Leah & Louise owners Greg and Subrina Collier want to build the first Black-owned restaurant group in Charlotte with a portfolio of restaurants, they said at an Axios Charlotte members-only virtual event Thursday.
Why it matters: There’s no shortage of talented Black chefs, bartenders and mixologists in Charlotte’s restaurant scene — but investment is scarce.
- The Colliers have opened four restaurants over the past decade, and they’ve never taken a bank loan. “Banks don’t want to give money to restaurants,” Greg said, “and it’s even harder when you’re a Black-owned business.”
It’s ironic for a banking city like Charlotte to have banks that are inaccessible for entrepreneurs, they said. “I’d like to see … more big names — your Bank of America, your Wells Fargo, your BB&T SunTrust [Truist] — put money into Black restaurants, Black businesses,” Greg said.
The Colliers’ newest restaurant Leah & Louise has won a number of accolades since it opened about a year ago, including being named No. 2 on Esquire’s list of best new restaurants in America.
Despite the restaurant’s acclaim, Greg said the restaurant is “doing about half as good as we would be doing if there wasn’t a pandemic.”
- “We’re doing OK. We know we’re not getting rich. We’re really happy with what we’re doing,” he added.
What’s next: The Colliers plan to grow their portfolio of restaurants; they currently operate Leah & Louise and The Yolk in 7th Street Public Market.
- Subrina said Greg has lots of ideas, but they weren’t ready to share any specifics yet. (I’ll keep bugging them for details!)
- They’re also planning “something big” this October, they said, comparing the project to a few large-scale festivals in Charlotte.
- Plus, Soul Food Sessions, the dinner series they helped found to highlight local Black chefs, will be back as soon as the pandemic eases up.
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