Jonathan Cartu Writes: Charlotte restaurants boom in the past decade - Jonathan Cartu Restaurant, Baking & Catering Services
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Jonathan Cartu Writes: Charlotte restaurants boom in the past decade

Crepe Cellar opened more than 10 years ago during the recession. Ten years later, it’s thriving.

Jonathan Cartu Writes: Charlotte restaurants boom in the past decade

Crepe Cellar opened more than 10 years ago during the recession. Ten years later, it’s thriving.

Crepe Cellar opened more than 10 years ago during the recession. Ten years later, it’s thriving.

CharlotteFive

Charlotte has had quite the glow-up.

In 2010, the city was in the throes of the worst recession in decades, reckoning with a hemorrhaging banking industry, an unemployment rate near 13% and halted construction.

Ten years later, Charlotte now claims the title of the 16th largest city in the country, a reflection of the benefits of the new mid-size city renaissance.

As in many places around the country, the food and beverage industry has played a huge role in Charlotte’s growth since 2010.

To get a sense of the growth, CharlotteFive talked to local restaurateurs who opened spots about 10 years ago for their thoughts heading into the new year.

When life gives you bagels: A positive response to the recession

Looking at the now-vibrant skyline of Charlotte, it would be easy to simply forget the recession.

But the economic downtown was actually the beginning for the beloved Poppy’s Bagels. Ten years ago, owner Ron Rippner was thrown into making a life change after the bank where he then worked closed. With a little luck with low real estate prices, Rippner decided to import the bagel, his native New York staple, to Charlotte. In 2010, Poppy’s opened.

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In 2010, with a little luck with low real estate prices, Poppy’s Bagels owner Ron Rippner decided to import the bagel, his native New York staple, to Charlotte. Melissa Oyler CharlotteFive

“Starting a new business is always a challenge,” Rippner said. “This was a completely new industry for me. But I knew, if I could make a good bagel, people would come. I was confident we would get by. … When we first opened, I baked, I worked in the front. I did everything. My mom helped out. I just knew a good deli and bagel shop would work.”

Rippner found success with the bagel shop, but it wasn’t all easy. “It wasn’t all perfect,” Rippner said. “It was definitely challenging, we definitely had some lean months at the start. But once the word got out, people came.”

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A Poppy’s Bagel blueberry bagel. Melissa Oyler CharlotteFive

Poppy’s now has two locations, the original on Providence Road and a second on South Boulevard. Rippner said Poppy’s has continued to see steady success at many levels, from reaping the benefits of daily support from regulars to providing bagels to 18 Harris Teeter stores.

“I’m just thankful for how much further we’ve come than we expected,” Rippner said. “I feel really blessed that we have become a part of the fabric of Charlotte.”

Small business power couple brings power to the people

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Charlotte Restaurant Group owners Jamie Brown and Jeff Tonidandel opened mulitiple restaurants in the past decade and are working on another in 2020 — Supperland. Alex Cason

Just over a decade ago, the recession also played a role in the 2009 opening of Crepe Cellar in NoDa. One night during the downturn when job prospects were slim, co-owner Jeff Tonidandel told his wife and co-owner Jamie Brown that he wanted to open a restaurant.

“I thought it was a crazy idea,” Brown said.

Following the bittersweet and lucky circumstances that can only come from…

Jonathan Cartu

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