Soon-to-close Cosmos was the cool spot before Charlotte had many cool spots

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08/24/99 LIne outside Cosmos Cafe on a Saturday night. Andy Kastanas, kingpin of the downtown bar scene in Mythos. Kastanas, a sometime DJ, has built a network of clubs and bars that have been packing in the crowds for years. He owns Mythos, Cosmos, and Salamandra along with a few partners. Kastanas has been a vital part behind the scenes for reviving downtown, organizing festivals, street parties, and giving people a reason to come downtown after dark.

Cosmos was more than a restaurant. When it opened in the late ‘90s, it established Sixth and College as an entertainment destination.

Now, after more than 18 years in uptown, it will close its doors Jan. 13.

Back then, Charlotte’s nightclub scene wasn’t centralized. There were pockets of clubs along Independence Avenue, Wilkinson Boulevard and a few spots on Park Road.

There was no EpiCentre or NC Music Factory. Uptown still deserted after 6 p.m. But brothers Gus and George Georgoulias and their friends Andy Kastanas, Tom Tsilimos and George Stergiou opened Mythos at Sixth and College in 1993.

Mythos welcome everybody, black and white, straight and gay, and crossdressers too. The music pumping and vibe was cool.

08/24/99 Khio Senensom (left) dances with a glow stick with her friend Lil Lee late night as DJ Andy K spins his house music at Mythos dance club. Andy Kastanas, kingpin of the downtown bar scene in Mythos. Kastanas, a sometime DJ, has built a networkof clubs and bars that have been packing in the crowds for years. He owns Mythos, Cosmos, and Salamandra along with a few partners. Kastanas has been a vital part behind the scenes for reviving downtown, organizing festivals, street parties, and givingpeople a reason to come downtown after dark.
Mythos in 1999.

But Mythos’ impact was mostly limited to the weekends. There still wasn’t much happening on weekday nights.

Then came Cosmos with its small plates (in a town accustomed to heaping plates of food) and craft cocktails. (Yes, Stefan Huebner was making craft cocktails there before mixology was part of the entertainment lexicon). Suddenly, young people had a reason to hang out uptown. Cosmos was the cool spot.

The success of Cosmos which had a lounge vibe in the evenings and featured a late-night menu, showed other aspiring restaurant and club owners that uptown could be an entertainment district. After Cosmos, more clubs quickly followed. There was Bar Charlotte and the Hut. Suddenly, Sixth and College was the epicenter of Charlotte nightlife.

Actually, that block was Charlotte’s uptown nightlife until the Irish crew took over Fifth and Tryon years later with Connolly’s and now closed Madison’s.

Cosmos gave us more than an entertainment destination. It also gave us a few people who would be pivotal in expanding Charlotte’s entertainment options. It was one of the first uptown establishments to feature themed nights such as Latin night, and let outside promoters host parties there.

Thanks to Cosmos we got Huebner who now mixes drinks at Heist and throughout the country. Brothers Branko and Djordje Avramovic’s, owners of Intermezzo Pizzeria and Cafe at Central and Louise avenues, were former busboys and barbacks at Cosmos.

I’ll be sad to see Cosmos and basically most of the block change ownership. The Yeorgoulias brothers, Kastanas, Tsilimos and Stergiou were visionaries and risk takers. Opening Cosmos when they did and where they did was a bold move. Their vision transformed uptown from a place to work to a place to play and now live.

So if you’re free on Saturday, head over to Sixth and College to say goodbye to the block that started it all and salute the men who had the guts to make it happen.

Cosmos, Phoenix and Republic will all host closing parties Jan. 9. Cosmos closes on Jan. 13.

In other headlines …

Do you have a New Year’s resolution for Charlotte? 

The Urban Land Institute Charlotte wants to hear it. From now until Jan. 8, you can tweet your ideas for improving the city with the hashtag #CLTResolve. Prizes will be awarded daily for the best tweet, and an overall winner will be picked Jan. 12. The grand prize winner will get coffee with Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble, who is ULI Charlotte’s district chair.

The restoration of Charlotte’s federal courthouse is being led by a Charlotte judge and a Dutch artist.

“It is not Versailles. But we want the public to be in awe of this building. They need to be in awe because they are the jurors, the arbiters of our criminal justice system. They need to understand how important this building is, and how important their jobs are.”

Help Michael Jordan’s daughter find her dog. 

Jasmine Jordan’s dog, Mila, went missing in Charlotte and she’s offering $1,000 to anyone who finds it. She was last seen near Hickory Grove Baptist Church.

Photos: Charlotte Observer file

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