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March 5, 2021

What N.C. Red’s closure means for Charlotte

Our editor’s perspective on the big news

NC Red

Hot fried chicken from N.C. Red. Photo by Peter Taylor/Peter Taylor Photography

A lot of folks have been asking us about what the sale of N.C. Red means about the Charlotte restaurant scene overall. It’s a good question, with a lot of ways one can answer it.

For starters, the restaurant’s closure hints at the difficult nature of chef-driven dining spots in Plaza Midwood. While burger joints and fast casual spots — and pizza, of course — seem to thrive in the neighborhood, seafood doesn’t seem to turn heads.

The fried chicken was popular, but many told me they were deterred by the prices that ingredient-driven sides and higher quality proteins command. One of the larger hurdles for N.C. Red was that in many diners’ minds, fried chicken has a price point — one that remains the same whether you’re using free range, hormone-free birds or the opposite. Comida, the restaurant before N.C. Red, faced these issues, too.

The fact that a restaurant by Bruce Moffett is closing has spurred concern: if one of the city’s best restaurateurs is closing a restaurant because of the pandemic, what does it mean for others?

N.C. Red’s closure was brought on by several circumstances, and another is simply Moffett’s age. He likened the decision to sell the restaurant to an investment portfolio: as you get older, you’re less likely to take risks for long-term benefit. While Stagioni, Barrington’s, and Good Food remain steady, continuing to operate N.C. Red would be taking a chance.

So, what does the N.C. Red’s closure mean for Charlotte? Our biggest takeaway is this: in order for Charlotte’s restaurant scene to continue to grow, it’s time for us to be grateful for what chefs like Moffett have done for the city, and time for a new generation of chefs to begin taking those chances.

N.C. Red’s final day in operation was scheduled for Saturday, but the restaurant closed early due to a lack of staff.

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