Crady’s Eclectic Cuisine in downtown Conway closed its doors last week, according to a news release.
“July 6 was one of the hardest days of my life,” said Barbara Whitley, the owner of the restaurant that was a Conway icon for nearly sixteen years.
“How do you tell twelve trusted employees, who are just like family, that they are now unemployed?” she asked. “And how do you say goodbye to something that has been a part of your daily routine for almost two decades?”
Barbara, along with her now deceased son, Adam, opened Crady’s in 2001 as a small coffee shop, the release says. They watched it grow together into a restaurant that received local praise and accolades from food critics nationwide.
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Crady’s was known for its “farm-to-table” freshness and desserts that have been featured on the cover of magazines and became one of the area’s most popular caterers, the release states.
The restaurant has also always been family-owned and family-ran. While Barbara did all of the baking, her daughter Heather handled the day-to-day operations. Barbara’s husband, Les, handled the upkeep of the restaurant and also decorated cakes and made deliveries, according to the release.
Although everything at Crady’s appeared to be going well, it was another story behind-the-scenes.
“Like many small businesses we have been strangled by taxes, increased labor costs and the rising costs of products and services—in our case, food costs.” Barbara explained. “The harder we tried, the deeper in debt we became. Six months ago, we received a blessing in the form of a young couple, the Conways, who agreed to purchase Crady’s on a lease-buy arrangement.”
The release says that unfortunately, that too fell through when they saw the insurmountable task of running a small and successful restaurant.
“I am proud to say that although we have faced some tough times, we have held our heads high, we have paid our employees fairly and on time, and we never faltered in the quality of food we have served,” Barbara said.
Even though the restaurant is now closed, Barbara’s love for baking won’t end.
“It’s all been a labor of love and I will miss it,” she said. “Those who know me, know that I have a passion for baking. That passion will never end. I am also a woman of great faith. I know that when one door closes, another opens. I am waiting for God to show me the way, and I know he will.”
Michaela Broyles, 843-626-0281, @MichaelaBroyles