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K&W Cafeteria closes its doors, will continue to serve Meals on Wheels

SALISBURY — The K&W Cafeteria at West End Plaza recently closed its doors to the public, but it is expected to remain in operation as a food provider for Meals on Wheels Rowan and other organizations.

The Salisbury location of the cafeteria-style restaurant chain is one of several stores that were closed recently. Just this week, K&W also shuttered locations in Raleigh and Chapel Hill. The restaurant chain has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, both due to it operating as a buffet-style eatery and because of its older clientele, many of which are at a greater health risk from COVID-19. The company’s president, Dax Allred, said that business dropped by 80% during the height of the pandemic, according to a story published by the Winston-Salem Journal.

The K&W Cafeteria in Salisbury has provided frozen meals for the non-profit Meals on Wheels organization since March, and the nonprofit’s director says that will continue.

“During the pandemic, immediately they worked with us to start out doing frozen meals, instead of our regular meals, because we were concerned with the amount of contact,” said Cindy Fink, the executive director of Meals on Wheels Rowan. “I know that K&W statewide began servicing a lot of other Meals on Wheels accounts with their frozen meals. I don’t know how much of that is still happening at our Salisbury location, but I do know that they’re doing food service for more than just Meals on Wheels.”

Fink said that K&W Cafeteria will continue to provide dinners and lunches to Meals on Wheels, which will be distributed to residents who are homebound and food insecure. Acting as a food service provider and catering company could prove to be more stable than operating a dine-in restaurant while state restrictions and health concerns still deter some people from eating in, said Fink.

“They are providing us, Rufty-Holmes and some other organizations I’m not familiar with with meals,” Fink said. “Even with just the two of us, if you add 275 for us plus 150 they’re doing for them, they’re doing 425 meals a day just between the two organizations.”

While the K&W Cafeteria kitchen will continue to pump out meals, many say they will miss visiting the restaurant for lunch. That includes veteran Troy Horton, who started meeting with other service men at the cafeteria for coffee and pastries in 2019. When COVID-19 forced the restaurant to stop hosting the weekly coffee event, the group of veterans still met for lunch on Tuesdays. Until this week, that is.

“A small group of us are still meeting on Tuesdays at 11 o’clock to have lunch,” Horton said. “We were doing it at K&W until they shut their doors.”

They met at Cagney’s in Granite Quarry on Tuesday and plans on gathering at a Cracker Barrel next week. 

“This means too much to me and the other veterans,” Horton said. “As long as I can find us a location to meet, we’re going to meet somewhere.”

Still, Horton said the veterans will miss their mornings and lunches at K&W Cafeteria.

“K&W stepped up to the plate and we appreciated them,” Horton said. “Yeah, it meant a lot to us. We hate to lose them. We do support them.”

The property where K&W Cafeteria is located at West End Plaza, formerly the Salisbury Mall, is owned and operated by Rowan County. While County Manager Aaron Church could not be reached for comment, Commissioner Mike Caskey said that, to his knowledge, they haven’t received a notice from K&W Cafeteria that the location would be closing its doors.

“I don’t know of anything that we’ve received,” Caskey said. “I asked the county manager about it and he didn’t recall receiving anything.”

Caskey said he is aware of how the closing impacts the veterans who used to gather at the restaurant and that he has plans on helping them locate a new meeting place, if needed.

K&W Cafeteria could not be reached for comment.

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