Thursday, August 23, 2012


Yates Louis "YL" Honey

The Minute Grill

The Minute Grill - 1937

The Minute Grill - 1937

The Minute Grill kitchen - late 1930's

Looking towards the Minute Grill - 1940's

Early Minute Grill counter

Later Minute Grill counter

Minute Grill menu

Minute Grill menu

1943 ad

1948 ad

1950 ad

Minute Grill in Gastonia - 1939

Minute Grill in Gastonia - 1940's



Honey's dining room

Original drive-in menu


Sketch of new location - 1966

Sketch of new location - 1966

1956 ad

1957 ad

1959 ad

Early 1960's ad 

Early 1960's ad

Early 1960's ad

1962 breakfast menu

1960's postcard

1983 ad

Sign at the Durham location (photo courtesy of Steven Swain)

Few people in Charlotte's restaurant past are as important as Yates Louis "YL" Honey. A true visionary, he was ahead of his time on most every aspect of the restaurant industry in Charlotte.  If you grew up in Charlotte from the 1930's through the 1950's, YL was an important part of your life. You might not have known his name or face, but you knew and loved his food. For three decades, he owned many of the area's most popular eateries, including the Minute Grill (at Morehead and Tryon -- Charlotte's first drive-in). Honey along with his brother-in-law Salem Suber also operated several other Charlotte institutions - The Green Gables (located on Providence Rd where the Manor Theater now stands) and the famed Townhouse at the corner of Providence and Queens Rd. The Minute Grill would evolve into Honey's Restaurant - YL's most famous and successful eatery. Honey's would grow into several locations throughout the state. Throughout his career, YL would also delve into other businesses including hotels, convenience stores, and commercial real estate. 

David Bedinger worked with YL and still works for Honey Enterprises. His memories and recollections are below:

"Yates Louis Honey, Sr. (“YL” to his friends) graduated from R.J. Reynolds HS in Winston-Salem in 1930, and opened a small ice cream luncheonette in Thomasville NC that same year. He opened a 2nd site in Concord and in Feb 1932 opened “Goody Goody BBQ Service" on the corner of Morehead and Tryon Streets. Within a few years, he had changed the name to the “Minute Grill”.  In 1933, he purchased Blue Bird Ice Cream Company at the corner of Mint and Morehead Streets (where I-277 is now located). Mr. Honey made many real estate investments in Gastonia, and always referred to it as “his second home”. Around 1935, he opened a restaurant called Green Gables at 1414 East Franklin Avenue Gastonia. He and his brother-in-law, Salem Suber opened another Green Gables Restaurant on Providence Road, in Charlotte at about the same time. In 1939, the Gastonia restaurant‘s name was also changed to the Minute Grill. Sometime in the 50 or earlier 60’s the name was changed to Honey’s restaurant at Gastonia and Charlotte. Additional Honey’s Restaurants were built in Charlotte, Durham and Greensboro  in the 1960’s, and in the 70’s in Greenville SC(Augusta Road/US 25 and I-85), and Boone NC, and several other places. He also built a Sheraton/Holiday inn at Augusta Road/US 25 @I-85 in Greenville in 1972. 

In 1967, Mr Honey built a 64 room Honey’s Quality Court motel  adjoining the Minute Grill/Honeys in Gastonia.   In 1984 the old restaurant bldg in Gastonia was demolished and a “D ‘Lites”  restaurant was built, a new, fast growing chain. D’Lites soon failed and the building was leased to Arby’s.  Also in 1967, Mr Honey built a facility for Southern Bell (Bell South/AT&T) at 2300 Remount Road. In 1972, he built the District Southern Bell Offices at 412 South Broad Street.

Mr. Honey, Sr. passed away in 1997, at age 86. His wife Rose still lives in Charlotte.
Yates L Honey Jr., “YL’s” son, now is President of Honey Enterprises, which focuses on managing our real estate investments in NC and SC. The last remaining Honey’s Restaurant is still open in Durham NC, at I-85 at Guess Road. Opened in 1962, we no longer are involved with management, and license the Honey’ name to a long time manager, Buck Dickerson."

In the 1960's, YL bought the 4-acre tract at the corner of Morehead and Tryon that was home to his restaurant. He had always envisioned the city square of Charlotte (several blocks north) eventually switching to this intersection. The restaurants he ran on this corner are long gone and the square never migrated south, but the building still remains and the family still owns the property on the corner.

David Bedinger also gave a fascinating recollection of the history of that 4-acre corner:

"An approximate time line of the corner is as follows: Mr. Yates Louis “Y. L.”  Honey graduated from RJR High School in Winston-Salem in 1931, and decided to go into the ice cream business, opening a small retail shop in Thomasville, NC in 1932. He soon began selling sandwiches, because he soon realized that ice cream sales dropped in the winter. He then opened another restaurant in Concord, and a wholesale ice cream mfg company in Charlotte. He was driving down Morehead street in Charlotte in the early 1930’s and saw a dilapidated wood-framed restaurant, selling bbq, was on the corner of Morehead and Tryon. (Mr Honey said that the first time he saw the site the restaurant operator had allowed a traveling side show with a muzzled bear tied to a pole was set up in the front parking lot). Mr Honey liked the location and met the owner of the restaurant, and worked out a deal to purchase the restaurant, subject to a lease. The bldg and land were owned by H.M Wade, whose Wade Mfg. made him one of the wealthiest people in Charlotte. Mr Honey leased the site from Mr Wade but after only a few years, Mr Wade wanted to tear down the old wood building that Mr Honey’s restaurant occupied, and build a large, modern bldg for American Oil Company(AMOCO), for a district office and a service station. Mr Honey persuaded Mr Wade to build a 3000 sq ft restaurant adjacent to the AMOCO bldg. The original restaurant was named “Minute Grill”. It was later changed to “Honey’s”, sometime in the 1950’s. Eventually, Mr Honey would expand the restaurant into the entire 16000 sq ft bldg, with a restaurant, catering and banquet operating from the bldg. In the mid 1960’s, when Mr Wade passed away, Mr Honey purchased the building and land from the Wade estate.

The last restaurant located on the corner was in the early 1970’s. By then, the neighborhood had changed,  and was no longer suitable for a restaurant.

As of 2010, Honey Properties, Inc still owns the corner, and an adjoining office building.  Yates L. Honey Jr. is President. Mr Y.L. Honey Sr’s wife Rose is a young 95, and still loves checking out new restaurants in Charlotte.

The current occupants of the building include: Uptown Cleaners, AA Insurance, Coffey and Thompson Art Framing and Gallery(including interior design servicees, and Edwin Gils Gallery), and Catawba Lands Conservancy and affiliate Carolina Thread Trail."

****Much thanks to David Bedinger for his invaluable contributions to this post***


  1. Just to expand on the Greensboro connection (it's what I do): The original Greensboro location on High Point Road opened as McClure's Restaurant. It featured a tower behind the restaurant that was--I'm told--used for live radio broadcasts. The Olive Garden now occupies that site.

    There was also very briefly a second Greensboro location in a former Hot Shoppes drive-in on Summit Avenue. That building now houses Libby Hill Seafood.

    Extra points for uncovering a Honey's Old Fashion Days ad, BTW.

  2. The Durham location is closing Aug 18 2013

  3. memories. KB central Florida (Central 1959, Garinger 60)