Captain’s Cap anchored by fish camp-style menu

By Molly Reitter

BELMONT – Spero Stathopoulos came over from Athens, Greece at 17 years old in 1971 with his parents due to a military coup. He began working in restaurants, and along with family members, opened the first Captain’s Cap in Gastonia in 1981 at the foothills of Crowder Mountain.
Then in 1992, a second location opened in Belmont.
The third and final restaurant opened in Denver in 2001.
“I have been very lucky because my sons want to be involved in the business,” Spero Stathopoulos said. His son, George, is the manager of the Denver location and his other son, Andreas, is a Johnson and Wales graduate and runs the kitchen.
From the outside, the Belmont location looks like a typical fish camp-style eatery.
It’s the kind of place that serves the majority of its seafood deep-fried and the odor clings to your hair and clothes long after you’ve left.
However, the interior of the Captain’s Cap in Belmont is nicely casual with comfortable chairs and absolutely no smell whatsoever. Just a place to get a tasty, big meal at a nice price.
The Captain’s Cap in Belmont is open for lunch five days a week (Monday through Friday) and dinner 6 days a week (Monday through Saturday). The restaurant is closed on Sundays.
It is open 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for lunch, and there is a specific menu with food items starting at $4.75. The early dinner business is geared toward seniors who have a designated menu.
This menu has less expensive options that come with hushpuppies, a side and a trip to the boat-shaped salad bar. “We respect the seniors, you know,” said Stathopoulos with a shrug.
“We give them a good deal with good food and they keep coming back.”
The amount of made-in-house items is surprising. They do not skimp on ingredients or freshness here. They make their own breading, cocktail sauce, dressings, potato salad, clam chowder and spaghetti sauce, which is made from a 40-year old recipe.
The hushpuppies are made inhouse and fresh every day. The steaks are hand-cut, the chicken is cut in-house and the beef tips are marinated in the kitchen. Plus the seafood is very fresh.
“I’ve known these vendors for years,” Stathopoulos said. “We get the very best fish here.”
The salmon is broiled in olive oil and light spice. It tastes simple yet flavorful as the freshness is allowed to come through.
The whole fried Tilapia is a wonder. It fills the entire plate with head and tail still on. The fish is flakey and delicate with just the right amount of crunch.
“Yes, this is how we’ve prepared it for years,” Stathopoulos said. “We’ve had time to perfect it.” The Captain’s Cap has a large seating area and is decked out in a nauti¬cal motif. It is the perfect place for a large family party or other occasion. The vibe is casual and impeccable service is the norm. Customers pay at the counter and can then check out the large, vintage candy selection. “The candy idea came from the first restaurant I worked at in New Lon¬don,” Stathopoulos said. “It gives the restaurant a homey feel.”
The restaurant also does a big car¬ryout business. Customers are free to call in their orders and they will be carefully packed and ready to be picked up.
Many of the customers just call when they are getting off work and Captain’s Cap has it ready and wait¬ing for them, according to Statho¬poulos.
The restaurant is a true family place, starting with the family who opened it and continues to run all the locations.
“It was always my hope that my sons would take over one day,” Stathopou¬los said. “And now I’m phasing out and they are starting to run (loca¬tions) on their own.”

Want to go?
Captain’s Cap is located at 670 Park St., Belmont. Details: 704-825-4103.

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