Monday, July 6, 2009

Closings, big and small

Closings at both ends of the dining spectrum:

The Oceanaire Seafood Room
, a SouthPark-area fine dining destination, and the three-decade-plus diner landmark San Remo's on Central Avenue, have closed.

So have the Sonny's on Monroe Road, which had operated in that spot for 31 years, and Sugar Magnolia, a nearly-3-year-old Lowcountry venture in south Charlotte's Blakeney.

Five other Sonny's continue to operate barbecue restaurants in the Charlotte area; Sonny's declined to renew the license agreement at the Monroe Road location, perhaps because of volume, according to a spokesperson for the local franchisee.

Oceanaire is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, confirmed a spokesperson, and is closing three other locations: Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Seattle.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gosh, this economy continues to affect some of my favorite restaurants. I will certainly miss Oceanaire and Sugar Magnolia.

Anonymous said...

There should be a law passed requiring Sonny's to remove the "word" BBQ from their name. It's more like Arby's with pork rather than beef. Good salad bar and chicken but a poor excuse for BBQ.

Anonymous said...

Used to love going to San Remo after nightclubbing in the wee hours. But alas my old part of town has become so dangerous due to the gangbangers and illegals that they had to shut down before anyone got killed. So sad.

Anonymous said...

Sugar Magnolia was so awful I got deathly ill and had food poisoning. All our wines glasses look like they werent washed in a week. Its about time unsanitary places close even in hot spots of charlotte.

Anonymous said...

The Sugar Magnolia was an over priced average at best eating house......Sorry to see the Oceanaire closing.....Sonny's on old Monroe road was a great family place, we will miss it.......I am afraid that there will be more to come...............

Anonymous said...

Just the beginning, wait till stores in Southpark close.

kickazzz2000 said...

Used to love goin to San Remo at 3am. That place will be missed...

Anonymous said...

I could not believe it when I saw that Good Old Days had closed at the Arboretum!! That place has been a main stay the entire 11 yrs. I have lived here. Very, very sad to myself and the family.

Anonymous said...

Oceanaire was terribly overpriced for the seafood provided. People in Charlotte will not pay Morton's prices for ala cart fish. Upstream and others in town have better seafood at a more reasonable price.

Anonymous said...

I think it's funny that someone with, supposed finer tastes in BBQ, criticizes Sonny's BBQ - yet says they have a good salad bar. That salad bar was good I guess--for people longing for a throw back to Western Steers--with fake cheese and imitation bacon bits. Would love to see what good BBQ is based on those standards. Perhaps BBQ in a can? If imitation crab meat is possible..I guess anything is.

Anonymous said...

Drove by Sonny's on Monroe Rd. on Friday and saw it boarded up. How sad. I moved to Charlotte in early 1979 just as Sonny's opened that restaurant. Went there many times. ....Like an old friend has passed away.
On a brighter note, we had a $50 gift card for Oceanaire. Went there 10 days ago to use it (and still spent another $75). The dinner was good for a special occation, but not necessarily a good value. I'm glad I used the gift card, otherwise it would be worthless.

Anonymous said...

Good Old Days did a lot of great things in the community, especially during Christmas.

John said...

Oceanaire opened based purely on demographics and a good sales job by the real estate people. Upstream has a better product and a loyal following. Funny--Guytanos said they were going to send Upstream--Downstream--Mortons was going to show everybody REAL STEAK, etc. These big players come into the market without knowing how fickle and hard to please the Charlotte crowd is--There will be more high end places "going dark" unless the companies have significant resources or no debt.

Anonymous said...

Oceanaire is pricey but the food and service outstanding! The Atlanta location will remain open and Charlotte will remain a Red Lobster town. Sad.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Knife and Fork, Athens, now San Remos. Where are people now going to go after clubbing? Is Skyland next???

Anonymous said...

People in Charlotte won't pay those prices because people in Charlotte don't have any money. I live in an upscale neighborhood and I see Papa Johns and Dominos delivering constantly. This neighborhood is the demographic these upscale places need yet these people eat frozen fast food pizza all the time. Charlotte is white trash and full of fake money.

heavymetal said...

To Anon 3:45.... it's apparent that you don't venture over to the Eastside very often, for all you're doing is regurgitating all the bad press that side of town gets.
San Remo's succombed because the close-by demographics don't support a family-owned restaurant showcasing mostly American fare.
I know that because I was a "regular" over there.

It wasn't because they were afraid of getting killed.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, gotta love it here. When the fast food restaurants are busier than places with actual GOOD FOOD you know you live in a "world class city" HAHAHA.

Anonymous said...

Please dont be closing my Captain D's.

Anonymous said...

Made it to the Oceanaire finally on Friday night, excellent service, excellent seafood, definitely high dollar. Dining room was empty. Patio busy during the rush. Oh well, back to McCormick and Schmick's, Upstream.

The Boomer said...

Charlotte's restaurant problem is a case of extremes - too many high end/pricey choices and too many low end/cheap/franchise restaurants and nothing in the middle - i.e. good food, variety of choice, entrees in the $9 to $15 range tops.

If we want to splurge then places like Upstream, Oceanaire, Mortons, Sugar Magnolias are great. BUT for everyday dining out, there is little to choose from above a Showmars and the tired old franchises like Olive Garden, Macaroni Grill, etc. Charlotte restauranteurs need to get a grip that the wealthy bankers, brokers and investment gurus aren't here with money to burn anymore.

There are plenty of middle and upper middle class families that don't want pizza and take out every night, but are sick and tired of entrees starting at $12 to $25+ for so-so food and paying for ambience, adress and food presentation.

We need some middle of the road, good quality, fairly priced, family friendly places that want you keep your business beyond the first visit.

How about it?? Anyone paying attention out there??

Anonymous said...

Next on the cutting block per the rumor mill: Ruth's Chris uptown

Anonymous said...

Sadly, Liberty East is just about the only 24 hour diner left. I've never had greasier food in my life. We live just down the street but NEVER go.

Those of you scared to visit East Charlotte eateries are missing out big time!

Anonymous said...

Hey The Boomer, ever tried places like Cantina 1511, Dolce, Portofino's, Toscana, Fiamma, Beef & Bottle or Lulu? There are PLENTY of those options out there, you just have to know where to look.

I've heard the same about Ruth's uptown being next on the chopping block. Del Frisco's would already be toast too, were it not for the absolutely extreme build out costs, tenant allowances paid by the LL and hence, iron clad lease guarantees. Ol' Johnny himself would get into the restaurant business before he allowed that one to close.

Anonymous said...

High end restaurants are closing on a weekly pace across the country. This isn't a Charlotte thing, it's due to the overall national economy, high unemployment and high debt load of these chains.

Anonymous said...

those looking for a cool place with excellent food for cheap should check out Soul Gastrolounge on Pecan/Central. that place is awesome, although they could have a better beer selection.

Anonymous said...

The Landmark is still open and going strong. It's right beside San Remo and is open late. I live in the neighborhood right behind The Landmark - and the comment about gangbangers is far, far from the truth. Not every neighborhood can look like Meyers Park, nor should they. That doesn't mean there's high crime. The look of East Charlotte is the product of poor planning and poor code enforcement buy Charlotte leaders. Middle-class, working, East Charlotte residents are the backbone of Charlotte. As folks reconsider living in far-flung McMansions and increasingly don't qualify for high-end mortgages, those close in neighborhoods of the 1950s and 60s will continue to be an attractive option for 1000s of Charlotte residents.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for a good mid-priced restaurant, give Bricktops a try - just behind SouthPark Mall on Morrison. Great food, friendly bar, reasonable prices and fantastic service.

Anonymous said...

"Oceanaire is pricey but the food and service outstanding! The Atlanta location will remain open and Charlotte will remain a Red Lobster town. Sad."

Along with Philadelphia and Seattle, either of which is a far superior place to that carbuncle of the southeast and monument to white trash, uhlanna.

Anonymous said...

What I think is sad about this whole mess we are in, is the fact that much of it is self-inflicted. Sure, there are real problems that are embedded in sub-prime mortgages, credit-default swaps, evaporating credit from banks, and so on. But much of our problems are tied to reduced spending by consumers and we have been talked into it by the non-stop 24/7 media who can't wait to report the next plunging or spiraling or crashing statistic. Now that we all have holed up with our money, businesses suffer and things aren't being sold, so layoffs and closures follow and more contraction of spending occurs. Eventually, tax revenues decline on all levels and budgets are cut and services are cut and teachers lose their jobs...and the cycle continues. The county government can't just print more money like the Feds, so reality bites, and we all suffer.

When we spend freely, we all prosper. When we stuff our money in the mattress we all suffer. That's Economics 101. I know it is hard not to stuff it when we are under a constant barrage of doom & gloom. That's human nature 101....hoard the essentials to weather the storm....it's a viscious cycle and so hard for many as the boom is louder for some than others.

More closings to come, until we collectively start spending...and that will be hard to re-start.

Anonymous said...

I just returned from my annual 2 week trip to Chicago where there are many restaurants that serve fine food, and with great service for $10 to $15 a meal. None of these restaurants are chains!

Charlotte needs more restaurants like that and not more "Fake" high end restaurants.

One can experience a better steak and/or sea food at one of the big national chains than at many of the "fine" dinning establishments in Charlotte.

I have ate many times at all of the great restaurants in Charlotte, and none of them have great wine list. They only have average bottles for very expensive prices.

The recession is weeding out the mediocure restaurants and a few good ones. The strong, great ones will servive.


Let us all support, as we can, our favorite fine restaurants.

Anonymous said...

"Charlotte's restaurant problem is a case of extremes - too many high end/pricey choices and too many low end/cheap/franchise restaurants and nothing in the middle - i.e. good food, variety of choice, entrees in the $9 to $15 range tops."

AMEN! My wife and I say that all the time. and please... something with character too.

Anonymous said...

Also closed in the last month Billie Jeans in Gastonia after 19 years and Carolina Country BBQ after many,many years..Both within a 1/2 mile of each other

Anonymous said...

This is only the beginning. All across America we will see empty buildings. The greatest DEPRESSION IS COMING.

Anonymous said...

I was very sad to see that Good Old Days had closed as well. Very friendly owners and staff, a giant menu selection, and good food at a reasonable price. I hope everybody from there is doing okay - they did some nice charitable work.

Anonymous said...

I think Landmark (just a few doors down from San Remo) is 24 hours.

Anonymous said...

I remember when they built San Remo about 36 years ago, worked at A&P in the same parking lot and lived around half a mile from there. Live about 4 miles away now that we returned to Charlotte. For years the place didn't even have locks on the door. Knew things were getting bad when we drove by one night and they were closed.

Landmark used to be open 24 hours. Think now that might only be on weekends and maybe not even then. We stopped in about 3 weeks ago around 9:30 PM on the way back from a trip to the emergency room. From the dress and chugging going on at some of the tables around us, felt more like a biker bar than a resturant. We ate and got out as fast as we could. Ah, yes. The old area has definently changed and not for the better.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that San Remo had to close their doors. Sadly that area has turned in to a not so red hot area. I never went to Oceanair. I read the reviews and they were so-so from what I read and known people that went. Some loved it or did not care much for it. As for Sonny's, That was unfortunate. The location was a little difficult to see when coming into town. There will be a void for BBQ somewhat for that area. I did try out Gus's Sir Beef down the street and it was great and reasonable. Just shows how the economy is. Very sad shape :(.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 4:09 PM- Good BBQ can be found at Bubba's,Spoons, Bridges, Smithfield Chicken & BBQ, etc. Hell, the BBQ at Bank of America Stadium is not bad. Compared to those places, Sonny's is a poor excuse for BBQ. As far as their salad bar, it was good about 15 years ago, the last time I ate there. What's your idea of a good BBQ joint?

heavymetal said...

I've never liked Landmark except for coffee and a late-night dessert.
I'll be interested to see how long Sunrise on Albemarle Rd lasts.

Liberty East's food is ok, I've never found it to be overly greasy, and the service is outstanding. More often than not, I get carry-out from there.

Anonymous said...

So sad to see San Remo's closing my sister and I enjoyed grabbing a bite to eat at 3am. I'm sure there will be more closings to come.

Bruce Hensley said...

So sad when any good restaurant closes. The Oceanaire Seafood Room completely understood how to procure, prepare and serve the best and freshest seafood possible. I worked with them for 19 months and learned more about the intricacies of fresh, high-quality seafood than in my previous 30 years. OSR also introduced us to the restaurant week concept and strongly encouraged us to bring it to Charlotte. Thanks OSR!

Anonymous said...

just called landmark and the response was 'yes, we are open all the time'

Anonymous said...

I thought GW Fins had the best creative seafood dishes. My next favorite was the Oceanaire. Although pricey did have a fresh product. Now their both "belly up". It is a shame because I love fresh high end seafood restaurants.