The future of the beloved Brooks Sandwich House in NoDa is uncertain.
The Brooks family is considering what’s next for the business and its land, including a possible sale, as first reported by development writer Jason Thomas.
Why it matters: Brooks Sandwich House is a Charlotte institution. The Brooks family has been serving burgers and chili cheese dogs from a small red brick building for almost five decades, even after a tragic shooting took the life of co-owner Scott Brooks in 2019.
- A cash-only spot in an increasingly cashless world, Brooks has remained one of the few places in Charlotte where you can buy a burger for just a few bucks.
Context: Brooks’ is on a prominent one-acre property in NoDa where Brevard Street curves, just off North Davidson. The 480-square-foot building is a relic in a neighborhood that’s seen dramatic change recently. The property, just steps away from NoDa’s main commercial drag, is surrounded by new high-end townhomes and apartments.
- The Brooks family owns the building, as well as the land around it that they’ve long used for parking and for some outdoor seating.
Over the years, Brooks’ has been approached by all sorts of businesses interested in its land, from parking vendors to food truck operators.
Of note: Brooks does not have plans to close any time soon. The family isn’t even sure they’re set on selling. They’re just exploring what their next chapter looks like. “We’d be dumb not to,” Frances Brooks tells me.
- David Brooks, Frances’ husband and a co-owner of the business, turns 65 next month.
- “I don’t want to retire, but we need to explore the possibilities. Everything is up in the air right now,” David says.
The Nichols Co. is working with the Brooks family on listing the property.
“We are exploring the potential possibility of them selling in the future. These kinds of deals typically take a year or longer to put together,” says John Nichols, founder and president of the Nichols Co.
- There’s no price for the property, per Nichols.
Flashback: C.T. Brooks started the sandwich shop in 1973, back when NoDa was called North Charlotte, a neighborhood filled with not breweries and trendy restaurants, but mill houses with their own downtown, as Axios contributor Kathleen Purvis wrote. Brooks’ twin sons, Scott and David, later took over the family business.
- In mid 2019, the Brooks brothers donated 2.1 acres that their father bought in Sharon Forest in the 1950s. It was land, Purvis wrote, that C.T. had purchased as an investment for his sons’ future. It’s now to be used for affordable housing.
- In late 2019, co-owner Scott Brooks was shot and killed when he arrived at the shop before 5am to unlock the restaurant and start making breakfast. The family discontinued breakfast and weekend hours.
Zoom out: Longtime Charlotteans and newcomers alike have embraced Brooks’, supporting the business after Scott’s death and through the pandemic.
On a recent sunny afternoon, customers pulled up and left disappointed after learning the restaurant was closed for the day, its owners on vacation.
- Herb Powers, who hails from eastern North Carolina but has lived in Charlotte since 1968, has been a Brooks’ customer since 1987. He says he’d hate to see the family-run business close.
- “Best in town,” he says of the burgers and hotdogs slathered in house-made chili. “There’s nowhere else in Charlotte left like this.”
What’s next: Brooks’ Sandwich House is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Saturday, June 24. The day will feature lots of food and festivities, plus apparel like T-shirts and hats for sale.