Hidden Charlotte lunch spot bringing people together with free lunches

North Carolina news

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46) – A NoDa staple is bringing their famous Sunday Free Lunches back after a months-long hiatus due to the pandemic.

For those unfamiliar with NoDa Company Store, if you blink you might miss it. The beer garden has been quietly tucked away on its lot on Yadkin Avenue for about 5 years, but what they’ve been doing not so quietly ever since they’ve opened, is feeding people every Sunday, for free.

“We rolled up in here, we brought extra hamburgers for anybody who was going to be around that day,” Joey Hewell, co-owner of NoDa Company Store explained on how Sunday Funday Free Lunch started. “The next week we did it again and then it just kind of snowballed into Sunday Funday Free Lunch.”

The pandemic forced Hewell and co-owner, Scott Lindsley, to pause their goodwill get-togethers.

“Joey wanted to give hotdogs away from behind our house,” Lindsley said.

Now, they’re back with month’s of worldly recipes just waiting be tested.

“We’ve done tacos, in the winter we’ve done stuff like Brunswick stew or chili,” he added.

This Sunday, the menu featured Bahn Mi hotdogs.

“We get to try new things, but on a massive scale,” Hewell said.

The free lunches kick off at 11 a.m. and go until the food runs out. Lindsley said they often serve up to 150 plates.

“I think I might have been one of the first customers in the door,” Shane Thomas, a regular customer said.

Thomas recalled helping flip burgers at one of the first lunches and said he’s met several new friends at the community gatherings, including Eric Rhodes who used to drive from Concord every Sunday until he moved to the NoDa neighborhood.

There’s only one catch to attending the free lunch: No takeout allowed.

“You don’t have to buy anything, but it’s intended for you to sit down, maybe meet somebody else that you’re sitting there talking to,” Lindsley said.

It’s the whole reason Hewell and Lindsley started doing this.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or how much money you have, or even if you live in the neighborhood, it really is a community thing,” Hewell said.

Turns out, it’s a “community thing” that the community loves right back.

“It says that there’s nothing quite like to NoDa neighborhood and there’s definitely no one quite like Joey and Scott,” Thomas said.

Sunday Funday Free Lunch is actually responsible for a few marriages. Hewell and Scott tell FOX 46 that they’ve even hosted weddings for the people who’ve met at the Free Lunch, right there on the beer garden’s patio.

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