After closing their restaurant, the Grangers are busy preparing to open Outfitters Mercantile

After operating Outfitters Steaks and Seafood for the past year and a half, owners Tom and Pam Granger recently made the difficult decision to shutter the restaurant.

While they had been open at 50 percent capacity, per the state guidelines, the Grangers ultimately felt that with so much uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, operating the business simply wasn’t sustainable anymore. The restaurant, located at 805 W. Main St., Locust, officially closed Sept. 12.

Tom said some of the impacts of the pandemic were the rising cost of commodities and the shortage and increasing price of beef. He added that restaurants already have small margins and the cost increases really hurt the business.

“We stuck it out as long as we could…we just didn’t see it (the pandemic) changing anytime soon,” Pam said.

“It was everything we wanted and more,” Pam said about the restaurant. “We have some great friends that we met through the restaurant and we had tremendous support from the community.”

Pam added that she went through a grieving process after the restaurant closed because it had meant so much to her and Tom, especially the staff who became a second family to them.

But while Outfitters, the restaurant, is no more, the name will continue to exist — just in a different capacity.

With all the work that had gone into the property before the restaurant opened last March, “we decided rather than lose everything we’ve put into this, let’s change direction,” Pam said.

So after much prayer and deliberation, the Grangers have spent the past few weeks transitioning to a new business endeavor. The couple is planning to open a boutique clothing shop called Outfitters Mercantile sometime in October.

While the Grangers are anxious about creating a new business, they are also very excited.

“It’s been my dream for probably 20 years to have a retail store,” Pam said.

The original plan, formulated about a year ago, was to open a boutique shop inside of the restaurant, but the pandemic changed things.

While the new business will keep some of the restaurant’s same rustic decor, including the deer heads and the stuffed elk, Outfitters Mercantile will cater towards women and will reflect Pam’s fashion style and background.

“It will be a little Texas, a little hippie, a little shabby chic,” said Pam, who came to North Carolina with her husband from San Angelo, Texas a few months before they opened the restaurant. “We just want people to have a unique shopping experience when they step through the doors.”

Customers can expect Texas-inspired clothing like corral boots along with casual items like ball caps.

The store will feature a diverse collection of women’s apparel, including corral boots, flare bottom jeans and ball caps, though there will be some men’s clothing as well. Mercantile will also carry clothing from the Oakboro-based company Bucketmouth Brand. There will also be an assortment of other household items including jewelry, candles, blankets, purses and cowhide rugs.

Outfitters Mercantile will feature an assortment of jewelry and handbags.

The restaurant’s bar will remain in place so people can grab a beer or wine to compliment their shopping experience. The Grangers have also retained their food and liquor licenses so they can have the ability to cater and host small events.

The Grangers already have an Outfitters Mercantile Facebook page and Instagram account and they are in the process of creating a website. She also plans to conduct a lot of online sales once the store opens in a few weeks.

While the couple still mourns the loss of their restaurant, they are happy to have the chance to begin again with another passion project.

“I didn’t want to pack up my bags and go back to Texas,” Pam said, adding that the past few weeks have “been a time to be innovative and try something new.”