Customers worried about upcoming changes at The Penguin

Customers worried about upcoming changes at The Penguin

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by TONY BURBECK / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Tony: TBurbeck@WCNC.com

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on September 21, 2010 at 6:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 22 at 8:16 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Customers at an iconic Charlotte restaurant will see changes in the coming months.

The Penguin is changing owners and staff and customers say once that happens, the restaurant just won’t be the same place.

Right now, The Penguin is where young meets old, hip meets square and famous hamburgers meet fried pickles.

Next month, the family that owns the building and the name is taking the restaurant over from the people who have run the restaurant over the last decade.

The change in ownership is causing a huge buzz at the restaurant, in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood and on Facebook.

According to employees, the owners apparently want to franchise the name.

“We worked hard to build this place to what it is and we want to keep it that way,” says General Manager Rhyne Franklin.

"You can't re-create character,” says customer Laurie Hudson.

Hudson is the reason that Farrish Carter is at the Penguin Drive-In on Tuesday, taking pictures.

"It's exactly what I thought it was," he says.

Hudson told him he had to visit the restaurant while vacationing in Charlotte.

"Part of the drill,” Hudson says. “We come to The Penguin."

It didn't disappoint Carter.

"You can't bottle this,” he says.

The restaurant has been around since 1954. Pictures from the days of way back look like a scene from the sitcom “Happy Days” or the movie "Grease."

Now, long lunch lines have people in suits standing next to tattooed 20-somethings.

"Everybody, all races, black, white, young, old comes here to eat,” says customer Dayan Marquinna.

"It feels like an experience,” Carter said.

That experience is something customers aren't sure can be kept in this spot, and are waiting to see if it can be recreated in the other.

The property owners have posted messages on Facebook that say The Penguin's character won't change; the only changes will be a few more seats and upgraded bathrooms.

But the folks who've worked hard resurrecting it are moving around the corner to run The Diamond.

October 24 is the last day of The Penguin as they know it.

Some Facebook posts are prompting customers to boycott the restaurant after October 24.


 

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