Friday, October 17, 2008

Copal Grill **CLOSED**

Above two photos courtesy of David at Groceteria

1950 ad

1959 ad

1968 ad

1971 ad

1975 ad

1994 Hootie & The Blowfish music video

Another of Charlotte's famous institution restaurants has closed. After much speculation, the legendary Copal Grill on Wilkinson Blvd has closed its doors. There had been rumors for the last decade that the restaurant would be closed to make way for an airport entrance freeway, and now that rumor has come true. 

The Copal Grill was opened in 1947 by Mike Hunter and Gene Gulledge. They ran the Copal until 1965 when they sold it to Kleomenis Balatsias (who passed away this past July) and Spero Kalevas. It would remain in the Balatsias family until its close.

The Copal Grill was initially geared towards truck drivers and people going to and from the nearby airport. Before I-85, Wilkinson Blvd served as the expressway that connected Charlotte to all points west of the city. The Copal Grill was basically a roadside diner serving everything from the traditional "meat-and-threes" (daily specials that came with a meat, two veggie sides, and bread) to their famous hand-cut steaks and chops. Their fried squash and turkey and dressing were signature items on their menu.

The Copal Grill was featured in a 1994 Hootie & The Blowfish music video (see above) and was also used as the primary location for a feature Hollywood film that is about to be released. With its classic diner interior and retro neon sign out front, it made for a great film location.

The closing of the Copal Grill adds to the growing list of Charlotte restaurants that have closed over the past few years (Anderson's, Athen's, Little Italy, Rheinland Haus). These restaurants all helped shape and build Charlotte as the city was growing and taking shape. Along with the other closed eateries, the Copal Grill will be missed.

REVISIONS--- 3-25-09

June 1996-- Kleomenis Balatsias and Spiro Kalevas in the kitchen

3-25-09 The Copal Grill is reduced to rubble--

Video of today's demolition--


  1. Great old time eatery. To bad it is gone. Nice post

  2. Thanks for the comment!

    There is talk of relocating--as well as relocating the dynamite sign..

  3. Pat Thank you for posting the comment on COPAL's closing. I had a lot of great meals there and when I had friends going to Charlotte I always told them to go to COPALS to eat and assured them they would not leave hungry. I hope that they will find a suitable location to reopen. It has been a couple of years since I ate there but I surely have not forgotten the great steaks, chops and very reasonable prices that I enjoyed. Since retiring I don't find myself in Charlotte very often but I will certainly miss eating at COPALs when I do.

  4. I've eaten there as long as I can remember. If I only had nickel for every breakfast I've eaten there I could afford to buy them a new location. Gonna miss you Thelma!

  5. what movie filmed there?

  6. It is sad when local favorites like this have to close down. I wonder what they did with their sign?

  7. The Killing is the name of the film..

  8. Just watched the killing jar and I had to google copal grill. Relocate to Seattle!!

  9. I was a customer at Copal's since the day I was born in 1964. My father ate their every morning before he went to work at Pilot Freight Carriers which used to be up the street. Manuel and his family were good friends of my parents and they even helped pay for an operation I had when I was 15 yrs. old. Once I moved to Virginia, I made sure I visited there anytime I came back to Charlotte. I miss the restaurant and the people that owned it and worked there! Denise McCarver Canant

  10. Found "The Killing Jar" and was very suprised to see The Copal. I ate there all my life, with car clubs, church groups, and motorcycle friends. At least the Copal Grill will live on.