Retro Charlotte

Dikadee’s Front Porch is really gone now

Though the restaurant is long gone the green-roofed building on East Independence will always be Dikadee’s Front Porch to me. Their menu reminded me of the old White Horse*offerings: stuffed baked potatoes, salads, sandwiches and quiches. But bulldozers are making a meal of the building -- which has been home to a number of businesses -- and it will probably be gone in a few days. I don’t know if another building will take its place or if the demolition is part of the road widening project. Either way, I invite you to take a look at the slideshow and enjoy this excerpt from an Observer review. After hearing co-workers rave about Dikadee’s Dannye Romine wanted to see for herself, especially that peanut butter pie.

*White Horse sign at Cline’s Antiques in March.

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Pie’s Best Buy Dikadee’s Front Porch

By Dannye Romine

February 17, 1984

I love pie, and I love cake. But there are not many pies -- and even fewer cakes -- that would lure me out of the bed ona winter’s night for another piece.

The peanut butter pie at Dikadee’s Front Porch could do just that. ...

... Nick Collias (co-owner with his wife, Maria) grew up in Dilworth with his mother, Antigone, and his father, Gus, both from Greece. He has fond memories of playing on the front porch with his brother, George, whose name in Greek Nick could not pronounce. Nick called his brother Dikadee and named the restaurant after him.

When Nick and Maria bought the restaurant three years ago it was the Sandwich Construction Co.; before that, Lum’s.

Extensive renovations transformed the place into a graceful green and shrimp-colored veranda, with latticework, porch railing, bamboo shades and black and white photos of old Charlotte house, most of them with commodious porches.

(Dannye and her companions had the trout piccata, tournedos marchand de vin, shrimp dijon, steak au poivre, and baked potatoes. Then attention turned to dessert.)

Now for the dessert.

We’d already heard about the peanut butter pie, so we all wanted a taste. One peanut butter pie, please ($2.25) and one Mississippi mud pie ($2.50).

No question. The peanut butter pie won out, but the Mississippi mud was delicious.

The secret of the peanut butter pie, I suspect, is in its crust, which is a shortbread cookie crust. Next to the peanut butter (with some secret ingredients, not revealed to me), then chocolate custard, then whipped cream and crumbled peanut butter on top.

How can you miss?

The Mississippi mud is basic pie crust, with a filling that’s a cross between a brownie and a fudge filling, chopped walnuts, marshmallow creme and fudge icing.

Oh, my.

We each ordered espresso ($1.25), served with a tiny piece of lemon rind. An excellent cup.

Here’s what I found out later about the people behind Dikadee’s, and this may make more difference than the shortbread cookie crust or the old photos or the silk flowers on the tables.

A long time ago -- about 63 years -- a native of Sparta, Greece, came to Charlotte and opened the Piedmont Candy Kitchen on North Tryon, where Woolworth’s is now. He was the first to import crystalized fruit from France, filled almonds from Spain and candied cherries from Italy. This man earned the name “Candy Man” by giving away large batches of his sweets to the Salvation Army, orphans and needy kids who came to his store at Christmastime.

In 1936, he moved up to the corner of South Church and West Trade and opened the Piedmont Restaurant, which he operated until 1964, closing only one half day during all those years.

When an Observer reporter interviewed him that year, he said his business philosophy was simple:

“I put my customers, the Charlotte public, first. Everything else takes a back seat.”

That man was Gus Collias. His son, Nick seems to be continuing the tradition.

It’s unclear when exactly Dikadee’s Front Porch closed, but I found this 1998 headline: “Fire destroys Dikadee’s on Independence Blvd.” There was at least one other Dikadee’s restaurant in town, on East Blvd., that I think was owned by another Collias brother.