1908 picture of the restaurant at the Hotel Selwyn
1972 interior picture of the Four Flames
1980 interior shots of Mortimer's (above two pictures)
Spring 1988 ad
Spring 1991 ad (note the switch to an "American grill"-the end is near!)
1979 interior shot of Reflection's
1980 interior shot of Reflection's
1983 Reflection's staff photo
1983 interior shot of La Tache
1985 interior shot of La Tache
1988 ad (note the switch to "American Regional Cuisine"-the end is near!)
Above three ads all from 1991-92
As long as there have been hotels in Charlotte, there have been restaurants to accompany them. In the early days, these eateries were designed primarily for the ease and comfort of the hotel guests and did not typically have many local patrons. This began to change in the mid-60's when hotel restaurants were designed and geared more towards a regional clientele. Hotels became popular not only for their restaurants, but most also had a successful lounge as well.
One of the early hot spots was the Four Flames restaurant located in the Downtowner East (there would also be a Four Flames added to the Downtowner by the Coliseum). With its accompanying Aztec lounge, the Four Flames not only provided a great meal, but also allowed for post-dinner dancing in the lounge.
During the mid-70's through the '80's, three of Charlotte's top restaurants were located in hotels--all with a French-inspired menu. The Marker at the downtown Sheraton, Reflections at the Radisson Plaza, and La Tache (which took the place of Mortimer's) at the Registry Inn all dominated the Charlotte fine dining scene. For a significant part of this time, La Tache was considered to be Charlotte's premier dining establishment. Towards the end of the '80's, the popularity of these restaurants began to wane, causing them to forgo the French cuisine for a more American-bistro approach.
The '90's would see a continuation of the hotel restaurant concept but with a slightly different approach. Instead of high-end restaurants in hotels (the one exception being Scalini at the Hyatt Charlotte), the restaurants became less formal and some tried to differentiate themselves with a theme (this would also be the beginning of the end of the popularity of area hotel restaurants). In the former location of Reflections opened Bravo! which featured an all-singing wait staff and at the Embassy Suites, Bobby McGee's had its staff dress as different literary characters. Once the novelty of the themes wore off though, the non-spectacular food would lead to their ultimate demise.
Today, all of these restaurants are long gone. Just like a hundred years ago, the few hotels in town that actually still have a restaurant do so mainly for the convenience of their guests.
Original matchbooks (all courtesy of Robert McEwen)
December 1973 ad
1976 exterior shot
September 1985 ad
June 1987 ad
1988 shot of Southpark's Guest Quarters Hotel (which housed the Arbour Cafe)
Early-70's aerial photo of the Downtowner