Mohamed and Holly Mahfoze
When I arrive at Dean’s Shoe Repair on Selwyn Avenue, Moe Mahfoze is repairing a customer’s favorite Louis Vuitton bag. Naturally, I am intrigued and want to know more. Does Moe know the difference between the real bags and the more common fake versions?
“You see this? This is real. You can tell by the stitches and by the material. In a real bag, you will never find the letters in the stitches,” he says. “And of course, you can tell from the lining. And if [the hardware is] too shiny, it’s fake. The studs have no name on the fake ones. … This is the real.”
Moe, who is from Egypt by way of Hoboken, N.J., and his wife, Holly, “a Southern belle” from Atlanta, opened the shop in 2009. It’s named for Holly’s late father. Dean’s specializes in everything from traditional shoe cleaning and bag repair to equestrian equipment and leather reconditioning.
“I love Charlotte because it made us happy as business owners,” says Moe, who has a philosophy degree from Alexandria University. “You can start a new life here and be happy. This is the American dream.”
Comments have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Holly: We have made such good friends with several of the customers that we are now like family. There’s one gentleman, Bill from Bank of America, who usually comes in every Saturday to get his shoes shined. It’s gotten to the point now that he will call or email us if he is not going to be in town for a weekend. … Maureen O’Boyle did a story on us years ago. She’s a sweetheart. … Angie Harmon is one of our customers, and her fiance, Greg. She’s adorable, gorgeous — her personality is so down-to-earth. … “We used to take care of Dion Lim’s shoes when she lived here. … Trip Harder, the traffic man on WCCB — one of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life.
Moe: The growth here has been great. [The city] needs to be growing. Nothing stays the same. I think the growth has helped the economy of our city. You see younger generations moving to Charlotte instead of moving away to the big city. Charlotte is a new “big” small city. I love it!
Holly: My favorite is Dilworth. I have family that have lived on East Park Avenue for 30+ years. It is very quaint. I’ve always loved driving through the neighborhood and seeing the older houses. The tree-lined streets — it is beautiful.
Moe: My favorite is Myers Park. The customers and the people are just so friendly. The homes are beautiful. We live in Matthews. The thing that we enjoy most is going home to quiet, privacy, and peace and quiet. We go home, sit on the back porch and just chill. In Hoboken, we lived above the shop, so this allows us to actually leave work and get away.
Holly: You can be somewhere else really quick. You can be at the mountains or the beach. We love Asheville. We have friends who live right down the hill from the Omni Grove Park Inn. Every time we drive on [U.S. Route] 321, we get a few miles down the road off Interstate 85 and just breathe deep and relax.
Holly: I love The Sleepy Poet. I’ve found a couple of other places within an hour’s drive: White Owl Antique Market in Mount Pleasant near Concord, and in Gastonia, there is Gaston Pickers, as well as a Sleepy Poet.
Holly: Our favorite place to eat in Charlotte is Kabab-Je Rotisserie Grill. It’s a Mediterranean and Lebanese restaurant. There’s one at Stonecrest, and there’s one on Highway 51. We’ve gotten to know the owner, Yasser Sadek, well. The food is delicious. One of my favorite dishes is called Moujaddarah. It’s a dish with lentils, rice and fried onions. I also like Wan Fu on Highway 51 and Nothing but Noodles in Stonecrest.
Moe: We love Brooklyn Pizza Parlor at Rea and Colony Roads. It’s the closest we’ve found to our pizza up north. I’ve never had anything bad at Ilios Noche.
— compiled by Whitley Adkins
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