Citing low traffic, Golden Corral closes doors

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A mainstay for buffet lovers in Wilson has closed.

At the Golden Corral location at 3101 Raleigh Road Parkway in Wilson, the sign on the marquee and the front door says “Happy New Year! From our Golden Corral family to yours, we would like to thank you for 20 years.”

Curtis James, a district manager for Golden Corral, said Sunday was the last day of service when the business closed at 4 p.m.

“We had good clientele, just not enough community support, but the community that did was great.”

The restaurant has experienced turmoil in recent years. In 2011, it was taken over by the franchise owner of locations in Smithfield and Fuquay-Varina. The franchisee built a new restaurant near Heritage Crossing to move the eatery from the 18-year-old building near Walmart, but told a Wilson Times reporter in 2014 that the move lost a few loyal customers and didn’t yield the utility savings he anticipated.

“Golden Corral converted the restaurant into a corporate location on Jan. 22, 2015, and made a significant investment in the operation,” Shani St. John, a Golden Corral Corp. spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the restaurant was still not able to sustain itself.”

Officials declined to comment on how many employees were affected by the closure or when employees were notified, stating efforts were made to connect Wilson employees with positions at locations in other cities.

Good Taste Buffet has operated in Gateway Plaza, between Dunham’s Sports and Hobby Lobby, for nearly two decades, but owner Jim Xiao said he’s struggled as well.

“We never get so busy,” Xiao said. “Right now is slow. This last two years have been very slow.”

The Chinese buffet has a loyal following for lunch and dinner seven days a week, but he said it is tough to get new customers. He said he was stunned to learn of Golden Corral’s closure, noting he went there at least two times a month.

“Business is so, so bad,” he said. “I don’t want Golden Corral to close. I can’t believe it. This is bad news.”

Golden Corral officials encouraged fans to drive to locations in Rocky Mount, Greenville, Kinston and Smithfield.

“If conditions change, we would certainly consider returning to Wilson,” St. John said.

Times Staff Writer Drew C. Wilson contributed to this report.