Fueled in part by the coronavirus, a popular downtown lunch spot is preparing to close for good after the pandemic soured a deal that would have put it under new ownership.
Citizen, founded nine years ago by wife-and-husband duo Sherri and Greg Johnson, will close March 18.
The breakfast and lunch spot opened in 2011 at 909 E. Main St. before moving a few blocks east in 2015 to its current home at 1203 E. Main St.
Greg said he’d worked for months to line up a buyer for the business, as his lease was up for renewal and he wasn’t sure he wanted to lock in for another five years.
He had a buyer and deal in hand, until the economic reverberations from the COVID-19 pandemic made the transaction unfeasible.
“We had a green light and 36 hours later the world fell apart, and so did the deal,” Johnson said on Monday. “We worked with the landlord to make sure the new tenant was going to be good.”
The unnamed buyer’s main business is selling food at festivals, but with festivals being cancelled and postponed en masse, Johnson said the buyer couldn’t risk buying Citizen.
Despite Citizen’s closure, Johnson said he’s staying in the restaurant business.
“I’m a lifer, I’ve been doing this 35-plus years. I’m not changing,” he said. “I’m one of those guys that truly loves this business, and the quirks and the ups and downs of it. I’ll work for somebody else for a while.”