Popular Sweet Auburn restaurant to close due to COVID-19, violence

ATLANTA — After five years, a staple in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood is set to close its doors this month.

Channel 2′s Audrey Washington was on Auburn Ave. in downtown Atlanta, where the owner of Sweet Auburn Seafood said COVID-19 and violence in the area are to blame.

Patrick Williams owns the restaurant with his father, who died a few weeks ago. It was another huge blow to this already hard-hit restaurant.

Sweet Auburn Seafood is a staple in the community and an anchor restaurant among all the other restaurants on the street.

“Coming here five years ago just seeing the growth and the potential that it does have, we put everything into it as far as making it a great location,” Williams said. “People from around the world talk about Sweet Auburn Seafood, and then you have your own city that’s not rallying behind you.”

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But last month, there were several shootings in the area the weekend of July 4. Two people were killed that weekend just steps from the front door.

Williams said dine-in business as already down due to COVID-19, but the uptick in crime made it difficult to operate safely.

“You got people hounding you and harassing you and then you hear the stories of deaths and shootouts,” Williams said.

Many restaurant and business owners said the area needs a larger police presence to crack down on illegal car clubs that come into Sweet Auburn.

Ryan Buchanan, who owns Noni’s on Edgewood, said the are needs a pedestrian zone that is free of cars.

“When you have cars coming though, that brings cruising, people selling stuff out the trunks of their cars and crowds forming that are stagnate,” Buchanan said. “That leads to fights and gunshots.”

Williams said he plans to close August 31, but said if crime goes down and depending on the state of COVID-19, he may consider reopening next year at a nearby location.

“We’re not going to give up on Sweet Auburn.”