A Carbondale restaurant closed their doors for the final time last night.
The Mississippi Flyway ended their 31-year-run Sunday night, and Flyway owner Frank Hiller Sr. says they’ve been packed since the news originally broke about their closing last week, seeing customers they haven’t seen in years. But it was too little, too late.
"It just costs too much to stay afloat anymore," Hiller says about his former restaurant, which started facing tough times four years ago. "We worked day and night for nothing, basically."
Carbondale officials say that the town’s sales tax revenue went up in 2012, but Hiller says that’s because of franchises and chain restaurants, not local businesses. The Flyway is one of a few businesses that have closed in Carbondale in the past few months, including El Bajio Mexican Restaurant and Gatsby's Bar and Billiards.
Down the line, if Hiller ever considers opening another restaurant in the future, he says it won’t be in Carbondale.
"Just look at Marion. You can't even get in to a restaurant over there," Hiller says. "They open their arms for new business. They aren't really like that in Carbondale. They make it harder and harder every day to survive in this town."
Hiller says a decline in business among their key demographic, which is older residents in the area, also helped put the final nail in the coffin. He says that most of the businesses on the west side of Carbondale have problems bringing in students because students tend to stay near campus and the bar scene.
Hiller and other employees will be cleaning out the restaurant over the next week or two, including the dozens of wall fixtures collected over the years from customers, friends and Hiller's own personal collection.