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Social distancing dinner photo captures hearts across Charlotte

A Charlotte couple went for takeout before the Mecklenburg County stay at home went into effect. "This was just us sharing dinner together."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It wasn’t their anniversary or even a special celebration, it was just a husband and wife eating dinner while social distancing at one of their favorite Charlotte restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.

“My wife said this is the last night we should probably be going out to get something, can we get something from Mama R?” said Charles Shepherd.

Charles and his wife of 36 years Susan are doing their best to support local restaurants during COVID-19 and order takeout whenever possible.  The Shepherds live about 20 minutes from Mama Ricotta’s near uptown Charlotte.

So instead of driving the food all the way back home to eat, Charles decided to have dinner tailgate style.  He loaded a card table and two chairs into the back of his red pickup truck.

“Susie grabbed a tablecloth from the drawer (at the house) and it happened to be red and white checked,” Charles said.

It’s the same pattern Mama Ricotta’s uses inside the restaurant.

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When they arrived at the restaurant, Charles set up the table in the bed of his pickup truck to eat takeout.

“It wasn’t really a celebration of anything for us,” Charles said.  “It was just a whim.  Our anniversary is in September. This was just us sharing dinner together at one of our favorite restaurants.”

Several people who were also picking up takeout from the restaurant stopped to ask to take their picture.   One person posted the picture to a private Facebook group and in the matter of hours the photo had more than 1,000 likes. 

Charles said he and his wife really didn’t expect this much attention

“We’re doing fine.  We’re taking care of ourselves … trying to support those who are a little more stressed than we are,” Charles said.  “We’re hanging out, trying to maintain separation.”

Charles works in the banking industry and is working remote during the coronavirus.  Susan is retired.  They have two children and four grandchildren. They have a fifth grandchild on the way.

WCNC Charlotte’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit wcnc.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Carolinas specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 704-329-3600. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning by subscribing to the Wake Up Charlotte newsletter here.

The state of North Carolina has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 866-462-3821 or read the frequently asked questions.  In South Carolina, for general questions about the coronavirus, call the DHEC Care Line 1-855-472-3432. Staff are answering calls 8 a.m.-6 p.m. every day.