Monday, July 12, 2010

Retail Relics around North Park and Tryon Malls: Charlotte, NC

While exploring the uglier side of Charlotte, I could not pass up some of the more fascinating retail relics I noted along the way.  Here, I am covering three: an old Park-n-Shop, dated Captain D's and former Sizzler.  On the first, I really do not know that much about the Park-n-Shop, but I was quite impressed with the shell of the swanky, outlandish store in front of Tryon Mall/Asian Corner Mall.  While its original format has long since passed it by, its fascinating modernist design was worthy of a photograph.  At first I thought this was an old car dealership, but on closer inspection I realized it was an old grocery store, and I was able to confirm that.  Other than that, I really do not know very much about this store.

Remains of the old Park N Shop in front of Tryon Mall/Asian Corner Mall.  You can see the old Peeble's/Collins Company in the background.  This is not the best pic because I took it from the street while I was at a red light.

Once common, old-style Captain D's signs featuring an animated captain are a rarity these days.  This is why I was very happy to find one at the intersection of Eastway Drive and Tryon Street in front of North Park Mall.  I took no pictures of the restaurant, though, because it was completely renovated to look like all the other recent ones.  I have to wonder why they failed to replace the sign, though.  Possibly the offbeat, run down area may have something to do with why they didn't change it.

You have to admit this sign was more eye-catching and had more kid appeal than the oval today.  However, it is kind of corny.  This is looking south on Eastway Drive.

This was barely hanging on.  Part of the old Kroger Sav-On/Bi-Lo at North Park Mall is visible on the left.

Next to Captain D's, I also discovered the fairly well preserved remains of an old Sizzler.  The Sizzler chain was grouped with all the other family steakhouse chains that mostly tanked in the early 90's.  In typical low rent fashion, the once dark mansard roof now is painted a hideous turquoise color.  The style of entrance doors used always stood out to me.  Those truly fell out of favor after the the 1980's.

Steaks and hot bars were replaced with burritos and Dos Equis at this rather sleazy looking mexican restaurant located in an old Sizzler.

One thing that definitely surprised me about Charlotte was the amount of dead retail scattered around the city.  It is currently most pronounced along Independence Blvd (US 74), which was an area that I unfortunately did not get a chance to explore.  This will undoubtedly be a phase as the city eventually finds a way to tear down all of it.  Aside from Independence and Central Ave, all of this was found along Tryon Street (US 29), which was a thriving retail corridor in the 70's with the draw of Tryon and North Park Malls.  I would loved to have explored it further, but I did not have time.


  1. The Park 'N Shops are all the same- there is also an abandoned one on Wilkinson Blvd, going towards the airport.

    Independence was a regular (wide) street, but it was slowly converted bit by bit into a highway, with a median/divider and no cross streets or red lights. That helped kill off the retail there. N. Tryon is just rough.

    N. Tryon is on the drawing board to have an extension of the light rail line, which would require the redevelopment/demolition of a lot of those run-down retail structures.

    The retail moved up N. Tryon to University City in the 1990's, and that area is now ghetto-like. The trend continues!

  2. I'm not familiar with Captain D's ever serving Hamburgers. Where I live in Kentucky has an old Captain D's which never to my knowledge served Hamburgers.

  3. I am confused. Where did I say that Captain D's sold hamburgers?

  4. The Captain said they served hambugers (check the sign). I never ate one there, but I remember it being on the sign when I was a kid. Speaking of old signage, I don't know if it's still there, but as little as 2-3 years ago the Arby's in Athens, GA still had the old sign that was actually shaped like a cowboy hat instead of just having the hat logo. I also saw a Pizza Hut near Fernandina, FL with the old black text on a white background with the red roof Pizza Hut sign out front just a week or so ago.

  5. The old sign says Seafood and Hamburgers. The hamburgers disappeared during the mid or late 90s around the time the weathered/worn design was adopted. They tasted the same as a standard Shoney's burger with no Big Boy/Big Mac equivalent available.

  6. The sign says "Captain D's Seafood and Hamburgers". I remember some of those old signs. Also, I remember the one in Rome, GA having some kind of rotating light in a steeple like thing on the roof. As a kid, I'd look at it at night when we'd drive by it.

  7. You didn't say Captain D's sold hamburgers. But the sign says "Seafood & Hamburgers." That's what I was commenting on. I find it a strange sign.

  8. LOL...I just realized that I didn't see what was right before my eyes in that pic.

  9. I've been eating at Captain D's for at least 30 years and have never seen one that served burgers, even that far back. My Captain D's visits were in Savannah, GA, and WV and western VA, but not in Charlotte. I'm wondering if the burgers were a regional thing, a product-testing experiment in certain areas, or possibly the Shoney Corporation served burgers in company-owned units, but not in franchised stores. I'll try not to lose any sleep over this.

    Also...the rotating light on top of the early buildings was a lighthouse. That would make it easy to convert a failing location into a church of some sort. Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun.

  10. D's served burgers where I'm from it was a shoney burger but i never remember the sings saying it.

  11. This D's is near my house, and I remember fondly eating burgers there as a child, in the early 80's. I think it was a regional thing, as all the D's in our area served burgers back then.