South End Staple Celebrates 50 Years

July 27, 2017 8:16 pm

On August 13, 1967, a ten-foot round building on South Boulevard that previously held an ice cream shop called Zesto opened under the new name of Mr. K’s. Along with new ownership, the new shop brought something new and exciting to the location: Instead of just soft serve, they’d also have hot dogs, chips and soda.

Fifty years later, Mr. K’s has stood the test of time, brining in loyal customers and only slightly expanding its menu. “We’re still operating the way we did back from day one. We’re a mom and pop shop,” says George Dizes, who owns Mr. K’s with his wife Pamela.

After Theodore Karres, the original Mr. K, retired in 1997, the shop was taken over by George and Pamela Karres, his children. George Dizes, Pamela’s husband, joined the business soon after and years later George Karres moved on to a career in real estate. Throughout the years, the name has stayed the same: Mr. K’s Soft Ice Cream.

“Believe it or not, after fifty years many people are still unaware that we’re a full-service restaurant,” says Dizes. “That’s the name. We’re not going to change it.” From their name to their menu, Mr. K’s plans to stick with how they’ve always operated, providing no-frills, old-fashioned American fare to the nearby neighborhoods.

Over the years, Mr. K’s has become a Charlotte staple and Dizes cites Hurricane Hugo back in 1987 as one of the reasons why. When the hurricane hit the city, Mr. K’s was one of the few place that remained unharmed and with working electricity.

“We were the only ones standing. We remained open and we kept the supplies coming in.”

Pamela lived in Raleigh at the time and would drive supplies from Raleigh to Charlotte each day, bringing as much as she could fit in her car.

“The coffee brewer was going nonstop and Mr. K was just giving it away to help people in some small way,” says Dizes. “After Hugo was gone and everything we back to normal, we had a totally different business, people really connected with us.”

With the support of its customers, Mr. K’s will soon be celebrating fifty years in business. On August 13th, Mr. K’s will open up shop (they’re typically closed on Sundays) to serve the original Mr. K’s menu of soft serve, hot dogs, chips and soda. Mr. and Mrs. K will be there while the shop gives out free meals to the first 1,500 customers, asking for donations in return.

“We’re just asking people to kindly and generously donate to the Levine Children’s Hospital as well as the Isabella Santos Foundation,” says Dizes.

As South End has evolved over fifty years, Mr. K’s has seen many of its original customers leave the neighborhood and with new developments coming to the neighborhood, Dizes looks forward to new customers who can stop by the neighborhood classic.

“Hopefully it won’t take another hurricane for us to bond with the newcomers.”

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