One of Atlanta’s first all-vegetarian restaurants has closed the oldest of its two locations.
Cafe Sunflower owner Jenny Sun penned an announcement on the restaurant’s Facebook page that the Sandy Springs eatery has closed after 25 years.
All good things must come to an end.
Cafe Sunflower has been my family’s livelihood for over the past two decades.
My parents, Lin and Edward, started their careers in the restaurant business in the mid-70s after immigrating to the U.S. from Taiwan.
Cafe Sunflower was born in 1994.
The community didn’t know what to make of a vegetarian restaurant then.
We had a few initial customers, and some customers saw our Asian faces and made assumptions about the food and never tried it.
It was through sheer luck and enormous amounts of grit that Cafe Sunflower began receiving recognition in Sandy Springs.
Being voted Best Vegetarian and eventually Best Vegan was a nice pat on the back for the effort my parents and our staff put into the restaurant.
But even better was seeing a community of customers grow along with our business, all sharing in a passion for tasty vegan cuisine. (We see some of you three times a week!)
It was through that support that my parents were able to employ a staff of nearly 30 and put three kids through college.
Operating a restaurant is a 24-7 job. Things are constantly needing to be fixed, vendors can’t come through with produce, burglaries happen.
Through all of these things and more, Lin and Edward were able to sustain not only one, but two vegan restaurants in Atlanta.
Then came 2020.
We were into our busiest season when the pandemic hit. As with so many others, our business was mostly obliterated.
Difficult choices were made.
Employees - some who had been with us for decades - had to be laid off.
Now comes the hardest choice in these bleak times: we can only save one restaurant.
Today, it is with great sadness and difficulty that I let you know that our Sandy Springs restaurant will be closed permanently.
I know many of you have had special moments here, because we celebrated them with you: first dates, engagements, birthday parties, baby showers, and wedding receptions.
We have been so deeply honored to be a part of the Sandy Springs community for the past 25 years, and it is beyond difficult for us to say goodbye.
There is a lot of uncertainty ahead, but we’re still fighting!
All of our energy is now going into our Buckhead location, and with that, I ask that our beloved Sandy Springs community continue to support us there in any way that you can.
We want to thank you again for all that you’ve done for our family, and for the families of our staff.
“Both of our restaurants have suffered tremendous losses,” Sun told the AJC in an email. “Overnight, our business at Sandy Springs declined over 90%. Buckhead has been at 80%. We had to make the difficult financial decision to close Sandy Springs and focus all of our efforts into our remaining restaurant. Our loyal customers from Sandy Springs have already begun supporting us at our Buckhead restaurant.”
The restaurant has adjusted its hours at its Buckhead location, serving lunch and dinner every day from 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., with brunch being served on Sunday.
Sun said Cafe Sunflower hopes to open its dining room “once it is safe and our staff is trained and prepared.” In the meantime, the restaurant will offer takeout and delivery.
Cafe Sunflower is the latest metro Atlanta restaurant closure since the coronavirus hit the U.S. Other recent closures include Cacao Cafe, Blaxican and Panahar Bangladeshi Cuisine. Rathbun’s and Krog Bar in Inman Park permanently closed this week due to lease issues.
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