LINCOLNTON – Restaurants are coming and restaurants are leaving. Not so the small restaurant in Lincoln opposite the Lincoln County Courthouse. City Lunch has been owned and run by the same family since 1957. The owners and their employees are celebrating their 65th birthdayyou year in business and invites the community to a block party in front of the restaurant on Court Square on Saturday.
City Lunch is one of those places you can go and expect to get good food at 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 Delinger, bought the restaurant in 1957.
The story is made in and around this small restaurant. There are people who have probably had lunch there for most of their lives, met significant others there, or made lifelong friends.
“Our good clients have supported us,” Greer said. “We must thank our loyal customers for this. They love our hot dogs. On average about 700 a day. We’re still making old-fashioned fried chicken in a cast iron skillet on Thursday. We keep it simple and old-fashioned. ”
When the Delingers took over the restaurant, there was only a counter and tables for four or two people on the wall, according to Greer. The Lincoln Barber Shop was in the other half of the building. When the barber shop closed in the 1970s, City Lunch expanded into their space.
“In the 1980s, our small town underwent more changes,” she said. “All the big department stores have started to be exported. What was once a bustling city center was dying. We lost the communication that happened when you came shopping. When you were on Main Street and you could see an old friend and stop and catch up.
Lincoln began to grow again in the 2000s, and people began to return to Main Street. Then came the tragedy of 2019, when Greer’s brother, Brian, lost his battle with cancer. This dealt a severe blow to everyone involved in the restaurant. The Center’s Development Association purchased and installed a bench in 2019 in honor of Brian Greer.
Then came a global pandemic – which didn’t stop this little restaurant it could. They opened the front window and sold their food.
“COVID was terrible, to be honest,” Greer said. “We were blessed to have the front two windows rising. We were slow because a lot of people didn’t want to go out and I understand that, but the biggest problem was after COVID with supply chain problems. It was a struggle. We need to re-learn everything we’ve done before. “
City Lunch had to raise some of its prices due to inflation.
“Breakfast had to be raised because the price of eggs was outrageous,” she said. “We raised the prices of our burgers and hot dogs right after COVID. We are still strong – thank God for that. “
Other things may change in the county – development and luxury restaurants on the east side, agriculture retains power on the west side and there will soon be a new courtroom. District commissioners, mayors and other elected officials come and go. What remains the same is City Lunch with their hot dogs, burgers – all the way, if you want, meat with three, or on Thursday, fried chicken, all served with a smile. Lynette even still comes to the restaurant most days, not to work, but to be in that special place she’s helped grow for the past 65 years. In this day and age of dishes on the go, taken from a window and eaten in the car, City Lunch is an oasis of what it once was. This may be one of the few remaining places in the county where everyone knows your name.
The circle around Court Square will be closed so the community can enjoy a good old-fashioned party before city lunch on Saturday, June 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be musicians, a DJ, a dive booth, basketball and other children’s games.
“I invited other retailers in the center to come down and set up a booth to advertise their business,” Greer said. “We will sell hot dogs for $ 65 to honor our 65you year. We have 2,000 ordered. “