If you’ve never had a grinder with a side of fries at Arthur’s Restaurant on the lower level of Belk, can you even call yourself a Charlottean? I’m kidding (sort of). I’d never heard of a ‘grinder’ before eating at Arthur’s for the first time, many years ago. It was my husband’s go-to order — mine was the club sandwich.
According to a 2013 Bon Appetit article, ‘grinder’ might have been the original term for the submarine sandwich. Fast forward to today and, at press time, grinder sandwiches are the latest viral TikTok sensation.
Arthur’s version is made with just a few basic ingredients — turkey, ham or another protein on a sub roll topped with tomato slices, oregano and melted provolone. Like the rest of the cafe’s menu, there’s nothing fussy about it. But Arthur’s sandwiches, burgers, soups and salads are a reliable local alternative to standard food-court fare for guests wanting a quick bite while shopping.
Arthur’s has moved around in Charlotte a few times, and the menu’s expanded since the early days. The current location, often obscured behind displays of housewares and bedding when you step off the escalator in Belk, is so hidden newcomers might need to ask for directions to find the restaurant or Arthur’s Wine Shop, the other half of the business. The Balsley brothers who own Arthur’s have been stocking Charlotte’s wine cellars for 50 years. They chose not to have a big celebration to mark the anniversary, contributor Kathleen Purvis writes in this story.
Perhaps instead, the best way we can honor the milestone is to be sure to dine there, regularly. Charlotte has lost too many homegrown staples over the last few years. Let’s keep Arthur’s around for another 50.
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