Carlisle cafe closes amidst changing restaurant landscape

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – One door has closed and another has opened in the restaurant business. It’s a common story, most recently with a staple in downtown Carlisle.

“Thirty-one years is a long time to be in business,” Anna Seras said. “In 1978, we bought the building.”

The Back Door Cafe is a spot you probably know, but Seras knows every nook and cranny.

“Just an adventure,” she said about when their family bought it. “It was fun, fun, fun.”

“I’d be here all the time with my brother,” granddaughter Alexa chimed in.

“She would follow me and I’d say, ‘wipe the table’,” Seras said.

The business was shared by three generations, but its owners say it’s time to retire. The building is getting a fresh coat of paint and a fresh start come mid-July.

“We are going to call it Grazery,” said Maria Ntzanis, the new owner. “There’s going to be a lot of Mediterranean flavors because that’s what I’m familiar with.”

Ntzanis, who lived in Greece for 12 years, is sharing her culture. Though she may not know it, that’s in part thanks to her predecessors.

Jonathan Bowser, CEO of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation, says the restaurant industry in Carlisle has been progressing since the 70s when the Seras family opened The Back Door.

“They have paved that way for having different dining experiences that the community has really bought into,” Bowser said. “A lot of the community members really have a more global perspective due to that military background.”

The Back Door Cafe’s last owner, Bill Seras, says his generation paved the path for a restaurant renaissance in Carlisle.

“We’re trying to do fresh and as fast as fresh can be,” said Ntzanis, who added that’s what the younger generation wants.

Bowser says all Carlisle restaurants that have closed also reopened.

“We have a lot of restaurants that have one location opening up a second location or multiple,” he said.

The food service is now a leading industry in Carlisle, according to Data USA.

Its legacy and its future are side-by-side.

“This is the generation now,” Anna Seras said, pointing at her granddaughter.

“So my brother and I are going to continue working for the next owners, which is awesome,” Alexa said.

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