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Women and Company 

Charlotte also has outstanding female restaurateurs

A few weeks ago, I wrote about those chefs the culinary community considered to be Charlotte's best. No woman appeared on that list. However, Charlotte has a growing list of female restaurateurs who have made a successful go in a business with a notorious failure rate. Many of these places have become landmark spots around town.

Cathy Coulter's 300 East has been a Dilworth tradition for almost 20 years. Located in a house built in 1900, the interior has a series of rooms and intimate nooks. When 300 East opened, Dilworth was not the upscale neighborhood it is today and that section of East Boulevard was a bit seedy. But 300 East has always served good food and many of the regulars who made their way to this restaurant back then continue their patronage today.300 East, 300 East Blvd., 704-332-6507.

Pewter Rose was first opened in Spirit Square in 1978 by Helen Scruggs. In 1988, the Pewter Rose Bistro was reborn in a second story loft of a brick warehouse in Charlotte's Southend (but this was before there was this designation). Most of the restaurants in Charlotte at that time were clustered along East Boulevard in Dilworth, in Myers Park, and in SouthPark. Today, Susie Peck, who began her association with the Pewter Rose in the early 1980s, is the managing partner. Her establishment is credited with serving the first upper end wines by the glass in town, when many restaurants were still pawning off cheap stuff.Pewter Rose, 1820 South Boulevard, 704-332-8149.

Not only have sisters Bonnie Warford and Tricia Maddrey of Carpe Diem survived two moves, but they also have prospered. The Carpe Diem saga begins in September 1989 when Warford and Maddrey opened a 53-seat restaurant in the historic Ratcliffe Florist building on South Tryon at a time when downtown was deserted by 6pm. Today, their restaurant is part of the Elizabeth revitalization. Their third incarnation is a nod to the Art Nouveau/Montmarte bistro movement of Paris. Although their chef is John Blumreich, a graduate of the New England Culinary School, Maddrey still creates the desserts.Carpe Diem Restaurant, 1535 Elizabeth Avenue, 704-377-7976.

If you've never been to Lupie's Cafe on Monroe Road, you're missing out on a Charlotte tradition. She (the actual Lupie) is known for her kitschy interior and brilliant, inexpensive comfort foods such as Texas, vegetarian and Cincinnati chilis, burgers, layered nachos, homemade soups, and daily specials such as meatloaf and mashed potatoes and chicken and dumplings. You can buy a lot of food here for less than 10 bucks.Lupie's Cafe, 2718 Monroe Road. 704-374-1232.

Do you miss the inexpensive Italian restaurants which litter the Northeast? The family owned and operated restaurant where typically at least one member of the family is a native of southern Italy? Amalfi, Italian Cuisine is such a place. Owner Olympia Basso, a native of Naples, makes a zesty Margherita Napolitana thin-crusted pizza that has a simplicity unmarred by excess or exaggeration. Slices of tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil will bookmark this restaurant into any pie lover's memory. Or try her Linguine alle Vongole (baby clams): precisely cooked al dente linguine dripping with olive oil, white wine, garlic and sweet clam nectar. Amalfi, Italian Cuisine, 8542 University City Blvd. 704-547-8651.

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