Uptown’s comeback: Street-side dining, outdoor movies, and free parking

Uptown’s comeback: Street-side dining, outdoor movies, and free parking

Uptown’s comeback: Street-side dining, outdoor movies, and free parking
Emma Way

By Emma Way | October 22, 2020 – Charlotte Agenda.
Views: 1,987

For over seven months, Uptown has been a ghost town. Now Charlotte’s center city is making a comeback with offerings like outdoor dining, movie screenings, and free (and cheap) parking.

Without a consistent workforce presence, Uptown has struggled during the pandemic.

Foot traffic is almost non-existent inside Overstreet Mall, a network of walkways and retailers connecting many of Charlotte’s skyscrapers. It’s quiet in the EpiCentere, a once-booming nightlife block. Few businesses remain open, some closing temporarily and some for good, because of the area’s recent decline, exacerbated by the pandemic.

[Related Agenda story: Can the EpiCentre survive the pandemic?]

Among the businesses we’ve lost in Uptown this year: Fitzgerald’s, JJ’s Red Hots, Malabar, Queen City Q, Rooftop 210, The Wooden Vine, Blackfinn, Suite, Moe’s, Vida Cantina, and most recently La Belle Helene.

If that was as depressing to read as it was for me to write, good news, I’m about to do a 180 and hit you with the good stuff.

Good stuff: As part of a Charlotte Center City Partners initiative, weekends in Uptown for the rest of 2020 will be filled with live (and free) entertainment, food trucks, streetside dining, free parking, outdoor fitness classes, pop-up markets, and more. Think of Uptown as our own socially distant festival grounds every Friday through Sunday for the next two-plus months.

Why: The goal of these weekend events is to encourage Charlotteans to go back Uptown — and in turn spend time and dollars getting those small businesses back on track after a tumultuous 2020. And to have fun.

black lives matter mural

Here’s what to expect if you head Uptown this weekend:

Free parking: From Friday at 5 p.m. through Sunday at 9 p.m., parking at three lots is either free or $1, depending where you park.

  • Free at 7th Street Station lot. Take a ticket, but you don’t need to get it validated.
  • $1 at the Truist and Fifth Third Center parking lots.

Dining: The city’s Street Eats program is now in a few neighborhoods around Charlotte, including Plaza Midwood and Uptown. In Uptown, parts of Tryon Street are closed to allow for more outdoor dining options and food trucks. Options include:

  • The Asbury
  • 204 North
  • Sea Level
  • SIP
  • Jive Turkey food truck – Friday, October 23
  • Cousins Maine Lobster food truck – Saturday, October 24 from 12-3 p.m.
  • Desi Kati Cart food truck – Saturday, October 24 from 12-3 p.m. and 6-9 p.m., and Sunday, October 25 from 1-4 p.m.
  • Rollicious Ribs food truck – Saturday, October 24 from 12-3 p.m.
  • Goldfinger – Saturday, October 24 from 6-9 p.m.

204 north

204 North is one of the restaurants participating in Uptown’s Street Eats program. (Photo courtesy 204 North)

Entertainment: While you eat outside, expect live music. And every Friday, there are free outdoor movie showings (reserve your ticket ahead of time). Here’s the current schedule.


  • Sidewalk Market – Every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., shop local vendors in an outdoor pop-up market next to 7th Street Public Market facing the Light Rail.
  • Uptown Farmers Market – The South Davidson Street market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. until December 12. Expect products like fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, and baked goods.
  • Overstreet Mall – Hidden inside Uptown’s business towers, the small shops of Overstreet Mall need customers. Check out Beehive Gifts and CC’s for gifts, women’s accessories, Christmas decor, and jewelry.

[Related Agenda story: 200 days into the pandemic, Overstreet Mall is still a ‘ghost town’]beehive overstreet mall

Lynn Broadway and Teresa Farson of The Beehive Gifts.

Fitness: This Saturday, October 24, is a free, all-day fitness event called Uptown Sweat. There will be different socially distant and outdoors classes throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Classes include dance fitness, yoga, and HIIT. Free tickets here.

More activities: Here are a few more suggestions for things to do in Uptown, but for even more, read our full Uptown neighborhood guide here. And as always, don’t forget to wear your mask and practice social distancing.

mint museum

Foragers by Brooklyn-based artist Summer Wheat, shown above.

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