Carolina Ale House
RALEIGH-Lou Moshakos, the owner of his new flagship restaurant in Raleigh Carolina ale house, jumped at the chance to show off the glass wall that he could turn into a railing by pushing a button just behind the bar.
Amber Moshakos, his daughter, said that “it’s his toys.”
Carolina Ale House’s new restaurant opened in Glenwood South earlier this year. It features technology, heat radiating floors, and tablet-based menus. The concept also includes more than 70 TVs that are tuned to different games, 99 bottles of beer (and nearly as many on draft), and a kitchen that prepares the pub’s food fresh from scratch.
This space is the result of many years of learning and experience by an aggressive Raleigh-based family company that runs 25 Carolina Ale Houses in six states and seven other dining options in the Triangle and coastal North Carolina.
Lou, 69, of Cary is president of LM Restaurants. His wife Joy, 60, as well as his daughter Amber (33), are also part of his executive team.
Amber manages corporate affairs at LM Restaurants while Lou focuses his attention on future locations as well as construction projects.
Lou and Joy’s 28-year-old daughter Chantal is LM Restaurants corporate affairs manager. Crystal, the 30-year-old middle daughter, also assists with special projects.
The company now employs approximately 2,500 people, but it began with Lou and Joy, a mom-and-pop operation. Joy stated, “I was in my kitchen, and he shucked oysters and mussels.”
Start Small Carolina Ale House
Lou immigrated to Canada at the age of 18 from Greece. He met Joy and they married. They moved to Boca Raton in Florida and purchased the Seafood Shanty in 1978, a small mom-and-pop seafood joint in Deerfield Beach going shopping. They opened a second location of Seafood Shanty and also opened a steakhouse. The Moshakos eventually sold the restaurants in the 1980s and bought three Miami Subs as a hot franchise concept.
Lou searched the Southeast for good schools and a growing community. The Moshakos decided not to live in South Florida with their three daughters. He found the perfect place in the Triangle, and sold all of his Florida Miami Subs.
He said, “Just in case it doesn’t work out here,”
He began construction in Raleigh on Miami Subs and then moved his family to Cary in 1992. The couple built and purchased 10 Miami Subs throughout the state by 1996.
Lou stated that he was unhappy with Miami Subs’s decision to make cuts and modifications to his top-selling Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. Lou stated, “People are smart.” “You cannot cheat people or try to give them false value.”
Ideas for Sketching Napkins
- Each year, the family makes a month-long trip to Moshakos’ native Greece. Lou had an epiphany on the return flight to Greece in 1996 baroque fashion.
- The girls and Joy were on a layover in London Heathrow Airport. Joy and Joy went to McDonald’s for lunch, while Lou went to the Shakespeare Ale House.
- Lou said that he was fascinated by a TV program about how much time Americans spend watching Sunday sports on television before he left for Greece.
- He was so inspired that he went into the alehouse. Joy was back in the ale house when he first saw him, and he was already at work on his new venture.
Joy stated that Joy had said, “Here we are again,” at the time
Lou sketched his ideas on napkins and reached out to his agent to purchase a closed Chinese restaurant in Raleigh’s Creekside Drive.
He said that the restaurant was struggling at first. The concept of an alehouse was not understood by anyone, making it difficult for people to visit what the Moshakos discovered to be a challenging place.
Lou stated that “We really suffered for the first two years, up to the point (where), we came very, very close” to closing the business. “My accountant and my wife told me to “Take the losses and move forward.”
Lou opened a Wild Turkey Bourbon bottle in 2001 and drank everything he could. He struggled with the conflict between the advice of his accountant and his instinct to preserve the idea he believed. Lou still owns the bottle and said, “It was very, very difficult to make.”
Addition of a Second Location
He maintained the first ale house in fashion banner Raleigh with Miami Subs profits and opened the Carolina Ale House in 2002. It was a huge success which helped propel the Raleigh location to profitability.
Lou stated, “We knew that we had the right idea; all we needed was the right place.”
The family has been focusing on the opening of company-owned holdings in North Carolina and Tennessee over the years. However, they have also worked with other people to expand Carolina Ale House into five additional states.
Carolina Ale House expanded to south Florida in 2005 through a joint venture with Lou and Joe Marouf. Joe Marouf bought Lou’s last Miami Subs in Florida. Three ale houses are now owned by the venture.
After Lou and Joy granted Chris Sullivan a Carolina Ale House licence, seven Carolina Ale Houses opened in South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas. Chris used to frequent the Durham location.
The family also acquired a company to own five restaurants in Wrightsville Beach in the southern coast of North Carolina over the years.
The family sold most of Miami Subs and transformed three into New Bern Subs. They also opened Papa Lou’s which is a fast-casual burger restaurant that closed later to focus on the acquisitions in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach.
The family returned from Greece with olive oil and continued their annual trip. Flying Olive Farms was formed by the family to import Greek specialty products such as Vrisi36 extra virgin olive oil. It is available at Whole Foods Markets located in Cary and Raleigh.
Lou said that the Carolina Ale House best is yet Ahead
LM Restaurants will open Carolina Ale Houses at Chapel Hill and Garner in 2015 (Sullivan also plans to open one in Charleston). However, the company is also working to move its Greek restaurant Taverna Agora downtown Raleigh.
LM Restaurants will also be introducing new concepts such as a brewery in Wilmington, a small-plate Mediterranean restaurant on Glenwood Avenue’s first floor, and a Carolina Ale House on the second.
The family had to say goodbye the previous Glenwood South location before they opened the new flagship. They closed it at the end.
The Moshakos began the New Year’s Eve celebration at Creekside Drive, and then moved to the nearly finished construction site. Joy stated, “It was like saying goodbye the old and saying hello to the future.”