CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — What was once a thriving small business plaza has turned into a ghost town with stores sitting empty.
A Publix is set to take over the Huguenot Village Shopping Center, forcing many small businesses to relocate or close, including staple Italian restaurant Candela’s.
Candela’s Pizzeria & Ristorante Italiano has been nestled in the back of the shopping center for almost 25 years.
“You know we’ve had families coming here for decades even more,” Candela’s owner Rocco Demasi said. “It’s been a ball.”
Demasi told 8News customers to them are like family.
“Overwhelming. Yes. Because I’ve seen these people all along for 23 years,” Demasi said.
The restaurant is family run by Demasi and his wife along with his sister-in-law Anna.
“A shock and impact,” Anna Candela said. “We’ve been here for that many years. We’ve built up our customers.”
The business along with customers are feeling the effects of the Publix moving in. Customers have begun to write messages on the walls and in a notebook to tell the restaurant how much they are loved and appreciated.
One regular told 8News he will miss the vibe of Candela’s.
“That makes it more interesting more fun than a chain store sure,” Michael Flynn said. “And I’m going to miss the ambiance right here, the venue that they have.”
Candela’s will be relocating just a few feet away along Robious Road. However, the new building will not be ready until the fall.
Publix has set the move out date for July 26. Candela’s will be closed for at least a month.
“I understand people want convenience. They want the savings,” Demasi said. “But you know sometimes shopping local leaves you know revenues and everything in where you live and help your community.”
8News reached out to Publix about the project but has not heard back. To stay updated on Candela’s move check out their Facebook page here.