Saturday, May 31, 2008

"Under New Management" #3 - Credit Quick/Bojangles'

Look close--you can see the orange color bleeding through the light blue on the awnings

Bojangles' #1 on West Blvd as it looked in 1977

The first Bojangles' was opened in Charlotte in 1977 on West Blvd by Richard Thomas and Jack Fulk. Featuring distinctive, flavorful chicken and buttermilk biscuits, the restaurant was an instant hit and has grown into a popular East coast chain along with locations in Mexico and Honduras.

As rare as it is to see a location close, the "Credit Quick" on South Blvd is a unique example. Originally a standard Bojangles' restaurant, this one became "Bojangles' University" and was Bojangles' primary training facility until 2002. Other than replacing the signature orange-color with light blue (and not very well), this building is easily identified as being a former member of the Bojangles' family.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mecklenburg Declaration Anniversary!

This Tuesday (May 20) marks the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Mecklenburg County was the first area of the thirteen colonies to declare its independence from Great Britain (Rhode Island would be second but not for almost a year later-May 2, 1776). 

The ads above are from the Bicentennial of 1975.

Happy Anniversary!

Friday, May 16, 2008


1969 ad

Summer 1981 ad

1982 ad

1971 exterior photo

Late-90's photo of the empty building (it's now a used car lot)

Opened in the early-60's, Pedro's was Charlotte's first full-service sit-down Mexican restaurant. Located at the (then) outskirts of town, Pedro's offered a dining experience unlike anything else at the time in Charlotte.

Pedro's was operated and owned by Pedro Osornio. He also had a location in Fayetteville which was run by his brother. Though by today's standards, the menu was standard Mexican fare, during the '60's and '70's it was an unusual dining experience in the area.

The interior featured everything from a large fountain in the center of the dining room to a large fireplace on one main wall. A mix of statues and tons of large plants and cactus decorated the restaurant. Minimal lighting was provided by both antique chandeliers as well as candles on every table. The dark red walls also added to the dark ambiance. The exterior was a combination of rough brick and stucco, highlighted with hacienda-like archways.

Pedro's would continue until the mid-80's. The Osornio family would reappear in the late-90's when they opened a short-lived restaurant in downtown Matthews (Cactus Rose). They would also (for a short time during this same time period) put on a Mexican buffet on Saturday nights at the Country Inn of Matthews.

REVISIONS-- 8-2-2008
1978 ad

Mr. C's

Early '60's ad for George's dad's restaurant

1968 ad for Mr. C's

1978 ad for Mr. C's Grand Central

Another 1978 ad (the "Super C" continues its popularity today at Showmar's)

1979 picture of Mr. C's Grand Central

mid-70's menu for the downtown location of Mr. C's

1978 menu for Mr. C's Grand Central

The original Mr. C's on Monroe Rd.

George (far right) with family in front of Johnny's Grill in 1953

George and wife, Helen, in the early '70's

Recent photo of George at Showmar's at the East Blvd. location

George Couchell is the "C" in Mr. C's. He has spent almost his entire life involved in Charlotte restaurants. Not only is he an American success story, he is a Charlotte success story as well.

When George was twelve, his father opened Johnny's Grill in the early '50's on Monroe Rd (an early forerunner to the famous Gus' Sir Beef). A family affair, George was the carhop and ran orders from the kitchen to awaiting cars parked at the drive-in. The restaurant was so popular, George was allowed by his school principal to leave school during the day to help at the restaurant.

With restaurants in his blood, George opened Mr. C's Southern Country Chicken on Monroe Rd. in 1967.  The restaurant was so successful with its fried chicken, fish, and pizza that he opened two more locations within the next six months. Eventually, he would also have locations in downtown, near UNCC, and (his biggest venture) a full sit-down restaurant near Eastland Mall.

In the early '80's, with diners looking for more healthy alternatives, George overhauled his UNCC location and revamped the menu and gave the eatery a new name--Showmar's (named after his bookkeeper). Showmar's continues to grow to this day and currently has over twenty locations throughout Charlotte and its neighboring communities. George has found a niche with Showmar's by offering a bridge between fast food and full-service restaurants. Showmar's menu includes many items made famous at Mr. C's along with Greek specialities and their famous pita burgers and sandwiches. 

REVISIONS-- 8-2-2008

1975 photo of the UNCC location

1975 ad

REVISIONS -- 8/9/2008

1976 photo of the entrance inside the Northwestern Bank Building

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Outrigger Seafood

Based out of North Myrtle Beach, Outrigger Seafood opened a second location in the Southpark area in 1991. This was during the height of Charlotte Hornets-mania and restaurant (and team) owner George Schinn sought to capitalize on the popularity of his basketball team franchise with the opening of his restaurant.

Outrigger was a combination of several different concepts. It was part beach-themed fish camp--with tons of fried seafood, a salad bar, and (actually very good) hushpuppies. It also featured a fairly-upscale decor with white linens, formal servers, and lots of deep green and wood-tones. They also featured fresh fish (some unique like cobia) prepared in a number of non-fried ways (grilled, broiled, sauteed, poached, blackened).

Though popular at first, the restaurant ultimately failed within a few short years. Causes included its hard-to-find location--it was hidden behind an office park across the street from the mall. Schinn's shameless promotion of the Hornets as a tie-in also didn't help much (see the ad above)-the bar even featured photos of all of the players. Like Schinn and his Hornets, Outrigger Seafood soon became a distant memory for most Charlotteans.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Fishmarket

1983 ad

1983 ad

1990 ad

1994 ad

Original matchbooks (both courtesy of Robert McEwen)

Your hosts-- Rene (owner), Vince (manager), and Martin (owner/head chef)

1993 table photo (note the aquarium in the rear)

1994 interior shot

Located in the Pavilion Shoppes across from Southpark Mall, The Fishmarket opened in March of 1983. The Fishmarket quickly established itself as the destination to go for gourmet seafood in an unsurpassed elegant atmosphere. The ambience was further enhanced by several large aquariums strategically located in the dining room as well as evening music provided by piano. For years, The Fishmarket was one of only two of Charlotte's five-star restaurants. It earned a reputation for an extensive menu of unusual fish and a formal setting which was both unique and distinct.

The Fishmarket would continue its successful run for about 20 years when the Pavilion (in response to the expansion and remodel of Southpark Mall) would close and eventually be torn down (the building was showing its age and tearing it down was an easier option than remodeling). The location currently houses a high-end gardening store and a bistro-style restaurant.

REVISIONS -- 1-19-2009- From the late-90's-