It stings when we have to say goodbye — especially to Charlotte’s longstanding restaurants, where meals have made memories to last us a lifetime.
COVID-19 and the aftermath that has followed of staff shortages, rising food costs and supply chain breakdowns has strained even the hardiest of stalwarts in the restaurant industry. Some came to their breaking points and couldn’t continue, even though it broke our hearts, too.
These are some of the Charlotte restaurants and food shops that permanently closed in 2021:
Location: 127 N Tryon St Suite 8, Charlotte, NC 28202
Patrons will say farewell to 5Church at midnight on New Year’s Eve, as it will transition to Church and Union on Jan. 1. Expect a new menu, including the CU Burger with mushroom deuxelles, truffle cheese, truffle aioli, and home fries.
Bonterra Restaurant & Wine Room
Location: 1829 Cleveland Ave., Charlotte, NC 28203
After 22 years in business, Bonterra is closing to reinvent itself. “My family and I have made the difficult decision to sell the property to Jamie Brown and Jeff Tonidandel, the group behind another renovated church, Supperland in Plaza Midwood. We’ve had several offers over the last few years because of the amazing growth in the area, but we waited until just the right group came along,” owner John “JD” Duncan wrote on the restaurant’s website. It planned to close Dec. 23, and later reopen as Bonterra Coffee and Wine Bar in SouthPark in April.
Choi’s Korea & Wing
Location: 808 E Arrowood Rd, Charlotte, NC 28217
Neighborhood: Montclaire South/South Charlotte
Choi’s Korea & Wing, a South Charlotte restaurant that specialized in Korean and Chinese food since 1995, closed Oct. 31. “Dear Loyal customers, I want to thank you for all the support you have given us over the past 20+ years. My parents have worked very hard and recently, they decided to take their next life journey into retirement,” a message posted on Instagram from the family-owned restaurant said.
Location: 3619 E. Independence Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28205
Neighborhood: Echo Hills
Staff at the sandwich shop posted a sign in the front window announcing: “Thursday, April 16, will be our last day. Thanks for 40 great years.” More than 100 fans of the restaurant said things online like “breaks my heart,” “this is sad,” and “been coming here since I was a kid.
Location: 1609 Elizabeth Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204
Earl’s Grocery announced a July 24 closure, citing challenges in making a profit. “We kept pushing and working through it all,” co-owner Bonnie Warford said in a news release. “But there is not a lot of room for small indie markets in the grocery industry.” The urban grocery store had expanded to include online ordering and other features since sisters and co-owners Warford and Tricia Maddrey shut down their restaurant, Carpe Diem, after 30 years in 2020.
Location: 1600 E. Woodlawn Road, #150, Charlotte, NC 28209
The Thai fusion restaurant served curries and noodle dishes, along with Laotian street food such as nam khao. A note on the door read, “Hibiscus will hold our last day of service on Sunday, May 2nd. We greatly appreciate each and every guest that have been a part of our journey these past five years.”
Mr. K’s Soft Ice Cream
Location: 2107 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203
Neighborhood: South End
Mr. K’s closed May 21, shutting its doors after serving hamburgers and soft-serve ice cream for 54 years. “Moving forward, what will remain (are) the good memories. I want to thank all our customers and all our friends, relatives and everyone who supported us” over the past half century, owner George Dizes said. “It’s been a pleasure, it’s been an honor and we’re going to miss you as much as you’re going to miss us.”
Location: 1600 E. Woodlawn Road, Charlotte, NC 28209
Libretto’s Pizzeria announced the June 8 closing of its Parktowne Village location via Facebook. “Libretto’s at Parktowne Village was a hell of a story. We laughed, we cried. We were introduced to so many incredible people along the way, friendships that will survive for a long time to come,” the restaurant stated.
Location: 4111 Monroe Road, Charlotte, NC 28205
Neighborhood: Echo Hills
Owner John Polonyfis announced via a Facebook post that after 52 years, the carryout restaurant would close for good on May 29. “We are so grateful for the Oakhurst community for supporting us. Our customers are like family,” Angelo Polonyfis, John’s father, told CharlotteFive. “I just want to thank our customers and our employees; we are so grateful.” The mom and pop shop was known for serving American classics with daily specials like fried chicken, meatloaf and hamburger steak.
Orto Italian Kitchen
Location: 416 E 36th St Unit 600, Charlotte, NC 28205
Two-time James Beard semifinalist Paul Verica opened the restaurant in early 2021 with a concept focused on personal memories of growing up, watching his grandmother in the kitchen, and eating Italian food. Charlotte Business Journal reported that COVID-19 related complications and rising food prices contributing to the closing..
Price’s Chicken Coop
Location: 1614 Camden Rd, Charlotte, NC 28203
Neighborhood: South End
The cash-only fried chicken joint in South End announced a June 19 closure, leading to lines out the door and down the street. “It is with heavy hearts that The Chicken Coop has decided to close our doors after 59 years of business due to the Labor shortage, rising food costs, food quality and another coin shortage,” the Facebook post read. “We thank everybody for their support and business over the years!”
Location: 440 Tyvola Road, Charlotte NC 28217
Location: 328 West Plaza Drive, Mooresville, NC 28117
The Sonny’s franchise on Tyvola Road in Charlotte closed April 30. The restaurant had served the St. Louis-style barbecue slow-smoked in house pork, brisket, chicken and ribs at the location for 40 years On Aug. 16, Sonny’s franchise in Mooresville closed after 19 years. Sonny’s, based in Florida, has two other locations near Charlotte on Lyles Lane in Concord near Concord Mills and Cherry Road in Rock Hill.
Location: 4205 Stuart Andrew Blvd., Suite E, NC 28217
Neighborhood: Clanton Park/Roseland
Tizzerts owner Tiz Benson said the pandemic was too much for the bakeshop that opened in 1995 and is known for its buttercream frosting, and custom decorations on cakes and cupcakes. “These times of COVID-19 are tough ones for so many,” Benson said. “Like many others, we simply can’t compete with its grasp on our local economy … our Tizzerts’ ovens are turned off.”
Tu One Oh Tacos
Location: 1540 West Blvd., Suite 101, Charlotte, NC 28208
Neighborhood: Revolution Park
Owners Rachel Alvarez and Erica Lemon closed in October, telling CharlotteFive that they had struggled with the location, which was tucked in between two vegan spots. “It’s been an emotional journey for us,” Lemon said. The couple hope to open in a new location in the future.
Location: 4009 South Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28209
Neighborhood: South Charlotte/Collingwood/LoSo
George and Elaine Demopoulos closed the restaurant’s doors for good on July 1. “After so many years working 14 to 15 hour days, it has taken a toll on my body,” George Demopoulos said. “You know when it is time.” For over four decades, Zack’s served burgers and hot dogs, Southern plates, onion rings and milkshakes.
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