Thursday, September 18, 2014

Memories of past restaurants....


In 1999, the Observer asked readers which closed restaurants did they miss the most --- the list is a great look back in the past...which ones do you recall?

* Chez Daniel: Charlotte's best restaurant was in a bitty house in the back of a shopping center parking lot off East Boulevard. Intimate. Elegant. Never, ever noisy. The balding man with the glass of red wine was always at the round table in the corner. At lunch, the wait staff was Danielle Quillec, who owned the place with her husband, Daniel. They excelled at classic, sophisticated French food. Everything was wonderful. Meat. Fish. Poultry. And the leek and basil soup? Always sopped up the bowl with the crusty country bread. It lasted 12 years.
- Michael Weinstein
* I miss D'Arcy's, where they made the Caesar salad at your table (complete with a raw egg, which would undoubtedly turn the Health Department blue these days), and it was the best I have ever eaten.
Doug Robarchek
* The Red Carpet on East Morehead. Back around 1970, when Charlotte was still more like a big Spartanburg than a little Atlanta, the Red Carpet was one of a handful of places (the Epicurean on East Boulevard was another) that you'd go to celebrate a birthday or a wedding anniversary. It was a formal old white-tablecloth place that served mostly classic dishes (mango chutney being unknown in those days). One of their specialties was Chateaubriand.
- Henry Eichel
* Even though it has been close to 10 years since Kenilworth Cafe served its last beer, regulars still bemoan the demise of the cozy corner bar at the intersection of Kenilworth and East Boulevard. It was where my fellow Queens College students and I would meet for beer and burgers. It was such a home-away-from-the-dorm for me that I even wrote a term paper in the comfort of one of its great wooden booths. I still have a pen-and-ink sketch of the cafe created by a local artist to ease the pain of distraught regulars.
- Olivia Fortson
* Cafe Flavors and LA Pizza Kitchen: I count these as one establishment because they were the brainchildren of one man, John Berres. Cafe Flavors was always a culinary adventure. It wasn't for the faint of palate. Berres and crew would come up with the best blends of spices. I followed it from the motel on Independence to the spot behind Park Road Shopping Center. LA Pizza Kitchen was an offshoot, and a delightful one at that. Scrumptious toppings, a great beer selection and they delivered the pies and the suds. Both were way ahead of their time.
- Crystal Dempsey
* As the name suggested, They Laughed at Edison had the moxie an all-vegetarian restaurant needed in the '70s: an aging-hippies-whose-philosophic-time-has-come attitude.
Unfortunately, it hadn't, and my favorite joint closed in the early '80s. The buffet line held more than the usual veggie-burger fare: soups, breads, casseroles and more complicated entrees nobody else in town dared to serve. It was terrific for lower-income eaters (such as reporters); to find something comparable 20 years later, you have to go to The Laughing Seed in Asheville.
- Lawrence Toppman
* I remember well the D'n'P Coffee Shop in the 500 block of South Tryon. I had my first taste of collards there back in the late '80s, when I interviewed for my job at The Observer. I got hired, and spent many lunch hours there before it was torn down. There was something about the place that reminded me of an old hat or jacket - a little threadbare and worn, but comforting and comfortable.
The late morning light streaming through the dusty window silhouetting diners and waitresses in the cigarette smoke is an image of Charlotte that I'll always recall.
- Gary O'Brien
* I mourn the old Catherine's, the one that started in the former Mayberry Ice Cream that's now Boston Market. Good food, well-prepared, great atmosphere (not too fancy, not too slack).
Mary Newsom
* Eli's - before Southern gourmet was Southern gourmet, before Dilworth was Dilworth; Sunday brunch vodka-tomato and champagne-peach soups before the anointed one o'clock hour, leisurely business dinner meetings before such was an oxymoron. Eli's - before hospitality, manners and grace were replaced by hot, trendy and fast-paced.
- April Hart
* Gus Purcell's Fish Camp on East Independence Boulevard was a neat place. It was big and roomy and had excellent service. When I moved here in 1978, everyone told me it was the place to go.
A special memory: It was the first place we ever went for dinner with our first child. Beth was 6 weeks old at the time. She cried constantly. At Gus Purcell's, you wouldn't even hear her crying.
- Steve Lyttle
* Tanner's, on South Tryon near The Square, embodied Everything Good About Greasy Spoons. You could fuel up for the whole day on a buck and a half. Sure, you stood up at narrow little counters to eat, but they squeezed their own unforgettable orangeade, and the burgers and hot dogs were the staff of life to a young teen working downtown. The kicker: a free little pack of roasted redskin peanuts with every meal.
- Woody Mitchell
* I loved Proposition XLV, but right before it was Proposition XLV, it was called The Cottage, and all the folks in the neighborhood would walk up there and have their sandwiches. They had the best shrimp salad on pumpernickel.
- Ellen Archer
* My favorite now-gone place to eat lunch or dinner was Grady's on Albemarle Road, because of their chocolate bar/syrup cake, served warm with ice cream - my word! It was truly scrumptious.
- Anita White
* I happily remember the great food and more important the great times and great people at Papa Gallo's on Monroe Road. To this day I judge a restaurant by Papa Gallo's in the way of food, service, atmosphere, etc.
- Jim McNerney
* One of my favorites for many, many years was Slug's, which just had roast beef. It was on Independence, and it was an outstanding restaurant. That's all it did, was have standing roast beef and a salad - and it was just wonderful.
- Norman Palin
* I remember well the Slug's Restaurant at SouthPark. We moved to Rock Hill in 1975 and our children were 11 and 7. We enjoyed shopping and relaxing afterward in the comfort of Slug's dining room. Cloth napkins, cloth tablecloths, good prime rib and Slug himself "waltzing" from table to table asking how things were. We miss it - and him.
- Betty Robinson
* Of all the restaurants long gone, I remember The Luau on Montford Drive. A pool greeted us and as we were led to our table we passed a miniature waterfall, beautiful plantings, and different levels where beauty was tucked into each corner. The food was excellent, the pupu platter spectacular.
- Sue Clark
* Stonehenge - yes, like the stones in England, on Morehead - was just a very stylish restaurant; you just felt like you were in some fancy city and we weren't really quite a fancy city yet then. It was just a great place to have lunch, or a secret rendezvous. Another one was called The Luau. I had a bridesmaid luncheon given to me there in 1965. That was wonderful food at the time, such things as chicken salad in a half of a pineapple: Can you imagine?!
- Mary Lynne Huggins
* When I was a kid (in the '60s), my family and I went to a restaurant on Montford called The Luau. It was Polynesian/Asian, and was decorated like a South Pacific set - papa-san chairs, bamboo, a little pool, etc. I'm sure today it would be considered "kitschy" but I loved it. I miss it and I want it back!
- Susan Fox
* I remember it well! The elegant Barringer Hotel dining room with those wonderful white-gloved waiters, the S&W Cafeteria on West Trade Street with its crystal chandeliers, and Chez Montet, near the railroad station, where a group of us young (then) gourmands tried all the French goodies available. Then there was Jimmy's Oriental restaurant, where they served white bread, and lemon with the tea. Oy vey! What memories!
- Fay Green
* I remember a wonderful restaurant that was located in the first block of West Trade Street. This goes back to the mid-'40s (I was around 7 or 8 years old): The Ship Ahoy. Friday night, Dad, Mom and me: our "date" night. There was an alley that ran alongside the building; the car would turn in (my heart would be pounding), park, (and we would) go into the back entrance in the old Liberty Life Building. You walked down a short hallway, then there you were: on a ship! There were heavy wood tables and chairs on the floor. Two "galleys" ran the length on each side with leather-covered booths lining the walls. Oh, my! Those walls! They were covered with huge canvas paintings of the sea with ships asail. I don't mean framed paintings, I mean canvas-covered walls! And they were swaying to look like real motion. The dark blues of the sky and sea coupled with the heavy dark wood of the rails, chairs and tables was simply amazing! I know my folks loved it too. My dad, being in the restaurant business, was rather picky about where we ate. The place had the most wonderful smell, along with a steak that would knock your socks off. I have eaten in hundreds of restaurants since then; however, none has left the enduring pleasant memory that Ship Ahoy brings to mind.
- Mary Ann Thomas-Wylie



1 comment:

  1. Born and raised in Charlotte, as a 61-year-old now, I have lots and lots of memories of favorite restaurants. But right now, what comes to mind were the just the good times that I shared as a child with mom, dad and my brother dining out. We weren't a wealthy family and we had many pleasant meals at some of the “cafeteria style" restaurants around Charlotte. Who remembers the Barclay Cafeteria in the Amity Gardens Shopping Center on Independence Boulevard (owned and operated *I think* by Slug Claiborne)? The S&W cafeteria on the upper floor at the Charlottetown Mall? The S&W Cafeteria at Park Road Shopping Center? Ketner's “Buffeteria" on South Boulevard? The thing I remember most about all of these places was that as you took your tray down the line, the first thing you came to were the desserts. S&W had the most irresistible whipped cream smothered strawberry shortcake I have ever had and I still remember the taste of that dessert to this day.

    ReplyDelete