Carolina Family Restaurant in Charlotte NC on standby since 1976

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The chef of the Carolina Family Restaurant prepares a breakfast plate with bacon and eggs.

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I must have walked past the modest brick building over a hundred times over the years. After entering the Carolina Family restaurant recently, I wish I had stopped earlier. The old school, unpretentious vibes hit me immediately, making me feel more like Mayberry than a bustling city struggling with growing pains.

Many Charlotte residents, myself included, pass the Carolina Family Restaurant most often on their way down Wilkinson Boulevard to or from Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

“When my dad bought this building in 1976, Wilkinson was a huge thoroughfare,” Maria Kotros, who runs the restaurant, told CharlotteFive. “He heard Harvey Gantt talk about revitalizing the West Side and was excited to open a restaurant here. “

The restaurant at 4600 Wilkinson Blvd. was not his first, however. Kotros’ father owned and operated Eat Well Grill on Trade Street in the 1950s and Pete’s Grill on South Boulevard in the 1960s and 1970s.

It wasn’t until Pepsi Bottling Ventures chose not to renew its lease on South Boulevard that it decided to buy the building on Wilkinson. Kotros said the building where the Carolina Family Restaurant is located has been around since the 1930s. During a renovation a few years ago, workers discovered a picture window, indicating that it was once a resort. -service.

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Maria Kotros and Gus Garvrilis are the siblings who own the Carolina Family Restaurant. Alex Cason Photography Charlotte five

What to eat

Some of the Carolina Family Restaurant’s best sellers include beef tips, country fried steaks, burgers, and Philly sandwiches, but that wasn’t always the plan. “We originally served Greek food – authentic, homemade Greek food,” Kotros said. “But the demand was not there. People wanted meat and three (vegetables).

There are still hints of Greek influence, however. Kotros takes pride in the restaurant’s homemade salad dressings, including the Greek dressing that her father agreed to share with her only after her health deteriorated.

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A grilled chicken salad at Carolina Family Restaurant. Alex Cason Photography Charlotte five

There is no shortage of comfort food. On my visit, daily specials included a large bacon cheeseburger, grilled cheese sandwich, and homemade vegetable soup, as well as pork chops with rice and gravy. Breakfast specials are equally generous, including eggs, bacon, sausage, rolls, oatmeal, homemade fries, and grated hash browns.

Everyone I’ve spoken to has mentioned the beef tips so they’re on my radar to give it a try soon. If you go for lunch make sure you save room for dessert – ultimate chocolate cake and strawberry cheesecakes were on the menu when I went.

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Beef tips at the Carolina Family Restaurant. Alex Cason Photography Charlotte five

For decades, newcomers and regulars have been returning for much-requested American dishes. The restaurant has also seen its fair share of celebrities over the years. University of Miami women’s basketball coach Katie Meier stopped by a few weeks ago, former governor Pat McCrory has had dinner several times and actor Zach Galifianakis has already had a meal there. -low. (When told he looked like Galifianakis, without revealing his identity, the comedian replied, “I understand a lot.”

Like a big family

Kotros grew up in the restaurant and remembers standing on a carton of milk to do the dishes when it was understaffed. Her teenage children are now helping out on the weekends, coming full circle. “My dad lived and breathed this restaurant,” Kotros said. “He never took time off. Same for me, it’s a lot of work, but I love it.

The majority of breakfast patrons are regulars. Many of them wait outside when the doors open at 6 a.m., largely because of customer service. “We want to know the names and order the oddities,” Kotros said. “When you walk in here you should feel right at home. ”

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The dining rooms of the Carolina Family Restaurant. Alex Cason Photography Charlotte five

Apparently it works – Kaye Cain was greeted by all the hostesses in the restaurant as she brought her great-grandson to pick up a take-out order. “I’ve been a regular since the day they opened,” Cain told CharlotteFive. “It’s like a big family. I tell everyone to come here, and I bring people here. It’s family and food to me.

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The Carolina Family Restaurant gyroscope. Alex Cason Photography Charlotte five

Caroline family restaurant

Location: 4600, boul. Wilkinson, Charlotte, North Carolina 28208

Neighborhood: West Charlotte / Westerly Hills

Menu

Cuisine: American, comfort cuisine

Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To order: dine on site or call 704-394-9249 for pickup


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Philip’s work with the city connects him to the neighborhoods of Charlotte. Outside of the clock, he often explores public art, plays outside, or tries out new dishes. Follow him on Twitter @philipfreeman


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