Running a small business is tough, doubly so if the business is a restaurant.

Shantell Williams knows that first hand. Her critically-acclaimed restaurant, Shantell’s Cafe, is closing July 20. There was no one reason for the decision.

Opened in late 2013, the restaurant made money, but things were always tight, especially in the summer months.

Plus, as any business owner knows, much of your day is spent as an administrator.

Shantells-Chickwaff-
Shantell’s famous chicken and waffles.

“I love people, I love to cook, but I am spending so much time on the business side that I’m not doing what I really love,” Shantell said.

She also believes changing locations hurt business. The move was simply from the west side of the street to the east side (406 S. Sanford Ave. to 417 S. Sanford Ave.), but the new space gave the restaurant a totally different feel.

When the restaurant originally opened, rare was the time you were not greeted with a big hug from the Lady herself. The diner-style kitchen layout allowed Shantell to cook, serve customers at the bar and banter with patrons sitting at high tops, all without missing a beat.

Frankly, Shantell’s outgoing, we’re-all-family personality was as much a reason for her success as the fantastic food.

At the new location, The kitchen is hidden in the back away from customers, which killed the energy Shantell brings to a room.

“I love interacting with customers, but I just don’t get to do that much here,” she said. “I try to get out in the dining room as much as I can, but I miss a lot of people because they’ve already eaten and are gone.”

Shantell said the decision to close is a sad one, however she’s not spending much time pining away for the past.

“The restaurant is closing, but i’ll keep cooking. I am going to focus on my catering business,” she said. “Plus, I only live four minutes away from the restaurant. You will see me in downtown Sanford, I’ll just have more time with my children and my fiancé, Cobbin.”

“And if you really miss my cooking that much, you can hire me to be your personal chef,” she said with her typical boisterous laugh.

Shantell said she may even attempt to do the occasional pop-up restaurant, a concept that involves pre-selling tickets to a fixed-menu dinner on a single night.

“You just never know what I might do,” she said.

As is Shantell’s way, her final night on July 20 will be a party.

“I don’t have a lot of details, but you know we’re going to have fun,” she said.

We always do Shantell, that’s why we love you.

– by Dan Ping

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