Sports Page: A recipe for local restaurant success

by Molly Reitter

CHARLOTTE – Sports Page is legendary.

You have probably eaten there, maybe a fresh vegetable plate or burger. You’ve probably grabbed a drink there, maybe a $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboy or $1.85 beer special.

The Asian chicken salad features grilled chicken with teriyaki glaze over mixed greens, grape tomatoes, red onions, fresh mushrooms and mandarin oranges, and is then topped with fried wonton noodles and served with a fat-free sesame dressing. (Erik Reitter/MI Monitor photo)

But what do you actually know about the favorite local restaurant? The Bryants began the restaurant over a holiday weekend in 1987 thinking it would be slow and they could learn the business. They have been slammed ever since.

On July 7, 1987, Mike and Deborah Bryant opened Sports Page in a small strip mall on Brookshire Boulevard across from the ABC liquor store.

“We only had one waitress, one bartender, two cooks and myself to run the register,” Deborah Bryant said. “The line was around the corner by the time we opened the door.”

The restaurant grew so quickly that they expanded to the space next door. But soon it became clear that they needed even more room. So they took a chance and moved to the present location in Coulwood in 1993.

“There was not much around at the time,” Deborah Bryant said. “But we still had a line out the door.”

Taht’s because Sports Page is the perfect local restaurant. There are 35 high-definition TVs. There are homemade country specials such as fried pork chops and chicken pot pie.. There are fresh vegetables cooked to order, such as collard greens, fried squash, pinto beans and green beans.

But there are also more urbane offerings such as the ahi tuna salad with fresh, seared tuna and goat cheese.

“We have high quality and low prices,” Deborah Bryant said. “When food prices went up, we kept our prices the same.”

Sports Page is also is a big part of the community. Couloak little league teams sport the restaurant’s name. They sponsor many other sports teams and churches as well. They cater to schools, churches and businesses.

Brad Barber manages the restaurant. It’s all in the family, as his dad and Michael Bryant are first cousins. Plus Barber’s mom and Deborah Bryant have been best friends since elementary school.

“We are so fortunate to have Brad,” said Deborah Bryant fondly. “I am trying to remove myself from the business a bit and it is easier to do knowing he is here.”

Barber began working at the restaurant washing dishes and slowly moved his way up. He also grew up in Coulwood. A true local boy running the local eatery. In fact, many of the servers have been working here for more than 20 years. No wonder the service is so solid.

Bill Norman eats at the restaurant at least once a week.

“I’ve never had a bad meal,” he said. “It is all so good.”

Deborah Bryant smiles at the compliment.

“Oh, I know him,” she said with a smile. Then she brings out a homemade peach cobbler with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

“I do believe you have to love what you do to be successful,” Deborah Bryant said as she watches the ice cream melt over the hot cobbler.

Both the love and the success are clear at Sports Page.

Sports Page Coulwood

8400 Bellhaven Blvd., Charlotte


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