Monday, August 25, 2008

The Spaghetti Warehouse

The Spaghetti Warehouse opened in late January 1991 in the former Nebel Knitting Co. mill. It was located between the Dilworth and Wilmore neighborhoods on Worthington Ave (a block and a half from the South Blvd-East Blvd intersection). It's interior design was eclectic at best. From the streetcar dining room (the Charlotte's car was an original from Connecticut) to the stagecoach dining section, the Spaghetti Warehouse offered something completely different decor-wise for the Charlotte area. It's walls were adorned with everything from barber-poles, gas company logos, and other vintage advertising memorabilia.

Interesting was the arrival of the Old Spaghetti Factory to Charlotte at about the same time (plans were originally to open in January as well, but it got pushed back to a Spring 1991 opening). Based on the same concept (over the top interiors/an impressive long list of marginal spaghetti dishes), the Old Spaghetti Factory opened on the other side of Dilworth on Morehead St in the former Cavalaris Skating Rink. One newspaper article at the time talked of the forth coming "Spaghetti Wars".

The Spaghetti Warehouse would run for eleven years, closing on February 4, 2002. Along the way, it would have a slight name change to The Spaghetti Warehouse Italian Grill in the Summer of 1997 (an effort by the chain to expand and promote non-spaghetti menu offerings).

Though the Spaghetti Warehouse was a part of a corporate chain, its importance to Charlotte at the time can not be understated. It was one of the first participants in the South End redevelopment wave. At the time, the South Blvd corridor was in a state of disarray. Lined with empty buildings and a fringe atmosphere, South End was a depressed area that was avoided by most. The opening of the Spaghetti Warehouse not only signaled a change was underway, but also helped trigger the boom that was to recharge South Blvd.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Cupboard **HALL OF FAME EATERY**

The Cupboard was one of Charlotte's best and busiest of the home cooking restaurants. The Cupboard drew a huge crowd not only at breakfast, but during lunch and dinner as well. They were known for their fried chicken livers, fried chuckwagon steak, and (especially) the chicken pan pie. The Cupboard was most famous for their cream pies. Their coconut and chocolate cream pies were legendary. 

The Cupboard was located in the 3000 block of South Boulevard in the Sedgefield neighborhood of Charlotte. It was owned by Martha and W.F. "Bill" Reid. They opened the Varsity Drive-In in 1960. In 1967 they closed the drive-in and opened The Cupboard in the same parking lot. When Bill passed away in 1990, he son Billy took over the restaurant. Little changed with the restaurant over the years. The menu stayed the same as did the interior--aqua-colored dining booths, 50's-styled light fixtures, dark paneling on the walls.

The Cupboard would close in mid-2005. McDonald's tried to buy the property for a new location, but the Reid's refused. Last year, a new Chick-Fil-A opened on the site.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mr. K's Soft Ice Cream & Drive In **HALL OF FAME EATERY**

Long before Carvel arrived in Charlotte, Mr K's was the place to go for soft-serve ice cream. Located on South Blvd in the Southend section of Charlotte, Mr. K's was opened by 1967 by Theodore Karres (the "K" in Mr. K). He retired in 1995 and sold the business to his children- George and Pamela.

Mr. K's is famous for their burgers, crisp onion rings, and fat square-cut fries. As popular as the food is though, its the soft-serve ice cream that people line up for. Milkshakes in every conceivable flavor are also popular.

Almost everything within a mile of Mr. K's has been renovated or replaced in the past few years. With such extensive change, it's comforting to find Mr. K's almost exactly the same as it was when it opened over forty years ago.