Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Open Kitchen **HALL OF FAME EATERY**

1962 ad

1969 ad

1973 ad

mid-'70's ad

1975 ad1980 ad (courtesy of Jeff McEwen)

1983 ad

1985 ad

1961 interior shot

1972 photo of the entry area

Behind the register in this 1992 photo

1992 dining room shot

1989 postcard of the exterior

Close-up of the sign on the front of the building

Front of the building hasn't changed throughout the years (photo courtesy of David at Groceteria)

Only a 1/2 mile from downtown
The famous cyclist from above

The dining rooms have not changed at all

Back dining room with statues

Tour posters and an old photo of Charlotte on the walls

The wall of celebrity guests-- see anyone famous?

Close-up of the celebrity wall

Ornate decorations are everywhere

Original 1963 menu

A wall of pennants behind wrought-iron trim

More pennants

A collage of buttons

Original tray from the car-hop days

The Star Lunch in 1925 was an early family-run downtown restaurant

Message above the doors as you enter

Guard standing at attention as you enter

The Open Kitchen was opened in 1952 by Speros Kokenes. At the time it was a hamburger drive-in with curb service only. Speros' brother Steve joined him in 1955 and began the conversion to the indoor Italian restaurant as its known today. It was called the Open Kitchen because customers were invited to walk into the kitchen at any time.

The Open Kitchen introduced Charlotte to the first pizza and the first Greek salad. The restaurant has also always been known for its eclectic interior decor--travel posters, flags, wrought-iron, plastic statues, mirrors, Mexican tiles, red and white checked tablecloths, college pennants, and an large wooden octagonal chandelier in the front dining-room. Also famous is the miniature cyclist that peddles across a high wire above the heads of diners (added in 1958, originally it was a peddling monkey, then a man, now a bear). Above the register is a collage of various celebrities who have dined at the Open Kitchen and left a signed 8 X 10 photo (Pat Boone, Charles Kuralt, Vincent Price, and Gary Sandy (of "WKRP in Cincinnati" fame) among others).

Despite bring located in a heavy-industrial district about a half mile west of downtown, the Open Kitchen has become a Charlotte institution and continues to flourish.

Revisions - 10-16-11
1965 ad

1967 ad

1968 photo

1969 ad

1970 postcard - note the cool original streetside sign


  1. Every time I drive down Morehead I wonder about this place...I guess one of these days I'll actually have to stop in!

    And I think you described the area pretty well...

  2. Thanks! I do recommend the pizza--very good and very unique. The other pasta dishes are fairly typical. Of course, the ambience is the main reason to go.

    The area is slowly starting to rebound. Some new construction in the neighborhood behind the restaurant and some "scrubbing" of Morehead towards the stadium are all helping.

  3. I have been going to the Open Kitchen for at least 25 years now- The Open Kitchen Sub is my favorite- Consistantly excellent- Thanks to Christina and Alex for great food at a great price- David H.

  4. I have been going to the Open Kitchen since 1960. Back then I could fill my 1954 Chevy with gas, pick up my date, drive from Gastonia to the Open Kitchen for dinner and then a movie at the Carolina Theater and would not even spend $10.00.
    Many wonderful memories there.

  5. My dad (Bill Greene) did the mural upstairs---!

  6. Never lived in Charlotte but visited my grand parents there many times. Always went to The Open Kitchen- this place introduced me to Italian food 50 years ago! I live 200 miles from there, but always try to go back when I'm around Charlotte.

  7. Great memories from here, more from the decor than the food!