Art’s BBQ & Deli is located in Dilworth and sits at the intersection of N. McDowell and Morehead Streets. If you’re not paying attention, you may not even notice it’s there. Like its owner, Danny Katopodis, the restaurant is understated. His staff serves breakfast and lunch in a diner-like atmosphere.
Katopodis’ father, Art Katopodis, moved to the U.S. from Greece in 1952, then to Charlotte in the 1960s. Art, now 87 years old, opened Art’s BBQ & Deli in 1976. When he retired in 2002, his son, Danny took over the restaurant.
The restaurant attracts regular customers like Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers, and several of the team’s players.
“We have a really good clientele,” said Danny Katopodis. “After 41 years, everyone’s been here at one time or another.”
According to Danny Katopodis, his father was asked along the way, “What does a Greek know about BBQ?” Art Katopodis had some help. More than 40 years ago, he was given a recipe for BBQ from the former owner of the Cloverleaf Restaurant on South Tryon Street. That person said, “Art, keep this recipe. It’s going to make you a lot of money one day.”
Art Katopodis used that recipe to build his restaurant. This year, the sweet, vinegar and tomato based sauce was bottled. Art’s BBQ Sauce may be purchased for $4.95 in the restaurant, at Harris Teeter or online with Amazon (additional cost for shipping).
Art’s BBQ & Deli’s menu features made-to-order breakfast items like homemade biscuits, breakfast sandwiches and omelets, and lunch options like Art’s Famous Bar-B-Q Sandwiches, fried chicken and a patty melt. Nothing on the menu is over $7.
Danny Katopodis answered CharlotteFive’s questions for the small business series:
What ideals or values have been important to keep in the business?
“It’s a family business. My staff are very friendly. We always say hello; we always say good-bye. We try to get to know everybody on a personal level. That keeps people coming back.”
When have you had to overcome a challenge or barrier?
“[In] 2014 to 2016, they [city of Charlotte] closed the entire street for a sewer drain project. There was only one way in and out of this property, and at certain times, there was no way in and out of here.
“Unless you knew we were here, you couldn’t see us. It was a horrible challenge that we had to overcome. We still had regulars that would keep us going, but it was a big drop in business. It was tough financially and emotionally.”
How have you had to adapt the restaurant to meet the needs of customers?
“People are eating healthier now. We sell a lot of salads here. Grilled chicken is great on a salad. We put BBQ on a salad – we put BBQ on anything.”
What advice would you give to someone who may take over their family business?
“Keep everything the same for a while; don’t make any changes. If it’s working, you don’t want to change anything.
“Be prepared to work hard and put in a lot of time because that’s what the person before you did.”
How do you spend your time away from Art’s BBQ and Deli?
“I spend a lot of time with my family. We’re Greek so we spend a lot of time together.”
Art’s BBQ & Deli, 900 E. Morehead St.
Hours: 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Monday–Friday; 7 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday; Closed Sunday
Photos: Danny Katopodis, Vanessa Infanzon
Family history and my own fascination with people and their motivations prompted me to begin this series about Charlotte’s small business owners. Industry, situation and questions will vary. Have a suggestion for a small business owner or entrepreneur to interview? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Small Business Series.”