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.

[SIZZLING]

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.