Amid restaurants closing, mom-and-pop owner talks challenges

Amid restaurants closing, mom-and-pop owner talks challenges

Tyler (KYTX) -- With Tyler staple El Charro's shut down and Zaza's Italian restaurant closing after a year, staying in business remains a challenge for mom-and-pop restaurants in East Texas.

Lloyd Nichols worked for 16 years in the food business before deciding he wanted something of his own.

"It took us committing everything we had. Our time and effort went to The Diner only, and getting really focused on it," Nichols, owner of The Diner, said.

Thus his restaurant, a place for families to eat breakfast and lunch, was born in 2007.

"We opened as everything was growing South on Broadway. Then in 2008, with the economy going down, everything quit growing," Nichols said.

He said they underestimated some costs like construction, and those first few years were tough.

And while people support The Diner, generally franchises are more embraced. "Tyler is kind of enamored with certain chains in outlying markets. When they come to town, they engage the chains heavily," Nichols said.

Entrepreneurs now have to deal with more choices arriving in town.

"There's absolutely no doubt that competition goes up every year in Tyler, but that's also a national trend," Nichols said.

On Tuesday, Zaza's Italian restaurant closed its doors. Just days before and after 70 years, both of Tyler's El Charro restaurants abruptly shut down. 

It's something small business owners can sympathize with. "There's eternal optimism when you're in the restaurant business. Most people when they see a crowd, they think he's making it, but that doesn't necessarily bear true," Nichols said.

The owners of El Charro reported falling behind on property taxes, and as for Zaza's the owner wouldn't comment on why they closed.


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