Monday, March 31, 2008


1980 photo

Recent photo--currently occupied by a law office

Lunch menu

Dinner menu

Located at 602 E. Morehead St, Stonehenge Restaurant opened in July 1975 in a unique house built in 1914 that overlooked downtown Charlotte. Brothers Vince and Gary Walker along with fellow Harding High graduate Mike Farmer bought the house in 1974 for $65,000 and began the process of converting the old house into a 50-seat restaurant. In addition to a great casual menu, Stonehenge was known for its interior that featured polished exposed beams, stained glass windows, and antiques, as well as the restaurant's striking gothic baptismal font. Stonehenge closed five years later in October 1980. Though the restaurant was a success, a constant high turnover of the staff in addition to eight robberies (the last robbery being particularly violent) led the partners to close the restaurant for good.

Shakey's Pizza

1968 ad

1968 ad

1970 ad

Former Shakey's location on Independence Blvd

Former South Blvd location

Ad with a sketch of the famous street-side sign

One of the many signs that dotted the walls

The Shakey "Pledge of Allegiance"

1970 Shakey's Commercial

Shakey's Pizza arrived in Charlotte in the late-60's. Charlotte was home to two locations--the Independence Blvd location opened in 1967 and the South Blvd location opened in 1965. They immediately became popular with families for their great pizza, large pitchers of beer, and the unique live Dixieland band that featured banjos and pianos. Who could forget the trademark red and white striped uniforms and straw hats worn by the servers? Kids also loved Shakey's for the picture window that looked into the prep area (you had to go up a little ramp to a bridge) that allowed you to watch the pizzas being assembled (I always remember the giant paint brushes that were used to put the sauce on the dough). Shakey's pub atmosphere (including neat stained glass windows) allowed them to compete successfully with the other pizza chains in town (Pizza Hut, Godfathers). Shakey's continued their run in Charlotte through the early-80's when both locations would close for good.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Sandpiper

1980 interior shot

Late-'70's ad

In a town dominated by fried seafood restaurants, the Sandpiper was a breath of fresh air. Opened in the mid-70's by legendary Charlotte restauranteur Pete Politis, The Sandpiper specialized primarily in broiled seafood. The Sandpiper was on Independence Blvd on the edge of Matthews (in the '70's, this stretch of Independence was fairly desolate--quite the opposite of today) and stayed in business thorough the mid-'80's. Certainly not one of Charlotte's most famous eateries, but The Sandpiper developed a devoted following during its relatively short-run.

REVISIONS-- 8-2-2008

1976 ad

1986 ad

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Late-'60's coffee shop menu (courtesy of Steve Balsley--thanks!!!)

Entrance to Ivey's Tulip Terrace

Entrance to Ivey's from N Tryon St

Belk's had two cafeterias and a lunch counter, Tanner's had hot dogs and peanuts, but for a true lunch experience, the Ivey's Tulip Terrace was the place to eat. 

Tucked away on the fourth level of the Ivey's downtown store, the atmosphere of the Tulip Terrace was a little formal, the mood was slightly elegant, and the food was wonderful. The restaurant was a very bright and attractive room with large windows overlooking the churchyard next door and was only open for lunch. One of the most famous dishes was the deep-dish turkey pie with a homemade pastry crust. They also had the standard sandwiches and salads in addition to full-sized meals (like fried flounder and roast beef with a baked potato). The homemade strawberry pie and cinnamon ice cream were also favorites. 

On the lower level of Ivey's was the Coffee Shop. A destination for a quick, affordable lunch bite, snack, or dessert. The Coffee Shop would run until 1973, when Arthur's would move across 5th Street into Ivey's and take over the space.

Ivey's closed in the late-'80's, closing a chapter on downtown shopping (and dining).


November 1960 ad promoting the first area McDonald's

Charlotte's first McDonald's on Independence Blvd opened in 1959

Currently the oldest McD's still in business in the city opened in 1963 on Freedom Dr

Now the Clock Restaurant, this McD's opened in 1969 on South Blvd

No more burgers at the former N Tryon McD's location which opened in 1970

Former Independence Blvd location which opened in 1971

The Albemarle Rd location opened in 1973

Former Milton Rd location which opened in 1974

Summer 1978 saw the opening of McD's in the Overstreet Mall

When McDonald's opened in the Overstreet Mall in 1978, there were only seven other McDonald's in Charlotte (and the Overstreet location was the first (and only) downtown location). McDonald's were not on every corner (or in gas stations and big-box stores) but were strategically located in pivotal areas of the city. Portions were smaller and the food, though not healthy, was not as bad for you as it is today. 

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Little Italy **FAREWELL!!!**

1975 ad1990 ad

Another great street-side sign

Exterior has changed little over the years

Front door

One of three dining rooms

Stuffed birds on the wall add to the decor

As well as these guys...

Ivy gives the room some green

The ceiling looks like meringue

Meringue close-up

Second main dining room

Wall wood paneling always adds the right ambience

Lots of different items on the mantle

The famous "egg-shell carton" ceiling

Another ceiling view

Center dining room with the bar in the back

Another of Charlotte's legendary restaurants is closing. It was announced this week that Little Italy on Central Avenue will close on March 22. Owner John Caltis opened for business in January 1959. Originally the restaurant was called KC Drive-In Restaurant. It was a drive-in and specialized in breakfast and lunch. In 1967, the restaurant expanded, a bar was added, and the place was renamed Little Italy (and the Italian menu was introduced). While business boomed through the '90's, the last decade has been tough for the restaurant (and surrounding area). Caltis has sold the land to new developers who plan on tearing down the existing structure and opening a new restaurant. Little Italy has always been a stand-out for great home-cooked Italian fare. Thanks to Little Italy for all of the memories! You will be missed!