Robert Bloch, Contributor
It is often said that the three most important success factors in retailing are location, location and location. This is even more true for restaurants. So, when the Red Onion’s prime location on Church Street became a dead location in the wake of COVID 19, owner Mickey West contemplated shutting down after almost 35 years in business. Then, one afternoon, on the drive down Route 7 to her Charlotte home, she noticed the for-rent sign on Mike Dunbar’s newly completed Charlotte Crossings development. After a few meetings with Mike, his positive energy (and reasonable rent) helped convince her to give it a try. Mickey admits that at the time, she thought of the move as a “crap shoot”.
Mickey re-opened the Red Onion at Charlotte Crossings with son MacKenzie West-Poss in January, 2021, as a breakfast/lunch spot with a menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts much like the revered Red Onion on Church Street. Their success formula is painfully simple – “serve really good food fast”.
About the opening, Mickey states bluntly, “I almost died that first few weeks” as volume quickly grew to over six times what she had projected. Mickey brought on two more employees and now has things going well with operations.
At the Red Onion, operations means that they make everything on site, fresh daily – including all breads, soups, salads and of course, the cookies and other baked goods. Mickey hasn’t had the time to determine what percentage of her business is from Charlotters, versus Route 7 traffic, but it just keeps growing. However, she has noticed that she sells a lot more desserts in Charlotte.
When asked about future expansion plans, Mickey says she has a few ideas, but for now is focused on continuing to keep her customers happy and her life somewhat in balance.