After more than 30 years, Carpe Diem Restaurant won’t reopen its doors after closing in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nearby sister concept, Earl’s Grocery is removing its seating and shifting to takeout only.
Sisters Bonnie Warford and Tricia Maddrey opened Carpe Diem in 1989. A white tablecloth American restaurant, Carpe Diem was known for its consistency in the kitchen — a trait often overlooked in Charlotte’s flashy dining scene. The restaurant also lost its longtime chef Paul Ketterhagen last fall.
As other restaurants began to reopen during phase two of Governor Roy Cooper’s reopening plan, Carpe Diem’s lease was up so they made the decision to not reopen.
“(We) have always shown tenacity,” Warford says. “We lost a lot of money with shutting down, and we feel that reopening would be a big financial investment that (we) would likely lose. If Covid had not happened, we would have renewed our lease.”
Carpe Diem isn’t the first restaurant to not reopen after coronavirus. The Summit Room announced its closure in May on Instagram, saying “A small, neighborhood, full service restaurant isn’t made for masks, 6 feet distancing and 50% capacity.”
One block east on Elizabeth Avenue, Earl’s Grocery will shift to a to-go only model. Also owned by Warford and Maddrey, Earl’s has long been a fusion of gourmet grocery store and café.
Now, it’ll lean into the grocery side of Earl’s as a way to pandemic-proof the business.
The grill area and coffee counter at Earl’s have been removed, at least for the time being. Grocery shelves have replaced indoor seating. Outdoor seating remains.
Earl’s will continue carrying local goods like Chef Alyssa’s Spreads, Pure Intentions Coffee, and Cannizzaro sauces, along with everyday brands and speciality items.
Earl’s takeout menu merges dishes from both Carpe Diem and Earl’s. Expect Carpe Diem’s beloved buttermilk fried chicken and Earl’s harvest salad, among other options.
“We’ll have themed weekly takeout and in-store grab and go that reflects the best of both businesses menu styles,” Warford says.
Curbside pickup is currently available, and online ordering is on the way. For now, call 704-333-2757 to place your order. The to-go menu is available 3 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday for pickup at Earl’s, located at 1609 Elizabeth Avenue.