Smiley's Family Restaurant in Porterdale closed down this week, and although owner Gwen Spears hopes to find a new location soon, she may have to relocate to another county.
The southern buffet was another victim of the economic recession, having had decreased sales for the past year and a half. Spears said Wednesday that business had just been picking up again, before the debt she had been accumulating finally caught up.
"I got behind on my rent and had taken so much of my own personal money (to pay bills) I almost lost my house because of it," Spears said. "I would just like to let people know that we appreciate each and every one of them standing behind us. We'll miss them dearly. As soon as something comes available, we have our contact list, we'll sure let them know where we end up."
Spears said she got behind on rent and utility payments, which typically totaled around $5,000 or more and couldn't ever recover. Eventually, her landlord cut off her water, because he had gotten behind of his payments to the bank.
Smiley's first opened on the Covington square in 1994, moving a couple of times in between and finally ending up on Porterdale's main drag, where the buffet has been for the last four years. Spears said she hasn't been able to find another suitable location in the Covington area, and may have to settle in Conyers or McDonough.
"I don't need to stay out of work too long, because I have a lot of responsibilities. It's like losing part of our family, our customers stood behind us like family. You grow to love people like that," she said.