Serving the Queen City & Abroad Since 1972
In May of 1972, the three Balsley brothers — Robert, John, and Steve — purchased an existing wine shop on East 5th Street in downtown Charlotte called Arthur’s Gourmet Shop which was owned by Arthur Pressman, who was hoping to retire. The shop was approximately 1,500 square feet and the purchase price was $6,000.
The brothers soon realized that they would not be able to pay their bills by just selling wine, so Robert started to make sandwiches for the employees of Ivey’s Department store — which was across the street. These sandwiches proved to be very popular and the brothers added more tables as well as draft beer to their menu. By the spring of 1973, customers were lined up every day for “Arthur’s” sandwiches.
But, by the summer of 1973, the Balsley’s were told that their building at the corner of 5th and Church Street was being razed for a surface parking lot. Learning this, an Ivey executive asked the brothers if they would be interested in relocating Arthur’s to the department store’s lower-level coffee shop.
This move happened in the fall of 1973 and was a significant one for Charlotte —which is famously located in the historic “Bible Belt” — because selling wine and beer in a department store was considered sacrilegious to many in Queen City. Even though some opposed this idea, the move proved to be a wise one as business quadrupled after the move to Ivey’s.
At this time the CEO of Ivey’s Department Store, George Ivey, asked the Balsleys if they would consider expanding to other Ivey locations. Arthur’s expanded to several other locations in North Carolina cities Raleigh, Greensboro, and Durham, as well as locations in South Carolina such as Greenville and Myrtle Beach.
The Balsleys continued to operate seven stores within Ivey’s and also opened up several other various food service operations in Charlotte during the 1980s. In the spring of 1990, Ivey’s Department Store was sold to Dillard’s Department Store causing Arthur’s to have to relocate to Belk’s in the South Park Mall— where it has remained since 1991. In early 2013 Arthur’s acquired Dilworth Coffee on the main floor of Belk SouthPark and remodeled the space in 2014.
The Balsley family’s next generation is committed to continuing the family tradition of great service and hospitality for many years to come.