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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Charlotte Restaurants Prepare For Passover, Easter Amid Coronavirus Struggles


Phil Levine, the owner of Phil’s Deli in Charlotte, is usually busy this time of year cooking big batches of brisket, chopped liver and matzo ball soup for customers to pick up, take home and share with their families during the Passover seder. This year, Levine said he has about 80% less holiday business. 


Restaurants across North Carolina are only open for takeout, delivery and drive-thru because of the coronavirus. Levine said he has some loyal customers who plan to order carryout on Passover or Easter. But fewer families are getting together to celebrate in person because of the statewide stay-at-home order, including Levine’s. 


“I’ll probably take a little brisket home and have my little personal seder, I guess," Levine said. "We do FaceTime a lot with the kids so we probably will do that."


Phil’s Deli has cut its kitchen staff in half and now orders less from suppliers. 


For Easter, Charlotte Mediterranean restaurant Ilios Noche offers a to-go dinner for four, with a choice between a roast rack of lamb or prime rib. But Frank Kaltsounis with Xenia Hospitality Group, which owns the restaurant, said it is also facing decreased demand. 

“People are hunkered down now," Kaltsounis said. "They’ve been ravaging supermarket shelves so a lot of people are stocked up.”  

The majority of North Carolina’s 18,000 restaurants have closed -- some likely forever -- and those that have stayed open do not earn much from takeout and delivery, said Lynn Minges, president of the state’s Restaurant and Lodging Association. 

“They’re just doing this as a stopgap measure to try to stay afloat,” Minges said. 

To try to adapt to the new stay-at-home world, Xenia Hospitality Group plans to expand into curbside groceries and sell supplies like Greek olive oil and toilet paper, Kaltsounis said.  

Meanwhile, Alyssa’s Kitchen has had greater-than-expected interest in its prepared family dinners for Easter and Passover. The company’s owner and chef, Alyssa Wilen, estimated it received at least 75 orders for brisket and also offered a seder plate option with traditional foods like charoset. Its Easter menu includes carrot cake whoopie pies. 


“A lot of people are used to getting together and now that they’re not, maybe what your family member or friend would make, you are kind of missing so you want to find a way to include it without getting together,” Wilen said.

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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.