Feb 11, 2021

Axios Charlotte

Hello, Thursday. It's Emma Way.

  • Weather: It'll be a cloudy and rainy day with a high of 53.
  • 🎂 Happy birthday to Axios Charlotte members Mary Ann Ciciarelli, John Davis, Courtney Gendron, Gary Maniloff, Patrick Nagy, Karen Ransenberg and Jewell Ward.

Situational awareness: Our first virtual event is today from 12:30-1pm. Axios' Katie Peralta Soloff and I will interview Gov. Roy Cooper and Hornets president Fred Whitfield on economic recovery and the sports and entertainment industry. Register here.

Today's Smart Brevitycount: 900 words, a 3½-minute read.

1 big thing: Iconic Mr. K's restaurant is for sale
The soft serve at Mr. K's hasn't changed since this 2018 photo, but the neighborhood sure has. Notice anything different about the background? Photo: Katie Levans

The 54-year-old family-owned diner, known for its unpretentious soft serve and cheeseburgers, was listed for sale this week for $260,000.

Why it matters: The listing puts the future of the beloved restaurant in jeopardy, but there's still hope for Mr. K's if owner George Dizes finds a buyer who wants to carry on its legacy.

  • "I would love to have Mr. K’s around for another 50 years," he tells Axios' Katie Peralta Soloff.

It's a turnkey deal for the 1,400-square-foot business, so everything — from fryers to booths — comes with the purchase. CBJ first reported the news of the sale.

The big picture: Mr. K’s sits on prime real estate in fast-changing South End, surrounded by trendy retailers, luxury apartments and office high-rises under construction.

  • It's one of the last strongholds of old-school Charlotte, and that means something.

Flashback: Greek immigrants Theodore and Demetra Karres opened Mr. K’s in 1967 and operated it until their retirement in the mid-1990s, when their children George Karres and Pamela Dizes took over. Pamela's husband, George Dizes, joined the team in 2005.

  • In summer 2019, Pamela died after a yearslong battle with breast cancer. She greeted customers at the door of Mr. K’s up until a few months before she passed.

Even before the pandemic, Dizes was open about the challenges of owning a mom-and-pop shop in a fast-growing neighborhood like South End.

  • Now, he plans to retire. "I’ve been doing this for 23 years. It’s catching up to me," Dizes said. "The only thing I want to focus on is getting some rest and relaxation."

Keep reading.

2. 💉 Teachers next in the vaccine line

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Teachers moved up on the state's COVID-19 vaccine priority list yesterday. Starting Feb. 24, all school employees and childcare personnel of all ages can get vaccinated.

Why it matters: The announcement from Gov. Cooper comes just as school districts like CMS start the reopening process. Teachers return to schools today with some K-8 students following on Monday.

  • Yes, but: Supply is limited, and these new appointments are only for the first dose. Teachers still have weeks of in-person class before being fully vaccinated.

What's next: Individuals ages 65 and up are still being vaccinated. On March 10, all remaining frontline workers like grocery clerks and mail carriers can be vaccinated .

3. Exclusive: Addressing grocery deserts with an app

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Starting today, grocery delivery app Instacart will accept food stamps from North Carolina residents ordering EBT SNAP-eligible food from Food Lion, a company spokesperson tells me.

  • The expansion adds to its existing partnership with Aldi.

Why it matters: Fresh produce and nutritious pantry staples are essentials for a healthy diet, but depending on where you live and whether you have access to a car, they may be hard to come by.

  • News of this program, shared exclusively with Axios Charlotte, means Charlotteans who depend on food stamps have one less barrier to accessing groceries.

How it works: Instacart will accept EBT SNAP online payment in the place of a credit card on its website or on its app. Delivery fees are not included, but the company is waiving fees for EBT SNAP customers' first three orders in North Carolina.

🛒 In other grocery news: A development under construction in NoDa plans to bring a new grocery store to the neighborhood, CBJ reports.

Now hiring: 6 fresh job openings

💼 Let us help you make your next career move.

  1. Digital Marketing Manager at Sonic Automotive.
  2. IT Specialist at Habitat for Humanity
  3. Digital Sales Account Executive at Comporium.
  4. Sales Development Representative (SDR) at DebtBook.
  5. Sales Associate at Poole Shop.
  6. Content Manager at Tiny Horse.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job

4. A plant shop in a brewery

Lenny Boy Brewing opens its side hustle today: a plant shop. Photo: Emma Way/Axios

The Plant Room opens today at Lenny Boy Brewing, meaning you can now sip kombucha and browse varieties of snake plants at the same time.

The big picture: Charlotte's a little plant crazy. Since the pandemic began, a number of new shops selling house plants have opened, including Shades of Moss in Elizabeth and PlantBar in Dilworth.

  • It was a trend Lenny Boy owner Nathan Villaume noticed and acted on in order to create a new revenue stream during (and after) the pandemic. It doesn't hurt that Villaume has a green thumb himself.

The shop is open Thursdays through Sundays from 12-6pm at 3000 S. Tryon St.

See inside.

5. Streetcar is (finally) moving again

Screenshot of a Feb. 10 tweet from CityLYNX Gold Line

Oh, what a sight to see: The long-awaited streetcar expansion going across the even longer-awaited (and now open) Hawthorne Lane Bridge.

CATS started testing the new streetcar trains last night ahead of opening to passengers next month.

  • The streetcar's route will take passengers from French Street near Johnson C. Smith University to the edge of Elizabeth. It'll eventually expand all the way up Beatties Ford to 85 and to Eastland in either direction.
The loop (we're keeping you in it)

News you can use from our super cool, very important Axios Charlotte partners.

  • Take part in the virtual Cupid's Cup 5K & 1 Mile Walk this week. The walk benefits Cardiac Rehabilitation programs at Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute that help patients like George Washington, III, who made a full recovery after suffering a heart attack with 100% blockage.
  • Apartment hunting? Northwood Ravin's Providence Row should be at the top of your touring list. The luxury complex is situated between SouthPark and Cotswold and units include high-end features like Nest thermostats, rain showerheads, and custom walk-in closets.
  • If all the time at home this winter has had you organizing and getting rid of stuff, consider donating furniture and other home-related items to Habitat Charlotte Region ReStores. You can find a list of accepted items here and a list of drop-off locations here (just make sure to drop off during donation hours). 
6. Steph Curry has a book club

Steph Curry. Photo: Thearon W. Henderson /Getty Images

I keep telling myself I'm going to read more, but then I go and buy a Nintendo Switch and spend three hours playing Just Dance.

Now, I have some extra motivation: Charlotte's (and America's) MVP Steph Curry has a book club where he leads discussions on creative nonfiction stories about people who have "defied the odds to achieve true greatness."

  • It's part of a partnership with Literati, which has a slew of celebs leading book clubs for members that pay $25 per month.
  • February's pick is "Black Brother, Black Brother" by Jewell Parker Rhodes.
7. New market and bar opens today in NoDa
The Exchange owner Kevin Samuel. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

The Exchange at 36th will be a convenience store you’ll want to hang out in, owner Kevin Samuel tells us.

What to expect: Samuel hopes to fill a need in NoDa with the market by offering basic pantry staples, produce, plants and other local goods.

  • Food-wise, The Exchange will sell pre-packaged, grab-and-go options like salads and sandwiches supplied by Bistro La Bon.
  • Drinks-wise, it'll have beer and wine available once it gets its liquor license.
  • Open daily from 9am-10pm.

See inside.

We're over the hump. If you're looking ahead for some fun (and safe) things to do this weekend, check out Axios' Symphony Webber's weekender guide.