Bojangles first ever restaurant reopens, commemorates its Charlotte history

CHARLOTTE — Tuesday marked a special occasion for Bojangles and the Charlotte community.

The first Bojangles-branded restaurant reopened 46 years after its doors first opened on West Boulevard.

An original Bojangles employee, David Maisel, lived through the last half-century of Charlotte’s growth. For half that time, he did it at 300 West Boulevard.

He watched as Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) and Bank of America moved to Uptown, transforming the Queen City into the banking center it is today.

“All the tall buildings started going up. Everybody was competing on who could build the largest skyscrapers,” Maisel said.

Through good times and bad, Bojangles was there. When Hurricane Hugo hit, leaving 90 percent of the area without power, Bojangles on West was one of the only restaurants able to remain open.

Maisel explained how South End was always a vibrant community, filled with nightlife, even before the recent major developments.

“We saw everybody after they got finished having a good time. We were here working, waiting for them,” he remembered.

As he stood in front of the newly renovated location, he said he couldn’t help but stand in awe of the changed surroundings.

“You can’t imagine, looking at the incredible apartments across the street, and the new buildings right there, the changes are dramatic,” Maisel said.

When Maisel worked on West Boulevard, the streets were only two lanes wide. Linay Thomas-Sheltra, the daughter of Bojangles co-founder Richard Thomas, says this is nothing like what her father imagined.

“He would be so proud. This is not the vision I think that they were going for, they just thought it was going to be a one-town shot,” she said.

That one-town shot expanded into a southeastern staple, with locations from Texas up to Pennsylvania and down to Florida.

CEO Jose Armario said he doesn’t see a limit to where Bojangles can go.

“Way past California, into Asia. Way past the eastern coast into Europe one day. As far north as the Canadian Rockies, and as far south as Latin America,” Armario said.

The renovations mirror the transformation of South End and of the business itself. In 1977, the location didn’t have a drive-thru or a dining room. Now, an artificial intelligence called “Bo-Linda” takes your drive-thru order.

“By modernizing our brand and updating our facilities, we will better serve our community and our customers,” Armario said.

Other new additions include a window into the biscuit station, where guests can watch the 49-step process of Bojangles biscuit-making.

(WATCH: Restaurants North Italia, Flower Child to add locations in Charlotte)

Cassia Sari, wsoctv.com

Cassia is a content center producer for Channel 9.

Comments on this article