When we were growing up in northern Charlotte, things were different. We lived off of a gravel road, on 14 acres of then undeveloped wooded land. Our parents drove 20 minutes to the Derita Food Lion for groceries, and 30 minutes to our favorite pizza spot, Picasso’s (then in Uptown).
We both moved away for college, and only returned to Charlotte within the past two years. We visited often, but every trip home seemed to present a new and disorienting set of changes to roads, restaurants, shops, or schools. And now, when we’re in the area we called home for our first 18 years, it’s almost unrecognizable. Roads that were once familiar have been re-routed to accommodate 485; the field we played softball on is now a grocery store. In fact, our own childhood home was leveled to make room for schools that would accommodate thousands of new families.
Exploring all of the new additions has been fun, but we’ve also looked forward to rediscovering the familiar places of Charlotte as we knew it back then. Those old sights are few and far between, hard to find amidst the chain restaurants and big box stores. As for the handful of places that have endured, we’re eager to revisit them one-by-one. Our first objective, was to revisit Ninety’s (which in our very early days, was still Gorin’s Homemade Ice Cream).
The ice cream shop, located just below our Dad’s second-floor office at the time, was located at the heart of University Place. University Place was the area’s shiniest, newest mixed-use development, and the home of June Jam: a family-friendly, live music event that we never missed. Ninety’s was the place we met dad for lunch, where we celebrated birthdays and milestones, and where one-year-old Carly met the love of her life, Beaver (pictured above).
Most visits were certainly centered around ice cream; we remember getting many a cup of chocolate, mint chocolate chip, and bubble gum. We loved their sandwiches too, though. We can still picture the grilled cheese on yellow egg bread: a meal we loved, and obediently scarfed down to earn dessert. When we were older, it was where we learned that sprouts weren’t so bad, and that every sandwich should include a pickle on the side.
As most in the area know, Ninety’s recently revamped their interior and added a slew of beautiful desserts to their repertoire. After confirming sandwiches were still on the menu, we decided on a lunch date earlier this month, to check in on an old favorite.
The decor is almost completely different, but we loved to see that the same old terracotta tile was intact.
We didn’t need to read what was on each item to immediately love the menu. True to its name, Ninety’s borrowed names from some of our favorite 90’s shows.
It was a tough call, but we settled on The Fresh Prince and the Phoebe (both on sourdough).
After being good and eating our lunch, we indulged in two of their new dessert offerings: a Cookie Monster Yum-ee Bun, and a Bottom of the Cereal Box Milkshake (we chose Fruity Pebbles). If you think this was an easy choice, think again. There were a lot of enticing options, including ice cream-filled macarons, cookie dough pops and gourmet hot chocolates.
We had no doubt that the new desserts would be good, and they did not disappoint. A lot has changed at Ninety’s… but the 90’s references, childhood cereal-adorned treats, and the combo of sandwiches and ice cream still gave us the nostalgia overload we were looking for.