More than a half century of satisfied appetites are done at Carver's

Jul. 16, 2013 @ 05:57 PM

Carver’s is closed for good, leaving Henderson bereft of a family-owned eatery that provided hometown friendship around a scratch-made but quick lunch or dinner, filling nearly 60 years of local history.

A letter posted in owner Dave Carver’s name, tacked to the inside of several windows at the Raleigh Road location, let customers, including long-time regulars, know: Carver’s had a “great and long run of restaurant operations in our home town of Henderson.”

Carver said closing the remaining location and saying goodbye to about 20 employees came down to his own aging logistics.

“I grew up with it,” Carver said. “My parents have died, my brother retired, and I was the last Carver standing. Then I retired. It was just time. I couldn’t give it the time it required.”

Carver added the end came in much the same family-style way that they ran the restaurant, keeping everyone close for one last day.

“Our last day open was Saturday, and we closed that evening,” Carver said, adding that the employees all got together also. “We did that on Sunday.”

The Carvers have their two out-parcel properties available for sale, the second at 1620 N. Garnett St., that closed operations in late 2011. There has been some interest in both locations, but whether restaurants or other kinds of retail shopping will come is not known.

“You never know until the deal is struck,” Carver said.

In his letter, Carver thanked “our loyal customers” and regretted that the old restaurant legacy that came to Henderson in 1954 would be gone. The fellowship from being a dining choice in Henderson now ends.

“We will miss both our employees and our friends who dined with us so regularly, but wish only the best to everyone,” Carver wrote.

The North Garnett Street location closed in December 2011, soon after a particularly frightening robbery incident. Carver said that was not simply cause-and-effect.

Business at the northern location had been thinning, and the robbery provided a catalyst to close and consolidate to the one remaining location.

Other factors included the passing of store co-founder Hazel Carver about two months before the robbery. She and husband Bob Carver, who died in 1994, were the mom and dad to the Carver family business venture that began in Roanoke Rapids as a Tastee Freez franchise in 1953.

A North Garnett Street Tastee Freez opened in Henderson the next year, then two updated Tastee Freez locations replaced that one with another nearby and a second location on Raleigh Road in 1973 and 1974.

The area of the first location is now used as a parking lot on the south side of North Henderson Baptist Church on North Garnett.

With the decline of the Tastee Freez franchise brand, the Carvers went through a transition period in the 1990s that resulted in switching the restaurants to their own name brand and quitting from two locations they ran outside of Henderson.

Carver said a hallmark for the family business was fresh preparation of ingredients, giving more of a home-style spin to their offerings. He said other than that, it was normal Americana style food; no secret family recipes were ever involved.

Carver’s employed 30 to 40 people during summer operations when running the two locations in Henderson.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.