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Obituaries 2023: RIP to the Charlotte Businesses We Lost


We’ve seen plenty of businesses close this year, be it through rising rents, retirement, new plans, or in the case of one business, the death of a beloved restaurateur. Whatever the case, we hope the memories remain fond ones.

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La’Wan’s Soul Food Restaurant (2000-2023)

In August, three months after the death of her husband, co-owner Kenny Adams, local restaurateur La’Wan Adams announced in a Facebook post that popular Steele Creek eatery La’Wan’s Soul Food would close its doors for good.

“From the very first day we opened our doors, it has been an incredible journey filled with growth, learning, and most importantly, the unwavering support of all of you. Your loyalty has been the driving force behind every step we’ve taken,” read a statement signed by La’Wan and family.

However, the statement did leave room for new ventures from La’Wan.

“Kenneth’s unwavering dedication, passion, and innovative spirit has been the driving force behind our journey. As we navigate this difficult time, we also embrace the opportunities ahead. As we embark on this new adventure, Kenneth’s legacy will always be kept alive.”


Paper Plane Deli & Market (2020-2023)

Opened in 2020 by Amanda Cranford, Paper Plane Deli & Market had served as a hub for the community in the Advent coworking space (now hygge coworking). It brought space for people to enjoy conversation over coffee and delicious food ranging from breakfast items like bagels and pastries to lunch items like their perfect BLT.

Cranford has had over a decade of experience with restaurants — more than seven building up her skills at Reid’s Fine Foods.

Paper airplanes hang from the ceiling inside Paper Plane Deli & Market
Paper Plane Deli & Market (Courtesy of Amanda Cranford)

Paper Plane was the perfect place, especially for the staff here at Nerve, to grab a quick bite before going back to work. Everyone who worked there was extremely friendly, and the space was extremely inviting.

Their market had a lot to offer, including vinyl records supplied by Premium Sound and other knick-knacks for purchase. The seasonal flavors for their lattes were divine as well, but most importantly, Paper Plane provided a space for community. The good news: Cranford will continue to cultivate the same sense of community over at Plaza Midwood staple Dish.


Hot Box Next Level Kitchen (2013-2023)

First opened inside Concord’s Southern Strain Brewing Co. facility in 2012, the goal for Hot Box Next Level Kitchen was to create dishes from scratch and bring street-level pub food to tap rooms around Charlotte.

Founder and head chef, Michael Bowling has always had a dream to bring joy to people through food. His passion radiates through his entrées and hospitality. Hot Box will be missed, but we look forward to following Bowling’s journey as general manager of CFT Market, a new marketplace and food-centered community hub in the Hoskins neighborhood that broke ground in August.


POPLAR Tapas (2016-2023)

The owners of popular Fourth Ward restaurant POPLAR Tapas announced they would be shutting the doors there for good in the first week of October. Co-owners Lucia Zapata Griffith and Bruno Macchiavello opened the restaurant in 2016. They expressed their gratitude to neighbors and patrons in a release announcing the closure.

“The journey over these seven years has been remarkable, filled with cherished memories and unparalleled community support,” their statement read.

Folks eat on the patio of a historic home at Poplar Tapas with lights strewn about above them
Folks enjoy an evening on the patio at POPLAR Tapas. (Photo courtesy of POPLAR Tapas)

However, the duo did insist that their journey together in the culinary industry is not over, announcing that they plan to announce a new venture in the coming months.

“This is not a goodbye but a brief interlude,” Griffith and Macchiavello said in their joint statement. “We ask our patrons and the community to stay tuned for an exciting new dining experience that will continue POPLAR’s legacy of building community around the table.”


Akropolis Cafe (1990-2023)

Last Halloween was particularly scary for patrons of one of Charlotte’s longest running Greek restaurants. By the end of the business day on All Hallows’ Eve, Akropolis Cafe on Providence Road had given up the ghost, closing permanently after 33 years in business. Beloved for a menu based on the Greek basics of gyros, kebabs, Greek salads, souvlaki and spanakopita, the establishment launched in 1990 at the Eastland Mall. Two years later, Mike Sadri became owner, and subsequently moved the cafe to The Arboretum in the early 1990s.

At the height of Akropolis Cafe’s popularity, Sadri expanded, extending franchises out to seven locations, including Gastonia, Matthews and Ballantyne. In time, each location closed, save for the 2,200-square-foot cafe at The Arboretum. Plagued by dwindling staff and ill health, Sadri finally extinguished Akropolis Cafe’s torch.


Sandwich Max (1993-2023)

Sandwich Max has left East 7th Street permanently and also closed its newer location on South Boulevard, limiting our options for great sandwiches in Charlotte. Compared to the 20,000 Subway locations across the US, Sandwich Max made deceptively simple sandwiches with great ingredients at reasonable prices. Of special note was the vegetable selection, which went way beyond LTO and provided enough options for a veggie sandwich that didn’t taste like leftover salad.

In hip neighborhoods where it seems like every restaurant is striving for James Beard awards and hundred-dollar covers, spots that provide good food at fair prices should be protected at all costs. If you never had a chance to try the OG Sandwich Max locations, don’t fret; the concept is reborn in carryout form at South End Eats food hall on Summit Avenue.


Green’s Lunch (1926-2023)

When Robert Green bought an old lunch counter in 1926, Charlotte had a total population of 100,000 people, and big banks, drawn by cotton manufacturing money, were poised to erect the skyscrapers that would dominate the skyline.

Green’s menu consisted of hot dogs, chips and Coca-Cola. According to the shuttered restaurant’s still extant website. Green was succeeded by his daughter-in-law, Mary Green, who added chili to the menu. The community became so enamored with Mary that she marched in local Christmas parades as “Mary Green, the Hot Dog Queen.”

In 1975, Philip Katopodis bought the restaurant and expanded it from 400 square feet to 1,500. He also added coleslaw to the menu. The restaurant’s location was put up for sale for $3 million in 2022 — but it wasn’t until June 2023 that the oldest restaurant in Charlotte permanently closed its doors, ending an eventful 97-year run.


Gus’ Sir Beef (1969-2023)

The Original Gus’ Sir Beef sign on Monroe Road reads ‘Fresh My Farm’ Vegetables and confused drivers in east Charlotte for half a century. In 2018, then-Creative Loafing Charlotte editor Ryan Pitkin sent then-intern Alexandria Sands to investigate.

It turns out that English-challenged restaurant founder Gus Bacogeorge had meant to write ‘fresh from my farm,’ but the phrase came out truncated. Gus also sold “beef” and included ‘sir’ as a sign of respect.

Gus’ son Thrace took charge of the restaurant after his father passed away. In April the restaurant posted on Facebook: “Gus’ Sir Beef will be closing its door for good … We will miss the opportunity to say our farewells [to] … customers, family and close friends that have made Gus’ everything it was, is and will always be; a place to come home to … and a place to make new friends.”


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