Leah & Louise Bringing A Different Experience to Charlotte Dining

by Sam Perley

Husband-and-wife duo Greg and Subrina Collier were all set for the grand opening of their new restaurant, Leah & Louise, roughly five months ago. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, the world hit pause and like everybody else in the hospitality industry, the couple was forced to quickly adapt to a rapid change in scenery.

“Our first day of service was March 20, which was the same day that everything kind of shut down for COVID-19,” said Greg. “It was interesting, but now we’ve kind of reopened after everything calmed down a little bit and we’re in a real good place. We’re at like 80 percent of what our projections were, even though we’re only at 50 percent dining. It was about figuring out what was going to work, and how do we take care of our employees and guests.”

Located at 301 Camp Road in Charlotte, the name Leah & Louise honors Greg’s late sister and grandmother, respectively. The Colliers have taken a unique approach to their eatery, which features “Mississippi River Valley food” and “Memphis-to-New-Orleans-style cooking.”

“The point is for us to show Southern food can look different,” Greg explained. “A lot of people when they get Southern food, especially at a Black-owned restaurant, they’re conscious of food being a certain way. We felt like if we showed Southern food a different way, we could uplift this community and uplift that thought process of what Southern food is at the same time.”

He added, “You can get fried chicken and mac and cheese at a lot of phenomenal restaurants, but you’re not going to get either one of those things here. It’s not because we’re trying to be anti-that. We feel like the breath of what the African-American experience should be shouldn’t be so monolithic. It should be a lot of different things, different colors, flavors, textures.”

The couple, which also owns breakfast joint The Uptown Yolk in 7th Street Market, has loaded the Leah & Louise menu with intricate, unique food options utilizing poultry, fish, seafood, vegetables and desserts.

“When people feel comfortable dining in, we’d love for them to come in and get the total experience,” said Greg. “You can come get great food or get curbside or carryout. I would imagine us doing that for the long term. People need to come in and find out what the experience is like. We’re going to do our best to give you whatever experience you want.”

Running multiple restaurants over the last several months surely hasn’t been the easiest of tasks for the Colliers. In the end though, what matters most is the experience and it’s something that Leah & Louise strives to provide the highest quality of on a daily basis.

“There’s nothing more important than honing your craft,” Greg said. “The money and accolades will come, the success will come, growth, social media followers will come, but you have to care about your craft. If you don’t care about your craft, you’ll always be chasing these things that aren’t timeless.”

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