Event recap: Greg and Subrina Collier on what’s next for Black-owned restaurants

Event recap: Greg and Subrina Collier on what’s next for Black-owned restaurants
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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.”

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  • “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.

To get on the invite list for our next event, become an Axios Charlotte member here.

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