Charlotte’s Black-Owned Restaurants Still Struggling With Pandemic-Related Problems

Sharon and Cliff Freshwater said getting customers to return since the Covid-19 pandemic has been a struggle. (Photo: Jalon Hill for QCity Metro)

“Bear with me. I’ll be with you in a minute,” Sharon Freshwater, co-owner of Freshwaters Restaurant, said as new customers walked through the door.

As a pandemic-related labor shortage drags on, Freshwater and her husband, Cliff Freshwater, are working as a two-person staff to keep their business afloat. While Sharon serves customers in the dining room, her husband cooks food in the kitchen.

At Lulu’s Maryland Style Chicken and Seafood, known for its signature crab cakes, co-owner Joseph “Jay” Davis is wrestling with another pandemic-related problem — sporadic shortages of meat.

“We don’t have a lot of what our most recognizable dishes are because we don’t know when crab meat is going to come in and when we are going to have it,” he said.

As the spread of Covid-19 enters a troubling new phase with the rise of the more contagious Delta variant, some of Charlotte’s most prominent Black-owned restaurants are still reeling from the first wave of the pandemic.

In addition to struggling with food and labor shortages, some owners, like Sharon and Cliff Freshwater, said customers have been slow to return.

“It’s been a struggle,” Sharon Freshwater told QCity Metro during a recent interview. “We’re still working on getting people back out to the restaurant. We’re running specials, but it doesn’t seem to be working.”

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SOURCE: Q City Metro, Jalon Hill

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