First Raleigh restaurant closed by pandemic reopens

A little more than a year ago, a Raleigh business was forced to close after a patron tested positive for COVID-19. Now, it has officially reopened for business serving Latin-inspired dishes.

Video Transcript

ELAINA ATHANS: We've been seeing people throughout the night coming out and offering their support. I had a chance to speak with some of the servers earlier. In unison, they said they are thrilled the spot's reopening after being closed for months.


Creativity is flowing again inside SOCA's kitchen. Orders are coming through, dishes being plated, and customers being welcomed back.

SEAN DEGNAN: How is everything, guys?

- Good.

SEAN DEGNAN: A lot of prep work, rehiring, retraining. There's some new people, but we're very excited to be back.

ELAINA ATHANS: The last year and a month has been trying for the owner. The Latin Fusion spot was one of, if not the first restaurant to close in the Triangle after a patron tested positive for COVID-19. I was there last March as professional cleaning crews were sanitizing the space.

The owner tried to-go and delivery during the stay-at-home order. He later brought in heaters to serve folks outdoors before throwing in the towel and shuttering doors.

SEAN DEGNAN: As we headed into the cold months where the numbers were so bad, we just felt like-- I mean, we called it a hibernation. We knew that there wasn't really anything to gain for a couple of months.

ELAINA ATHANS: Now, a re-emergence. The restaurant's reopening as many spots are experiencing a boom in business. Some places, like Taverna Agora, say sales are at pre-pandemic levels. The weather's been nice and more people are vaccinated.

SEAN DEGNAN: There's a palpable level of demand where people want to get back out. People haven't seen their families, some people in a year.

ELAINA ATHANS: With the appetite for dining out back, SOCA's hoping to help folks celebrate moments missed during the pandemic.

SEAN DEGNAN: All of the events from last year. All the anniversaries, all the birthdays, all the holidays that were missed-- it's good to be a part of it.

ELAINA ATHANS: The owner also made it a point to reopen only after his staff were all fully vaccinated.

In Raleigh, Elaina Athans, ABC11 Eyewitness News.