The Blue Ridge Artisan Center and The Artisan Café in The 1915 building on Main Street, Wilkesboro, are both closing their doors to walk-in traffic after nearly a year declining business due to the pandemic, according to a press release issued by the owners Tuesday.

The press release said Artisan Center saw a decrease in sales of 62% and the Café business declined 50% in 2020.

“We truly appreciate all the support that our neighbors gave us during this unprecedented time”, said Michelle Isom, co-owner of The 1915. “We tried several different business models during this time period in hopes of finding some way to continue to serve Wilkes, but nothing we did seemed to provide a means to succeed.”

The Artisan Café discontinued its daily restaurant operations on Jan. 1, 2021, and plans to continue providing catering services for events at The 1915. The Blue Ridge Artisan Center will close its doors on Feb. 13. The 1915 will continue to hold Artisan Markets for the Blue Ridge Artisan Guild to support local crafts people and provide them with a location to demonstrate their skills and sell their creations.

The release said one part of The 1915’s business that has continued to grow and prosper during the pandemic is private and community events like weddings and receptions, reunions and parties.

Meeting and wedding business nearly doubled during 2020 and would have grown even more if COVID-19 hadn’t entered the picture, the release stated. The Isoms plan to continue to use the facility for these purposes and hope to grow it to become a premier regional boutique wedding venue.

“We see the need for a great location for gatherings and The 1915 is unlike any other building in our region. We have hosted lots of weddings and receptions over the last three years and we hear wonderful stories from our guests”, said Dale Isom, co-owner. “Additionally, we are currently working to add a new outdoor venue beside The 1915 to accommodate outdoor gatherings of all types.”

“Our original vision of being a place for the arts, for community gatherings and great food will continue, just in a different format,” said Caitlen Wurdeman, 1915 manager. “Once we receive the ‘all clear’ from our governor, we plan to resume our monthly Contra dances and live music concerts. We believe the need for being together is greater now than it has ever been.”

Artisans with merchandise in The Blue Ridge Artisan Center have been notified of the changes and will be removing their items prior to Feb. 13. “It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with artisans from Wilkes and the surrounding counties for the last three years,” said Michelle Isom.

“While we are a bit disappointed and maybe even a bit heartbroken that COVID-19 has impacted our dreams for The 1915, we are committed to seeing great things come to downtown Wilkesboro through this facility.”

Those interested in booking the venue for an event or wanting to discuss catering are asked to reach out to Caitlen Wurdeman at The1915Events@gmail.com.

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