by Eric Ginsburg

It’s a space that has struggled for years. Millennium Artisan, a pretty impressive restaurant as far as I was concerned, is only the latest business to fail in the spot on the southwestern corner of the intersection of Fourth and Cherry streets in downtown Winston-Salem.

Artisan owner Greg Carlyle plans to re-open the restaurant, though it isn’t clear where and no date is set. In the meantime, 310 A West Fourth Street sits empty.

Maybe fogged glass halfway up the wall of windows would’ve helped fine diners feel a little less like they were part of a window display at the busy intersection, catty corner to Jimmy Johns. Or maybe not. It’s easy to speculate about why any given business didn’t succeed, but when it’s a pattern, something needs to change.

And that change could, and I think should, be Camino Bakery taking over the space.

Every time I go into Camino, it seems, I see half of Winston-Salem. I’m sitting there now as I write this, snacking on a pretty delicious quiche and sipping the Mecktoberfest beer from Charlotte’s Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. And I keep looking up from my computer because people I know are walking by on their way to the counter for coffee or a midafternoon snack.

In other words, it’s popular and there is a diverse set of offerings. Camino also advertises itself as a wine bar, offering specials on Wednesday, wine events and a selection of other adult beverages. There used to be an elderflower mimosa for sale.

Both spaces share an exterior door to Fourth Street, and the doors leading to each venue face each other. It would be easy to make it feel like one continuous space, or to pursue slightly different approaches at each while maintaining a sense of cohesion.

I have no idea if that sort of expansion makes sense for Camino’s long-term plan or finances, or even if founder Cary Clifford would want to take that on. It’s a big space with a full kitchen, after all, and I haven’t asked her about it. But if other ventures in that anchor spot on the corner appear doomed to fail, what better to hold it down than a proven café that exudes a sense of community? There’s already one overflowing next door.

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