The waitress filled my cup with black coffee before I even got settled into the corner booth last Saturday morning. I don’t even have to open the menu anymore — I get the same thing every time. The waitress smiled, knowing what I’m going to say before I even start — two eggs (scrambled), livermush, hash browns and biscuits.
The restaurant is called Liberty East. It sits in the middle of the never-ending construction along Independence Boulevard, near Idlewild Road. You may never have noticed it, and if you did you might have thought it was closed, like so much along that stretch. It’s not. It used to be open 24/7, but now it’s just open for breakfast and lunch (and dinner, if you eat it before 4 p.m.).
And it’s my favorite place to get breakfast in Charlotte.
Why? It’s simple. The people are friendly. Much of the staff has worked there for years, and they know the regulars. One waitress, Myra Pendry, has worked there more than 20 years and was featured in Charlotte Magazine. A framed copy of the article hangs behind the cash register.
I can roll out of bed wearing gym shorts, a T-shirt and hat. The food’s pretty good, with a menu of eggs, bacon, pancakes, omelets, country ham, etc., plus lunch. The coffee’s not bad.
Liberty East opened in 1977. It feels classic, like old Charlotte, a kind of Charlotte that’s hard to find, that’s being torn down and replaced with apartments.
And it’s cheap. My breakfast costs about $5 and it fills me up ’til dinnertime.
I don’t understand the obsession with brunch. I mean, I get eating breakfast food at lunchtime (or dinnertime), but I don’t get the capital-B Brunch phenomenon, with its mimosas and bloody marys and long waits and overpriced food. When did breakfast get so complicated?
Sure, you can get some amazing breakfast creations at some local spots (the Bunny Rancheros at Zada Jane’s is killer), but breakfast, to me, is beautiful in its simplicity.
There’s probably a spot like Liberty East in most neighborhoods, the old diner with its black coffee, two-eggs-and-a-meat menu, the friendly staff and the guy in his favorite booth reading every page of the newspaper. (I love that guy.) The place that makes Charlotte feel like the small town it used to be, and still is in some ways.
That’s what I want. You can keep your brunch. I’ll be at Liberty East, where they know I like my livermush crispy.
Liberty East, 5112 E. Independence Blvd., Charlotte.
Photos: Corey Inscoe