All I had to go on was one sentence on a yellow post-in note.
An area restaurant closed? Please check.
No name, no phone number, no clue where the information came from. I recognized the editor’s handwriting but go figure, he’s off today.
When the phone number for the restaurant didn’t work I knew it did actually have to be closed, but that’s not enough information for a story. I couldn’t find numbers for the management / owners.
And so finally, after lunch, I drove the few blocks to the restaurant to see what I could find.
There’s a yellow piece of paper taped to the door, with a short message scrawled in sharpie: “Closed for repairs.”
No explanation, no re-opening date.
I pulled on the door just in case it was open, in case someone was inside repairing: no luck.
“They’re not there!”
The man across the street, who owns the garage and car shop, walked out from between two vehicles with a drill in his hand.
I crossed the parking lot and he met me halfway.
And in two minutes I’d learned that it was indeed closed, that the owners were not who I thought they were, and the name of the person I really needed to call.
The story’s still struggling; people are never as excited to talk about a business closing as one opening. But at least I know who I need to talk to.
And driving back just five minutes later I remembered: stepping away from the computer and the phone really does pay off.