Despite challenges, Lulu’s is fully open again

Lulu’s Express Fry House is back open with regular hours and an expanded menu.

Lulu’s Maryland-Style Chicken & Seafood, a Black-owned restaurant serving seafood-centered comfort food in the West End, opened in Charlotte in 2019 and became popular as a pick-up option during the pandemic.

After many changes over the last year, including a name change and closure, fans of the restaurant can start placing their favorite orders again.

A timeline of pivots

Lulu’s initially experienced success at its original location on Tuckaseegee Road, and in March 2022, owners Jay and Makeita Davis decided to open a second location on Central Avenue in Plaza Midwood.

Original rendering of LuLu’s Maryland-Style Chicken and Seafood restaurant on Central Avenue.

In September 2022, the original Lulu’s location closed in order for the owners to focus more on the Plaza Midwood location, a larger space with indoor-outdoor dining.

Later, the owners announced the Tuckaseegee space would become Lulu’s Express Fry House,  a fast-casual version of the original restaurant with a limited menu and fewer operating hours.

In January 2023, the Plaza Midwood restaurant closed after months of staffing issues and rising food costs. At that time, the owners announced a full reopening of Lulu’s Express Fry House on Tuckaseegee, with an expanded menu and regular hours.

But the construction of a roundabout steps from the restaurant, along with continued staff shortages and seafood availability issues, kept Lulu’s from fully reopening, according to a press release sent Friday.

Axios reported that sole owner Jay Davis, who is now separated from his wife, is focused on restoring the brand’s glory. In previous years, it wasn’t uncommon for the restaurant to have long lines and daily sellouts.

Davis told Axios that the cosmetic needs of the Tuckaseegee location — currently, a broken door and other visible wear-and-tear from break-ins and an aging space — aren’t his main focus at the moment.

Finally reopening

The restaurant has been open off-and-on for the last few months but has experienced challenges with consistent hours.

Now, it’s operating fully again. The restaurant is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. It’s closed on Tuesday.

The Lulu’s Express Fry House menu includes original favorites like the jumbo lump crab cakes and crab fries, among others.

“In a time where many restaurants have closed their doors for good, I am thankful that I was able to keep our original location,” owner Jay Davis said in a statement. “Then, to be able to re-introduce LuLu’s back to the community at the right time – it’s amazing to get a second chance.”

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