Rollins Cafeteria shuts its doors

Owner struggling with overhead costs
Aug. 06, 2013 @ 12:43 PM

Through social media Sunday afternoon the owner of Rollins Cafeteria in Forest City announced his restaurant is closing. 

Wayne Rollins told his Facebook friends to "please bare with me" but the doors on Rollins Cafeteria were closing. The restaurant has been in existence over nine years.

He thanked the staff and his mother for their hard work.

"That was probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life — telling them yesterday," Rollins said.

"I don't know what we'll do. . .my goal is to stay here. I was raised here. My family is here."

He said he has three or four weddings/parties already on the books and they will be taken care of.

"I'd like to say I'll do the catering. It was the most consistent of all, but right now, I just can't say that," Rollins continued.

He will have to find a facility for catering and will utilize kitchens of friends to do the scheduled catering jobs, but after that he is not sure."I don't know exactly what to do. The economy is so bad. It's hard to say," he said Monday afternoon.

With all the "big overhead that comes along with the restaurant, I just couldn't continue to keep the business profitable. Rent, power bill, gas bill, insurances, taxes all of the above," Rollins said on his Facebook page. 

His announcement brought about 200 posts from friends and those who frequented the business.  

Rollins was a loyal supporter of the Rutherford County Chapter of the American Cancer Society and for many years hosted the Relay for Life Wrap-Up breakfast at the restaurant.

"We've been so thankful for the support of Wayne and his mom, Susie (Byers)," said ACS Senior Community Manager Debbie Buchanan. Byers is a cancer survivor.

"The Relay team, his sponsorship, the wrap-up and the team captains' meetings were held there. We are going to miss him. Not just the Cancer Society but the whole community. He is a genuine good person. Such a good person."

She said she had a lengthy conversation with Rollins recently and he said the cafeteria wasn't doing well.

Rollins has supported many civic organizations, sports teams and others throughout the years because of his concern for community.

Some friends of Rollins Cafeteria posted on the Facebook page that they were sorry; one person has an event planned there the end of August; one person posted, "another one bites the dust, hate that." 

In the recent past, Tuscany Italian Grille in Spindale closed its doors and Ol' Blues House of BBQ in Forest City also closed its restaurant recently on West Main Street. Ol' Blues is operating the OBHCafe at Isothermal Community College and is also catering. Other restaurants in the county have also closed in the past year.

Rollins overcame adversity in April 2010 when the building sustained significant fire damage. 

After a commitment from Rollins and the building owner Webb Hunt to rebuild, the popular restaurant reopened in November 2010.

Hunt said Monday afternoon things were "getting so tight" with the cost of food and overhead, Rollins was struggling.

Hunt said he hopes to meet with Rollins today and determine if there is something else they can do.

"I don't believe in shutting things down," Hunt said. "We'll try to do something."

Rollins has been in the restaurant business since he was 14. He started his career at Dockside and after college he managed Wade's in Spartanburg, S.C.

Rollins was a popular eating venue for Sunday lunch and at one time 600-plus people filled the dining room. 

His menu was altered this year, offering sandwiches and other dishes from an "order only menu" at lunch time to try to cut costs, said Buchanan.

Friends posted it was one of only a few "homemade cooked meals" in the county.

"Thank to my customers, ya'll are and still will be family to me," Rollins added. 

After he told his staff Sunday at closing, he said they all hugged.

"I'll be okay," he said.