Melissa O’Brien

Looking East you’ll notice that the there are no longer access cuts from Route 7. All traffic will enter and exit from Church Hill Road.

Peter Carreiro, owner of Rise ‘n Shine, a grocery delivery service based in Charlotte and serving eleven local communities, is poised to take ownership of the Spears family property on the corner of Route 7 and Church Hill Road. “We are currently under contract with plans to close in January,” says Carreiro. “Soon after we will begin the process of un-developing the space.”

By “un-develop” Carreiro means returning the property to its agricultural-use origins as a means to supply his business with product and the community with healthy local food. The asphalt will be removed to be replaced by grass where cows and chickens will graze, and the former gas station building will be gutted to become a barn to house the farm animals.

Carreiro has owned the property directly behind the Spears’ for many years, and so “we have a good working relationship with the family,” he says.

The old bingo hall next to the gas station will become a farmstand, where the meats and dairy goods raised and produced on the farm will be sold. It will also house the bottling plant where milk for Carreiro’s delivery service will be processed and bottled. And the long-shuttered and beloved Uncle Sam’s will be reopened as an ice cream stand,” Carreiro says, “offering the ice cream we make right here on the farm.”

“This is an idea I’ve had for a long time,” Carreiro explains, “and when the Maplefields plan fell through, it really kicked into high gear for me. We struggle to have the meats and eggs and milk we need to supply our customers. We’re driving long distances for our milk now and there are times when customers want not just local eggs but local organic eggs, and now we’ll be able to offer those kinds of products.”

If all goes as planned, de-construction will begin in January. “We want to have the ice cream stand up and running by next summer,” Carreiro says.

Helena Spears, whose family ran the Uncle Sam’s for 38 years, who saw generations of Charlotte kids work at the stand, grow up, raise kids and return, calls the transition ‘the end of an era.’ “It’s been a long, slow process,” she said, “and we have many happy memories of running businesses in that space, but time marches on.”

“Will you be the first in line when the new cremee stand opens next summer?” this reporter wanted to know of Mrs. Spears. “That depends on what flavors he has,” replied the grand dame of Charlotte’s summer ice cream scene.

Community members are welcome to engage Carrerio with questions and comments at the RisenShine website.