Charlotte’s beloved Phat Burrito is coming back. The Southwestern restaurant was opened by Santa Fe transplants Stephen and Jennifer Justice in 1998, serving burritos out of its iconic yellow and blue South End building before closing in 2017.
While commonplace across the country these days, fast food with Southwestern and Mexican influences was new to Charlotte in the late 1990s.
Ptah Investments owner Michael Cox — which includes Phat Burrito in its holdings — posted “Phat is back @loso Village!,” on his Instagram stories after the news was first reported by Axios Charlotte. LoSo Village is near Clanton Road and South Boulevard.
Another Instagram story of Cox’s read: “So excited for this to open in the spring!”
A lot has changed since Phat Burrito’s first grand opening in 1998 — dishes cost about $1.50 to $4.50, Charlotte’s population was under 700,000 and South End was nearly a decade away from having a light rail run through it. Still, the nostalgia factor will stay the same for Phat Burrito’s second grand opening in 2022.
Cox — whose favorite menu item was the BBQ chicken quesadilla — told CharlotteFive that he plans to keep the menu as close to the original as possible. He wants customers to walk in and feel like they’re in the old Phat Burrito, not a new restaurant with the same name.
“The reason I originally set out to do this is that I didn’t want to lose a Charlotte staple,” he said.
The salsas you remember will return, as well — although COVID-19 changes may put the old salsa bar into a different format. “We’ll figure all that out as we take the next steps,” Cox said.
Just as Phat Burrito helped change the face of South End, it will now help shape the LoSo Village development. With beer aplenty (forthcoming breweries Gilde Brewery and Weathered Souls are both within a block), the restaurant will be a welcome neighbor.
Cox hopes there’s room for among the newcomers for the familiar spot. “As Charlotte continues to grow and continues to be a powerhouse nationally, keeping these local restaurants is crucial,” he said. “We’ve lost so many great ones.”
Location: LoSo Village, Clanton Rd., Charlotte, NC, 28217 (Coming spring 2022)
Neighborhood: Lower South End
Editor’s note: This article is developing and will be updated.
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