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)
Revisions - 10-16-11
The famous cyclist from above
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.
1970 postcard - note the cool original streetside sign