Food & Drink

With the closing of a pioneering cafe, the best banana pudding in Charlotte is gone

The banana pudding at Savor Cafe in Charlotte was topped with a circular marshmallow creme that was lightly browned.
The banana pudding at Savor Cafe in Charlotte was topped with a circular marshmallow creme that was lightly browned.

A popular cafe that was a key part of the renaissance of a thriving neighborhood near uptown has closed a year after the original owner sold it and handed over her recipes to a new owner.

Savor Cafe, 1404 W. Morehead St., officially closed July 1, and an eviction notice has now been posted. Both the current owner, Jason Astephen, and the property manager, Chris Wannamaker, confirmed the restaurant was closed but refused to comment further.

Savor was originally opened by Lori Pearson and her husband, Shane. The Pearsons came to Charlotte from Charleston when Shane Pearson was a chef-instructor at Johnson & Wales University. Shane Pearson later died. When Lori Pearson was diagnosed with cancer, members of the restaurant community and neighbors from the area, sometimes called FreeMore West (for its location near Freedom Drive and West Morehead Street), rallied around to help her, raising money and providing help so she could keep the restaurant going.

Reached at her home in Monks Corner, near Charleston, Pearson said she sold the restaurant in March 2017 so she could return to South Carolina, where she has family. She says she gave Astephen her recipes, including a banana pudding that The Observer has listed as one of the best dishes in the city.

Pearson says she doesn’t know what happened but had heard all of her original staff members had left.

“People still contact me now, thinking I’m involved. We put our hearts and souls into it. I was proud to be a part of Charlotte,” she said.

The FreeMore section of West Morehead Street was once dominated by factories and was known mainly for the now-gone Coffee Cup and for the Open Kitchen, still a favorite. After the opening of the nearby Bank of America Stadium, neighborhoods around it started to pick up, with new construction and new food businesses, including Savor, Rhino Cafe and the Burger Co.

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With walls decorated with local art, Savor quickly found a following for both lunch and dinner, particularly for the ever-changing vegetable casserole and the banana pudding.

There is one last hope for that banana pudding, though: Lori Pearson says she’d be happy to share the recipe if another Charlotte restaurant would like to return it to a menu.

Kathleen Purvis; 704-358-5236.