Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Closing of Cosmos signals the end of an era

Cosmos was more than a restaurant. When it opened in the late ‘90s, it established Sixth and College as an entertainment destination.

Back then; Charlotte’s nightclub scene wasn't centralized. There were pockets of clubs along Independence Avenue, the Wilkinson Boulevard and a few spots on Park Road.

There was no EpiCentre or NC Music Factory. Uptown still deserted after 6 p.m. But brothers Gus and George Georgoulias and their friends Andy Kastanas, Tom Tsilimos and George Stergiou opened Mythos at Sixth and College in 1993.

Mythos welcome everybody, black and white, straight and gay, and crossdressers too. The music pumping and vibe was cool.

But Mythos’ impact was mostly limited to the weekends. There still wasn’t much happening on weekday nights.

Then came Cosmos with its small plates (in a town accustomed to heaping plates of food) and craft cocktails. (Yes, Stefan Huebner was making craft cocktails there before mixology was part of the entertainment lexicon). Suddenly, young people had a reason to hang out uptown. Cosmos was the cool spot.

The success of Cosmos which had a lounge vibe in the evenings and featured a late-night menu, showed other aspiring restaurant and club owners that uptown could be an entertainment district. After Cosmos, more clubs quickly followed. There was Bar Charlotte and the Hut. (I can't forget Have A Nice Day Cafe as one reader reminded me via email.) Suddenly, Sixth and College was the epicenter of Charlotte nightlife.

Actually, that block was Charlotte’s uptown nightlife until the Irish crew s took over Fifth and Tryon years later with Connolly’s and now closed Madison’s.

Cosmos gave us more than an entertainment destination. It also gave us a few people who would be pivotal in expanding Charlotte’s entertainment options.  It was one of the first uptown establishments to feature themed nights such as Latin night, and let outside promoters host parties there.

Thanks to Cosmos we got Huebner who now mixes drinks at Heist and throughout the country. Brothers Branko and Djordje Avramovic's, owners of Intermezzo Pizzeria and Cafe at Central and Louise avenues, were former busboys and barbacks at Cosmos.

I’ll be sad to see Cosmos and basically most of the block change ownership. The Yeorgoulias brothers, Kastanas, Tsilimos and Stergiou were visionaries and risk takers. Opening Cosmos when the did and where they did was a bold move. Their vision transformed uptown from a place to work to a place to play and now live.

So if you’re free on Saturday, head over to Sixth and College to say goodbye to the block that started it all and salute the men who had the guts to make it happen.

Cosmos, Phoenix and Republic will all host closing parties Jan. 9. Cosmos closes on Jan. 13.