ABC11 Investigates

Could restaurant's closing leave taxpayers holding the bag?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One of the most controversial restaurants on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh is closing its doors.

Taxpayers footed the bill to renovate the building which houses "The Mint." However, city leaders argue that the tenants did not catch a break and taxpayers have not lost anything.

Sources told ABC11 that the Mint will close its doors for good in a few weeks and will then reopen as something else.

With its cold metal doors and no signs reading we're open, Wayne Floyd didn't know the Mint was open for business.

"I did not know that it's open," said Floyd. "It looks like it's closed to me right now."

And soon, it will close for good and reopen as a different concept.

"Frankly, I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did," said former city councilman Philip Isley.

Isley was against the idea of the city spending $1 million in taxpayer money to renovate the old bank building and outfit it for a restaurant.

"I certainly would have rather that we spread the money out to businesses that had been downtown for quite some time and that would have allowed those who weathered the tearing up of Fayetteville Street and the building of the PNC Plaza building, or other substantial works, to share in some of that money, some of that taxpayer money."

"No money ever went to any tenant or the Mint restaurant or anyone else," said Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen.

Allen pointed out that the city invested in a city owned building and leased the space to the Mint at the market rate.

"I know that there's been speculation that somehow the city subsidized that restaurant and that's never been the case, never, ever been the case," said Allen.

Allen said taxpayers have not suffered any loss since the restaurant's owners have paid more than $600,000 in rent over the last four years. Also, those owners said they plan to stay in the space with a different menu but create a different environment.

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