Pandemic shutters popular Elizabeth restaurant that has served Charlotte for 30 years

Pandemic shutters popular Elizabeth restaurant that has served Charlotte for 30 years

CHARLOTTE — Carpe Diem Restaurant and Caterers, a popular family-owned restaurant in Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood, is closing after nearly 31 years in business.

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Bonnie Warford and her sister, Tricia Maddrey, founded Carpe Diem in 1989. Since then, the restaurant has been consistently named one of Charlotte’s best. The menu featured a unique take on New American cuisine, including their staple buttermilk fried chicken.

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“At Carpe Diem, we have had an incredible 30 years and have always shown tenacity,” Warford said.

But between the COVID-19 pandemic and their upcoming expiring lease, the owners had to change their focus.

“We have put quite a bit of thought into this decision, and it is a loss for all of us. We lost a lot of money [by] shutting down, and we feel that reopening would be a big financial investment that [we] would likely lose,” Warford said. “If COVID had not happened, we would have renewed our lease.”

Nearby residents are also feeling the loss.

“It’s sad, you know, whenever you see a place that’s been here as long as Carpe Diem has been [close down]. It raises eyebrows,” Elizabeth resident Marlin Mejia said.

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Fortunately, customers will still be able to buy some of their favorite Carpe Diem items. The sisters plan to adapt their other concept, Earl’s Grocery -- which sits next door -- to survive the changing times.

Earl’s menu will shift to takeout only and will include some staples from Carpe Diem, including the buttermilk fried chicken. The Elizabeth grocer currently offers dinner takeout, and Warford said they plan to offer lunch, eventually.

Warford said online grocery orders and curbside pickup will also be part of Earl’s new strategy. She expects to fully launch the new services in the next two weeks.

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