The Mecca Restaurant needed a vacation, so it took one – a long one.
The Raleigh landmark, whose famous neon sign watches over East Martin Street, has been the lunch spot of the state’s power brokers for decades. Judges, lawmakers, titans of industry have all warmed its bar stools and wooden booths.
The restaurant closed for the July Fourth holiday this year, but hasn’t reopened, leading many to speculate whether it will. Only a post on the Mecca’s Facebook and Twitter accounts on July 18 explains the absence and the locked doors.
“The Mecca will be closed for the time being for a well-deserved vacation....we apologize for any inconvenience or confusion,” the post read.
Floye Dombalis, the matriarch of the Mecca, said Monday that they’ll be back soon. Reached at home, she dashed the sort of rumors that attach themselves to unexplained closings.
“Business is thriving, it’s better than ever,” Dombalis said. “We needed an extended vacation and we thought it would be a good time to take it. Our loyal employees need a break too. Just be patient, we’ll be back up and running soon.”
Dombalis, who recently turned 91, said the restaurant traditionally closes for the week of July Fourth, but has never stayed closed this long.
She said the restaurant will remain closed for at least another few weeks but will open at some point in August. She didn’t have an opening date.
Mecca opened in 1930 and has been a mainstay for decades. Her late husband, John, took over the restaurant from his father, Nicholas. Today, their son Paul Dombalis runs the restaurant. Floye Dombalis said Paul is currently out of the country on vacation.
The restaurant survives as a glimpse of an old Raleigh that has mostly been redeveloped. In all the comings and goings of the downtown restaurant industry, periods of both prosperity and obscurity, the neon lights of Mecca have glowed.
“Businesses come and go,” Dombalis said. “But not everyone sells collard greens.”
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson