After being a staple in the community for three decades, the K&W Cafeteria at 1215 W Main Street has officially closed its doors. Fully aware of the impact that this will have, K&W President Dax Allred has a message for the community.
In a statement released to the Salem Times-Register, Allred said, “I want to extend a heartfelt thank you for all of the support the Salem community has shown over the years. I am keenly aware that people rely on K&W for far more than just the quality food that we provide. For many, a visit to K&W is a social hour.”
He continued, “When our lease expired at the end of January, we were in a predicament with the landlord and were forced to make a difficult decision. It is my sincere hope that the sense of community that Salem fostered will find that same welcoming community at our Crossroads location. I want you guys to know that we did not come to this decision lightly.”
News of the sudden closing saddened many local and area residents like Roanoke County native Keisha Smith. The first time she ate at the Salem K&W Cafeteria was when her entire family gathered for her middle school graduation in 1998. Today, her love of K&W is shared with her own two children, Kapri, nine, and Kevin, seven.
“I’ll never forget the first time that I ate there. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I had family travel from out of state just to be present for my graduation. I ordered some mashed potatoes, shrimp, fries in addition to some garlic bread and everything was beyond delicious,” Smith said. “From that moment on, my family regularly visited the establishment, a tradition that I will continue with my own family.”
Salem native Otis Johnson, 79, said he didn’t know the restaurant was closed until he and some friends met there for breakfast a few weeks ago, something he has done for years. “K&W has the type of atmosphere where you can let your hair down and just relax. Since the Salem restaurant is closed, we will continue our gatherings at their other locations,” Johnson said.
Some of the biggest decisions of Cindy Pham’s life made were at the Salem K&W Cafeteria: which outfit should she wear to prom, the college she would attend and whether or not entering the medical field was the right career move for her. When asked what she will miss most about the Salem K&W Cafeteria, Pham, 41, said, “Everything from the polite cashiers to the delicious food to the sense of community togetherness. While disappointed, I understand why tough decisions have to be made.”
Headquartered in Winston Salem, N.C., K&W is a family-owned chain that employs approximately 2,500 people throughout South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
“Back in September, in the midst of the pandemic, K&W filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. We are now on track to exit bankruptcy later this year. When that happens, we will be able to operate debt-free and cash flow positive for the first time in a long time,” said Dax, the grandson of K&W founder Grady Allred Sr.
He continued, “As part of our restructuring, we have to focus our efforts and resources we have on those locations that are the highest performing ones. Those who dine with us have done so for generations. We love that we serve as an extended family to so many.”