Pour one out for the ones we lost along the way
Every time a business is forced to shut its doors for good, a ripple effect passes through the community. While most of the social media chatter revolves around patrons who loved the place, it hits hardest for the folks who clocked in every day and relied on that business to pay their rent or mortgage. Whether caused by COVID-19, development, or the death of a beloved owner, as was the case with Oasis Day Spa, Charlotte’s first Black-owned day spa, each closure is the end of a chapter for everyone involved. We’ve picked a few businesses that were our favorites to say a few words about, and we wish the best for everyone affected by all of these closures.
The Manor Theatre (1947-2020)
From Gentlemen’s Agreement in 1947, to JoJo Rabbit in 2019, the Manor Theatre has been creating movie-going memories for generations of Charlotteans.
The city’s oldest movie theater was launched by H.B. Meiselman of Eastern Federal Corp. on April 1, 1947, with a showing of The Egg and I starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray. Over the years, it became the go-to venue for the kind of alternative or independent films passed over by the multiplexes.
The theater also enthusiastically supported the Charlotte Film Society, a volunteer consortium of cineastes, and its eclectic slate of artsy and outré films. Manor also partnered with the Charlotte Art League, which would display new artwork every month in the Manor’s lobby.
That all changed in 2005 when Regal acquired the theater. No longer run as a family-owned Charlotte business, The Manor ousted the Art League and the Charlotte Film Society.
But the twin screens continued to feature films beyond the industry’s superhero blockbuster norm, and the Myers Park venue remained cemented in movie lovers’ hearts and minds as a link to both tradition and artistic experimentation.
Last May, the 73-year-old theater, also known as The Manor Twin, saw its dual screens fade to black one last time.
Carpe Diem (1989-2020)
Iyengar Yoga Charlotte (1993-2020)
One of the pioneers who popularized yoga in the west, B.K.S. Iyengar brought his teachings to the U.S. in 1956. In time he counted novelist Aldous Huxley, violinist Yehudi Menuhin and actress Annette Bening among his adherents.
Iyengar’s style of yoga is characterized by the precision of its poses and the use of props such as belts, blocks and blankets to help practitioners attain the poses.
Just as Iyengar was a yoga pathfinder, so too is Phyllis Rollins, who opened Charlotte’s first yoga studio in 1993. From its studio in Elizabeth, Iyengar Yoga Charlotte became a focal point for teaching yoga fundamentals.
Then after 27 years in business, Rollins announced on her studio website that her practice and her business was poised to undergo a transformation.
Rollins noted that while people stayed home during the pandemic the earth began to recover from the onslaught of human development and encroachment. She decided that the most sustainable way forward for her classes was to offer all of them virtually.
Rollins decided to let her Elizabeth studio go, and shut its doors last May.
“I know this may be sad news,” Rollins writes, “but I hope you have begun to see some of the advantages that live stream classes offer in the development of your home practice.”
Oasis Day Spa (1997-2020)
Nova’s Bakery (1996-2020)
Every Sunday growing up, my dad and I would grab our respective books for the following week from Book Buyers and follow the excursion by heading down the street to Nova’s Bakery to get our usual, a black coffee with a little honey for him and a hot chocolate for myself.
Sunday afternoons were spent sharing the plots of the books we just bought and sharing theories of how the conflicts would play out.
I think my love for coffee shops and coffee, in general, began in this quaint neighborhood spot. Its quiet, cozy atmosphere made it the perfect escape for a kid with not many friends and far too many fantasy books on her to-read shelf.
The love affair continued while visiting on breaks from college, though I moved on from hot chocolate to lattes with a double shot of espresso.
It’s sad to see this childhood staple close but I understand that comes with the territory of a constantly developing neighborhood.
I’ll always have those fond memories of getting deeply engrossed in fantastical plots with my dad, dragging friends and partners there to gossip over pastries and finding a peaceful solitude while people-watching through the window.
The Mayobird/Summit Room (2017-2020)
Bill Spoon’s BBQ (1963-2020)
I first tried Bill Spoon’s BBQ in 2017. Everyone I was dining with told me that Spoon’s was the best BBQ spot in Charlotte.
And look, I understand that being beloved isn’t a guarantee that you’ll make it through the worst global pandemic of this century. But man, people seemed to love Spoons.
It felt for a moment there like we could rally around local favorites and save them from closure, like we did with Lang Van.
The closure of Spoon’s, months after lockdown ended, was a sobering reminder that this virus is on an amoral warpath. Like I said on Twitter: “If you don’t buy food from a restaurant, they will close.”
Bold Missy Brewery (2017-2020)
The bright red Fitzgerald’s sign that lured so many of us into its trap for eight years has finally been turned off and Charlotte is reeling. The “American tavern with an Irish twist” solidified its place in the hearts of Charlotteans traipsing through the corner of Fifth and College Streets.
The sights of hundreds of bargoers and spots fans alike spilling out of the bar onto the patio or scattered throughout the bar in the warm light of night no longer to be seen. The food (and bartenders) that kept many coming back, no longer to be tasted. And the tradition of family gatherings, happy hours, and game nights no longer to be had. Fitzgerald’s you will be sorely missed.
Sammy’s Deli (1997-2020)
The finale of CIAA was bittersweet. In February, some bought flights to escape the city, some bought tickets to support the basketball tournament, and the majority bought tickets to some of the largest parties Charlotte has ever seen. Whether you were a participant or a hater, CIAA without a doubt brought thousands of visitors, millions of dollars of revenue to the city, and an explosion of culture that Charlotte often had to be reminded that it needed.
As with any large event, the annual week of parties came with its ups and downs, but it became a part of the fabric of the community. It is with resigned sadness (with a touch of indifference) but excitement for a new norm that Charlotte gives CIAA a warm goodbye and good tidings for success in Baltimore.
Thirsty Nomad Brewery (2016-2020)
La Belle Helene (2018-2020)
When La Belle Helene, an upscale French brasserie started construction on South Tryon Street, the interests of passersby and the palates of food connoisseurs were piqued.
And then insiders with the scoop started sharing their “sneak peeks” and the food scene was absolutely abuzz with anticipation of the grand opening and the chance to capture the picturesque cuisine, decor, and Instagrammable bathrooms.
After opening, La Belle Helene quickly became a coveted French culinary escape from the mundane from the passionate plating to the interior design.
Each detail was thoughtful and none were overlooked. Charlotte will yearn for a single bite from their favorite dish for many years to come. Au revoir Le Belle Helene!
Queen City Q (2012-2020)
Buffalo Exchange (2011-2020)
For the up-and-coming thrifter, Buffalo Exchange was a thrill ride. From the moment you walked into the store, the visual appeal of colorful used and vintage clothing would overtake your senses.
For seasoned thrifters, it was no secret that the prices were much higher than those at Goodwill and Value Village.
But there was something to be said about the care that the “pickers” took when deciding which items to purchase from sellers who brought clothing in — each item carefully examined and handpicked making the task of finding “good picks” for new shoppers pretty easy.
The look and smell of old, colorful clothing clisters brought comfort to the eyes and noses of many passersby on Central Avenue and will be missed dearly. The good news? You can still sell or trade your clothing by mail!
The People’s Market (2017-2020)
Wet Willie’s (2010-2020)
For many, Wet Wille’s was the go-to spot to get “wet” i.e. liquored up before and after a music or comedy show at the Music Factory. During the day, it may be a dead zone, but you didn’t need a large crowd when you ordered, “A large Call-A-Cab please with a jello shooter on the side.”
The diverse array of flavored icy, frozen drinks would summon a brain freeze for even the most seasoned of slushy connoisseurs, and yet, people kept going back for more. It was often a laughable venture when someone suggested that be the move, but now that it’s gone, the mouths of bargoers have gone dry.
If Charlotteans want to wet their whistle at Wet Willie’s now they’ll have to venture to Columbia, Beaufort, or Myrtle Beach in South Cack.
Chris’ Deli (1980-2020)
Lucky’s Bar & Arcade (2016-2020)
Following in the footsteps of the arcade game renaissance culture came Lucky’s Bar & Arcade, and it became the go-to spot for the casual gamer searching for a nightlife atmosphere.
It was often the spot that felt like a “Why not? I’m already here” decision when determining what to do next while bouncing around Uptown. After Lucky’s replaced the everso popular BAR Charlotte, many would argue that the “party hard, drink harder” mentality never left following the transition.
On busy nights, Lucky’s Bar & Arcade felt very much like a club. A few patrons sprinkled throughout may have been playing games intently while others were grabbing cocktails at the bar, dancing, and giving away the precious game coins they purchased upon entry.
While it may not have been THE ultimate arcade bar in Charlotte, it was greatly appreciated for the interactive appeal it brought to the Uptown nightlife scene. And the Nerds Rope cocktail will certainly be missed.
The Pink Hanger (2007-2020)
While some may have been intimidated by the world of wine, Laura Maniec, master sommelier and owner of Corkbuzz Wine Studio, created an atmosphere that was approachable, conversational, communal, and downright sexy when she opened the doors of Corkbuzz Restaurant & Wine Bar + The Cellar at Corkbuzz in Southpark.
Laura opened two Corkbuzz locations in New York before deciding to come on down to the South. And for those that had the chance to visit, they know that Corkbuzz stood out far beyond the rest when it came to the wine landscape of Charlotte.
Combine a wine menu that offers diversity in taste and selection with winemaker dinners, classes, private events, a stellar dinner and brunch menu, and then top it off with a boss-ass master sommelier, and well, you had quite the recipe for a delectable experience.
The good news? You can still get your “corkbuzz” on! The New York locations haven’t been closed permanently, virtual classes are still a go, and custom wine packages curated by Laura Maniec are still available.
The Wooden Vine Wine Bar & Bistro (2011-2020)
Elizabeth Billiards (1986-2020)
A bar name that only recently begged the question, “Why Elizabeth and not Plaza Midwood?” But if you know, you know.
Until November, Elizabeth Billiards was tucked behind CVS pharmacy on Pecan Avenue, a coveted favorite for regulars for 23 years, but before that it had been a hangout for pool sharks in the Elizabeth neighborhood since 1986.
That’s why there was a public outcry when owners announced they would be closing their doors for good … or at least until we hear news of a third location.
EB’s, as it was lovingly called, was the spot many went to play pool, shoot darts, hang out on the patio, and stumble out when the night came to a sad end. While Elizabeth Billiards’ chapter at this Plaza Midwood location may have ended, the story isn’t over.
Owners have assured us on social media that they will be looking for a new home soon. And while it won’t be quite the same, we can rest easy knowing we’ll see them again one day.
Yoga One (2006-2020)
Let’s keep it real, everyone’s hopped on the yoga train at some point under the notion that they would find the inner peace, sobriety, balance, serenity or the keys to the universe they’ve always been looking for. And most of the time, that search ended after a mere two or three sessions. But Yoga One was a whole different beast when it came to attracting ride-or-die yogis. What at first felt “cool, cozy, and trendy” for the newbies just trying to figure it out, soon felt like home, a part of their routine.
You’ve heard about the idea “six degrees of separation?” There was a time where name dropping Yoga One, a friend’s name you went with to a class, or an instructor would conjure someone in the room who was a regular attendee, who became a licensed instructor, or who discovered their obsession with yoga there. Best believe, the yoga community will be reeling over this loss.
Rooftop 210 (2008-2020)
Three words: Alive After Five. Anyone who attended AA5 in the EpiCentre back in the day knows that Thursday night happy hours weren’t complete until you made your way to the top floor at Rooftop 210. If you did it right, you pregamed elsewhere and were good and saucy before attempting to rub shoulders with strangers pretending to have the funds (unless you were in banking) to support the expensive cocktails you were about to purchase. If it wasn’t for AA5, you were there for rooftop concerts with skyline views, or pay-to-party events like New Year’s Eve.
Whatever your purpose, any EpiCentre-goer landed on the Rooftop and most likely stumbled off into a taxi after. Oh the memories (or lack thereof) we will have to hold onto.
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