Charlotte small businesses find new life on Monroe Road

Tricia Tam says the area is welcoming businesses that have been forced out of other parts of town for two big reasons.

CHARLOTTE, NC — Rising rents and properties changing hands are forcing local businesses out of the buildings. The beloved restaurant Soul Gastrolounge, in Plaza Midwood, will close over the weekend.

It’s becoming a trend for many small businesses in the area. Soul Gastrolounge announced last month they’re closing up shop. The owners were told their building was going up for sale, and their rent would increase by 114%.

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But now some businesses are finding a new home in a different part of town.

At Bohemian Stylehouse hair salon, they pride themselves in being inclusive and eco-friendly.

“Everyone’s welcome here,” co-owner and stylist at Bohemian Stylehouse Candace Stamper said. “Small business are so important to communities because so many families depend on that income.”

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Back in 2020, that income was on the line after a large real estate investor purchased the hair salon’s building in Plaza Midwood, and was looking to raise their rent by at least 100%.

“I was thinking we didn’t know how we were going to keep our doors open,” Stamper said. “Because it’s not realistic to double your lease.”

They were pushed out of Plaza Midwood, but seamlessly moved into their new location on Monroe Road.

“We’ve really seen a revival of Monroe Road,” Tricia Tam, communications and strategy advisor for Monroe Road Advocates, said.

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Empty real estate is now full of new business. Tam says the area is welcoming businesses that have been forced out of other parts of town for two big reasons.

“Affordability was one of the driving factors, also that there’s this eclectic diverse group of people who live along here,” Tam said.

Several businesses from Plaza Midwood and NoDa have relocated to the Monroe Road corridor, like NoDa Yoga, Stash Pad, and MoveStudio.

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Just like Soul Gastrolounge, rent increases made it impossible to stay put.

“The heart of Plaza Midwood was small business,” Stamper said. “To us, it’s lost its heart, truly and honestly.”

Now there’s hope that Monroe Road will be a place everyone is welcome.

“Its kind of nice that everyone’s kind of shifting and moving this way because it just re-creates that small business community,” Stamper said.

Soul Gastrolounge closes Sunday, The goal is to relocate and reopen, but those plans have not yet been finalized. Sister, an all-day European bistro just downstairs, also just closed their doors after being open for just six months.

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WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions producing I Can’t Afford to Live Here, a collaborative reporting project focused on solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.

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