What's In Store

Beloved soda shop to close its doors after nearly 25 years in South End

The black cow and brownie sundae at Pike’s Soda Shop in July 2014.
The black cow and brownie sundae at Pike’s Soda Shop in July 2014. ibartolucci@charlotteobserver.com

Pike’s Soda Shop is closing its doors after nearly 25 years in South End.

Pike’s is an old-fashioned diner known for its burgers, sandwiches, banana splits and milkshakes. Local couple Jesse and Elizabeth Pike opened Pike’s as a pharmacy in 1982. In 1994, they converted the space into a soda shop arranged like an early 1920s drugstore.

Randy Chitwood took over the business in June 2002. Chitwood told the Observer on Monday that he plans to reopen the beloved restaurant sometime this fall in a location he’ll announce at a later date.

“We have reached an agreement with our landlord that is mutually beneficial for termination of the lease,” Chitwood said of the South End spot, declining to share the terms of the agreement. He said he has not yet determined when the restaurant’s last day will be.

Sam Judd, managing partner of property owner Asana Partners, would not say what is taking the place of Pike’s, which occupies over 4,600 square feet of space in the Design Center at Camden Road and Tremont Avenue.

“The way the neighborhood is changing is very cool. (But) it’s more pedestrian now. For a lot of our clientele, a lot of business people at lunch as well as families at night ... it’s hard to park around here. We’ve been on the lookout for a spot that would be more accessible to our guests,” Chitwood said. “South End is really hot right now.”

Chitwood said the restaurant has a storied history in South End. A scene from the 2001 Gwyneth Paltrow/Jack Black comedy “Shallow Hall” was filmed at Pike’s, for instance. When the show Homeland was filmed in Charlotte a decade later, many members of the cast lived at the Ashton apartment complex across the street and would come by for a meal between filming.

“You’d look out and see Claire Danes on the patio eating a salad,” Chitwood recalled.

Anna Douglas, a reporter at The Charlotte Observer, takes one of our readers on a journey to the site of the old Rudisil Mine in Charlotte's SouthEnd.

Changes in South End

Asana bought the Design Center property for $42.7 million from Florida-based Ram Realty Services in 2016, property records show. The Observer reported at the time that Asana wanted to turn the site into a “South End shopping destination.”

Over the last several months, Asana has brought a number of high-profile retail tenants to the area, including Hawkers Asian Street Fare, Jeni’s Ice Creams, Barcelona Wine Bar and Superica.

Pike’s is the latest longtime restaurant to close its doors in South End on Asana-owned property.

Asana, which has been growing its portfolio of properties in South End, purchased the 0.77-acre site that housed the longtime Phat Burrito Tex-Mex restaurant and a few other buildings for $2.7 million in 2017. Phat Burrito closed its doors in February 2017, and its spot is being redeveloped. A vegetarian restaurant called Flower Child will soon take its place.

A number of other longtime South End businesses have shuttered their doors or relocated in recent years.

The property that housed the Common Market on Camden Road was sold to become the seven-story Dimensional Fund Advisors headquarters on the East Coast in 2016. The market closed that summer, and reopened in a new building nearby in 2018. Several blocks away, The Tremont Music Hall closed in December 2015 after two decades. Greek Isles closed in summer 2015, and Hot Taco took its place.

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As the retail and sports business reporter for the Observer, Katie Peralta covers everything from grocery-store competition in Charlotte to tax breaks for pro sports teams. She is a Chicago native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame.

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