HUNTERSVILLE – Lupie’s is an original.
There are purple walls, a Pabst Blue Ribbon tower with lights, homemade stained glass portraits and a steady stream of customers well after the lunch hour.
The place looks like your eccentric aunt’s urban apartment with haphazardly strung lights, bumper stickers galore, paper lanterns and original artwork.
And the mixture is organic, as if that aunt started decorating back in the 1970s and just continued on by picking through estate and garage sales on leisurely weekends.
The place is not trying hard to be kitschy and unique. It just simply embodies these things from the decor to the staff to the food.
Every piece of artful treasure in the restaurant has a story: from a customer, a baby shower, a party. A true genuine diner in the world of cookie-cutter restaurants.
Eponymous owner Lupie Duran always wanted her own restaurant.
Her mother died when she was a girl and she ended up at a children’s home in Charlotte. It was there that she began to love cooking and feeding others as she helped out in the kitchen.
From there, she began working in various restaurants and learning the trade.
Twenty-five years ago, her dream became a reality when she opened up the first Lupie’s on Monroe Road in Charlotte.
Twelve years later, Duran opened a second location as Huntersville began to show signs of growth. It used to be Neil’s Drug Store and was reworked to house the restaurant.
Manager Amanda Dickinson used to visit that drug store as a child growing up.
“It’s been so interesting seeing all the changes to Huntersville,” Dickinson said.
The menu at Lupie’s is simple and tries to work with seasonal fruit and vegetables through daily specials. There are four different burgers, various types of chili, 10 sandwiches plus quiches, nachos, soup, salad and vegetable plate.
“And yes, this is the South, so macaroni and cheese is considered a vegetable,” Dickinson said, laughing.
No menu item is over $9.05. This feels like a throwback to a simpler time with its friendly feel and diminutive menu.
Most menu items are made in-house including: mac and cheese, coleslaw, salsa, quiche, mashed potatoes, chicken salad, tuna salad, potato salad, spaghetti sauce and chili.
Speaking of the chili, a customer can order it any which way: vegetarian, with or without beans, mild, medium or hot or with macaroni. Homemade cornbread comes with every bowl.
The food portions are ample, to say the least. Most customers can plan on taking some of their meal home.
“We want people to get an affordable meal and be full walking out the door,” Dickinson said. Patrons can also substitute ingredients from the deceptively simple menu. It offers options for vegetarians or people eating gluten-free.
“That’s the freedom of being an independent restaurant,” Dickinson said. “We truly can make what we want.”
Lupie’s also offers a wide beer selection with both domestics and crafts ranging from $1 to $4. Plus there is house wine by the glass.
The employees function well together and are more like a family than just co-workers.
They’ve been through marriage, babies, divorce and more together. They work as a team, evident in the excellent service.
“We really enjoy being around each other,” Dickinson said. “We even vacation together.”
Lupie’s also is a big part of the community, working with the art crawl, craft fairs and locally run businesses.
“We want to create a sense of community with independent businesses in the area,” Dickinson said. “Mom-and-pop places really need the support.”
Duran often refers to the Huntersville location as the ‘kids.’ Dickinson considers it the wilder younger sister to the original. Either way, visit this truly spectacular, distinctive diner for a one-of-a-kind meal in a one-of-a-kind place.
Want to go? Lupie’s Cafe, 101 S. Old Statesville Road, Huntersville, 704-948-3959