May 11, 2022 - Food and Drink

Charlotte coffee shop priced out of South End

Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios

Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios

May 16 will be bittersweet for Central Coffee Co., as they close the doors to their South End location and celebrate the 13th anniversary of their Plaza Midwood shop.

  • Hours for May 16 will be 6am until 6pm.

Like their friends in the industry, Central Coffee owners Louisa and Jimmy Kleto have been hit with increased prices on products, staffing shortages and trying to survive a pandemic, but the thing that put them out was negotiations for a new lease.

What’s happening: After more than five years on Camden Road, the Kletos decided to close the shop, because they say their landlord raised wanted to raise their rent almost 40%, which was justified as market rate.

  • By comparison, they’re about to sign a new deal on their Plaza Midwood location, which increased 25%, and Louisa told me they “expect increases.”
  • “You can’t really tell anybody what to do with their own property, but at the same time, it’s these small companies that are going to be forced out, because we’re all still recovering from having to shut down for long periods of time,” Louisa said.

Collett Capital, who acquired the building in 2017, did not respond to a request for a comment.

Why it matters: Central Coffee is the latest local business to pay the price of being forced out of South End, but it’s not just South End. Prices are skyrocketing in retail and residential space, and Charlotte is struggling to maintain room for small businesses while pursuing becoming the world class city it so desperately wants to be.

  • “A lot of mom and pop shop like us can only afford so much,” Jimmy said.

What’s next: The Kletos plan to open another coffee shop eventually, and they hope it’s in South End.

Zoom out: Central Coffee’s South End shop is part of a wave of places closing in Charlotte, including Bocado and The Stanley.

My thought bubble: Every time my dad would take me to the airport, we would stop by Central Coffee in South End for a cup of light roast coffee and a slice of vegan zucchini bread.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include the property owner’s name.

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