 years, the pizza joint in Franklin Street said good bye to its customers last Monday night.

 “We just sat here and drank multiple pitchers of beer and ate pizza because we just didn’t want to watch any more TV,” Lunden, one of the customers who went there during the last day, along with her two sons.

The reason for its closure was due to the increasing number of pizza competitions and the downfall of its business. The owner, David Pepper Harvey, confesses his financial difficulty.

 “I had a bank loan that I haven’t been able to pay and the bank’s coming and foreclosing on my equipment,” Harvey said. “This morning, they called and said sometime this week they’re going to close.”

Ever since the school campuses created dining experiences for the students, the number of customers lowered.

“Business has been slow down here for three years,” he said. “There’s no people downtown. Since Aramark took over the food service over on campus, they pretty much locked up the people on campus. They shortened the lunch break so the kids don’t have a chance to leave and opened all those new cafeterias and put those franchises on campus.”

Lunch time used to be full but now, restaurants suffer and has lost tons of traffic.

“Lunch is the biggest thing where we’ve lost our business — we probably do $20,000 less a month in lunch than we were doing three years ago,” he said and added “There’s just nobody down here. And I’m not the lone ranger, you can talk to anybody down here and they’ll tell you the same story.”

Many  customers were sad of this news, just like David Wehrenberg and Kelly Lane, as they will not have the opportunity to raise their daughter with visits to this fine restaurant.

“This’ll be my daughter’s first and last time,” Wehrenberg said as they brought her there on the closing date.

One of the employees of Pepper’s, Yolanda Leslee, is also one of those deeply affected and concerned about finding a new job.

 “When I went looking for a job up and down Franklin Street, this is the last place I came in,” she said. “I was like, ‘It would be just too good to be true to get a job at Pepper’s.’ And I came in and they hired me, and then a month later…” she said as she shares her life story when she moved from New Jersey to Chapel Hill after Hurricane Sandy.

But now, Harvey’s problems not only concern the restaurant, but his life afterwards.

“I’ve never worked for anybody in life — I’ve been doing this for 26 years,” Harvey said. “I’m going to be looking for a job at age 60.”

Posted by Diane Araga, on March 11, 2013 at 11:00 AM