Dec 21, 2022 - Business

Restaurants Charlotte lost in 2022

soul-gastrolounge-new-restaurant-and-bar-plaza-midwood

Axios archives

This has been another rough year for Charlotte’s restaurant industry, fraught with inflation, labor shortages, supply-chain headaches and rising rent.

As a result, we said goodbye to some of our beloved restaurants in 2022. A few had been around for a while; others were relatively new.

Why it matters: As is the case with other cities, 2022 was supposed to feel like a comeback year for Charlotte’s restaurant industry, now that vaccines are widespread and now that life seems to have returned to normal. Instead, it’s been another devastating year for our local scene.

By the numbers: Employment in North Carolina’s restaurant and bar industry has rebounded to its pre-pandemic levels. As of October, the industry employed 396,300 people statewide, up from 395,500 the same period in 2019, according to figures from the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

  • But a rebound in employment doesn’t mean all restaurants have fared well.
  • Of note: The NCRLA does not track restaurant closures statewide.

A few of the notable Charlotte restaurants to have closed this year:

The Stanley

Two-time James Beard Award nominated chef Paul Verica opened The Stanley in Elizabeth in 2018 and it quickly developed a reputation as one of the best restaurants in Charlotte. Verica closed the restaurant in May, pointing to the impact of the pandemic on the culinary industry.

What’s next: The team behind The Crunkleton will open a Mexican restaurant in The Stanley’s former space.

Flashback: Verica opened Orto, an Italian restaurant in NoDa that was a departure from his signature farm-to-table style, in February 2021 and closed it in December 2021, citing pandemic-related capacity limits as a reason for the quick closure.

The Crunkleton sits on the left at 1957 E. 7th St. and the new restaurant sits on the right at 1961 E. 7th St. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

VelTree 

Dec. 23 will be the last day for VelTree Soulful Vegan Cuisine. 

Flashback: Chef Velvet “Vel” Kelty-Jacobs and her wife Treona “Tree” Kelty-Jacobs opened VelTree in 2018 in University City as a takeout joint before ultimately opening a full-service restaurant in Ballantyne in 2021.

The big picture: The couple is tired after working 12-13-hour days, six days a week. Inflation also played a role in their decision to close.

  • When they both came down with the flu earlier this month, they had to close briefly close the restaurant because they didn’t have the staff to run it.
  • The couple have also been living out of hotel for nearly a year, because the plan was stay in Charlotte long enough to open the restaurant before returning to Los Angeles.

What’s next: Vel is also a movie producer and will begin filming a project in February, Tree tells Axios. The plan is to film in Charlotte.

Veltree Vegan Soul Food
Axios archives

Soul Gastrolounge

A Plaza Midwood staple since 2009, Soul was known for its tapas-style menu (including Asian glazed pork belly tacos topped with watermelon). The restaurant closed over the summer. Its owners, Andy and Lesa Kastanas, cited surging rent, supply-chain issues, staffing shortages and rising food and maintenance costs. 

Yes, but: Soul recently launched a food truck and the Kastanases say they plan to reopen Soul and Tattoo sometime in 2023.

Soul Gastrolounge Plaza Midwood
Soul Gastrolounge Plaza Midwood

Sister

A “sister” restaurant to Soul and also owned by the Kastanases, Sister closed over the summer as well, as it was in the same building as Soul.

  • Flashback: KiKi Bistro opened back in November 2019 as a dinner spot and cocktail lounge serving Greek and Eastern Mediterranean food. The Kastanases rebranded the restaurant as Sister and opened it in early 2022.
Sister Plaza Midwood Rooftop
Axios archives

Crepe Cellar

Local restaurateurs Jamie Brown and Jeff Tonidandel opened their first restaurant, Crepe Cellar, in 2009, in the middle of the recession. It became a beloved spot over the years, known for its juicy burgers and pesto brie french fries.

Flashback: Last year, the owners announced plans to close the Crepe Cellar and transition it into a new Italian restaurant: Ever Andalo.

Crepe Cellar pesto brie fries
Crepe Cellar’s pesto brie fries. Photo courtesy of Crepe Cellar

Alchemy @ C3Lab 

The South End spot, which focused on vegetarian items, closed in July after opening in June 2020.

alchemy c3 lab restaurant caesar salad
Axios archives

Picante

 The Wesley Heights restaurant closed in May after a decade in business.

  • Que Fresa replaced Picante in October. It was opened by Manuel Flores, who also owns Que Onda
  • Flores told Axios earlier this year Picante owner Anthony Deresh and manager Lisa Mack contacted him about taking over the space with the stipulation that he retain the staff, who now work mostly at Que Onda restaurants around the city.
burrito-at-picante-in-charlotte
Axios archives

The big picture: New locally owned restaurants continue to crop up all over Charlotte, making a splash and drawing sizable crowds.

  • Among the recent ones to already make a name for themselves: Yunta, Bird Pizzeria, Cheat’s Cheesesteaks and IndiGrille.
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