LINCOLNTON. Restaurants come and restaurants go. Not so the small Lincolnton restaurant across from the Lincoln County Courthouse. City Lunch has been owned and operated by the same family since 1957. The owners and their employees are celebrating their 65th birthdayth year of business and inviting the community to a neighborhood party in front of the restaurant in Court Square on Saturday.
City Lunch is one of those places you can go and expect to get a good meal for a reasonable price and, perhaps more importantly, friendly service. As far as Angie Greer, who took over the restaurant from her mother, Lynette Greer, knows, City Lunch has been in Lincolnton since at least 1932. Her grandparents, Ernest and Pauline Dellinger, bought the restaurant in 1957.
History has been made in and around this small restaurant. There are people who have probably had lunch there for most of their life, met their significant others there, or made friends all their lives.
“Our good customers have kept us going,” Greer said. “That’s who we have to thank, our loyal customers. They love our hot dogs. We have an average of around 700 per day. On Thursdays we still do the old-fashioned fried chicken in a cast iron skillet. We keep it simple and old fashioned. “
When the Dellingers took over the restaurant, there were only a counter and tables for four people on the wall, according to Greer. The Lincoln Barber Shop was located in the other half of the building. When the barber shop closed in the 1970s, City Lunch expanded into their space.
“Our small town saw more changes in the 1980s,” he said. “All the department stores have started relocating. What was once a bustling city center was dying. We have lost the socialization that used to happen when you came to shop. When you’d be on Main Street and could see an old friend and stop and meet us.
Lincolnton started growing again in the 2000s and people started returning to Main Street. Then tragedy struck in 2019 when Greer’s brother Brian lost his battle with cancer. This dealt a blow to everyone involved in the restaurant. The Downtown Development Association purchased and installed a bench in 2019 to honor Brian Greer.
Then came a global pandemic, which didn’t stop this little restaurant that it could. They opened the main window and sold their food to take away.
“COVID was horrible, to be honest,” Greer said. “We were lucky to have the two front windows that lifted up. We’ve been slow because a lot of people didn’t want to come out and I understand that, but the biggest problem was after COVID with supply chain problems. It was a struggle. We have to relearn everything we’ve done before. “
City Lunch had to raise some of their prices due to inflation.
“Breakfast had to go up because the price of eggs is outrageous,” he said. “We raised the prices of burgers and hot dogs right after COVID. We’re still going strong, thank God for that. “
Other things could change in the county: trendy developments and restaurants on the eastern side, agriculture retains its hold on the western side, and there will soon be a new courthouse. County commissioners, mayors, and other elected officials come and go. What remains the same is the City Lunch with its hotdogs, burgers – all the way down if you want it, meat in threes or fried chicken Thursdays, all served with a smile. Lynette still comes to the restaurant most days, not to work, but to stay in that special place that she has helped promote for the past 65 years. In this day and age of on-the-fly meals, collected at the window and eaten in the car, City Lunch is an oasis of what it once was. Maybe it’s one of the few places left in the county where everyone knows your name.
The circle around Court Square will be closed so that the community can enjoy a good old-fashioned neighborhood party in front of the City Lunch Saturday 4th June from 10am to 4pm There will be musicians, a DJ, a dunking booth, a basketball and other games for children.
“I invited the other merchants in the center to come and set up a booth to advertise their businesses,” said Greer. “We will sell hotdogs for $ 0.65 to honor our 65sth year. We ordered 2,000 “.