The Charlotte Fire Department has closed down Asian Corner Mall due to inoperable fire safety systems and a lack of fire watch, temporarily shutting down Le’s Sandwiches & Cafe.
Tuan Nguyen, who owns the banh mi shop with his parents, Minh Quang Nguyen and Le Thi Le-Nguyen, said Monday that the issue stems from a water pipe that burst on Christmas Eve, as unusually low temperatures lingered in the Charlotte area. Shop owners had thought they could reopen shortly afterward, but that turned out not to be the case — and they’ve been closed ever since.
“It’s forever for my parents. They have nothing to do, and all they know is work,” Nguyen told CharlotteFive on Monday afternoon.
‘Egregious violations of the fire code’
A Monday email from Charlotte Fire Department spokesman Kevin Campbell said, “For life safety issues, 4500 and 4520 N. Tryon was evacuated due to inoperability of life safety systems and blocked, locked and obstructed exits. In order to reopen these buildings, all life safety systems must be fully operational along with current fire alarm and sprinkler inspection reports without deficiencies, all exits must be operational and clear of obstructions and locks, and all life safety violations and egregious violations of the fire code must be corrected.”
A second email from Campbell clarifying the timeline of events said, “Charlotte Fire evacuated the building on Jan. 12 due to no fire watch being in place. On Jan. 14, again there was no fire watch in place and the building was once again evacuated and deemed unsafe for occupancy.”
A statement to CharlotteFive from Cooper Morrison, a principal with property owner Beauxwright, said: “Beauxwright can confirm that the Charlotte Fire Department closed the Asian Corner Mall Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, due to unsafe conditions related to the old age and poor condition of the building, which predate our ownership. We thank the Charlotte Fire Department for their diligence, and are jointly committed to keeping our tenants and their patrons safe.
“Beauxwright purchased the building Sept. 8, 2022, and since then we have worked with each tenant to support their plans to move and/or relocate their businesses. That continues today.”
‘Working with the landlord to figure out a solution’
After hanging in limbo, the sandwich shop first posted a message on Instagram a week ago, saying, “The Charlotte Fire Dept. isn’t allowing anyone isn’t allowing anyone, including us, into the mall. We will be closed until the situation is resolved. Sorry to anyone who have been trying to call or come to the shop. We’ll keep y’all posted.”
A more recent post said, “Just a quick update guys … the Charlotte Fire Dept have completely shut the mall off to any customers and tenants at this point. We are not the only one effected (sic) by this decision — it effects our customers and the other businesses within the mall. We’re working with the new landlord to figure out a solution. Thanks for the support. We’ll keep you updated.”
The largely empty Asian Corner Mall — now set for redevelopment into apartments, office space and fresh retail outlets — has long been in disrepair. The central space lacks heating or air conditioning, and for years, a beeping alarm has greeted visitors who walk through the front doors. Many of the storefronts have been vacant for just as long.
Many tenants at the aging property saw their leases run out at the end of December 2022. One of those businesses, Maxim Nail Mall Supply, moved to The Centrum shopping center in Pineville, where it celebrated its grand opening this past weekend.
International Market was set to close at the end of the year but had hoped to extend its time at Asian Corner just a little longer to sell out its remaining inventory before Lunar New Year celebrations this past weekend, Tuan Nguyen said. Others, however, including the Dragon Court Chinese restaurant, are permanently closed.
NC Nails Academy was still operating inside Asian Corner before the closure. Le’s had planned on hanging on inside Asian Corner just a bit longer, as well, with a plan to move into a new Beauxwright-owned space nearby.
Now, the Nguyens are trying to formulate a new plan, looking at finding a ghost kitchen space or even renting a food truck. Construction is expected to be finished in April or shortly afterward.
“We’re just trying to figure out our options,” Nguyen said.
Reporting for this article was contributed by Anna Douglas of the Charlotte Observer.
Le’s Sandwiches & Cafe
Location: 4520 N. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28213
Cuisine: Vietnamese, banh mi
This tale was initially printed January 23, 2023, 10:52 AM.
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Heidi Finley is a author and editor for CharlotteFive and the Charlotte Observer. Outdoors of operate, you will most possible come across her in the suburbs driving children all around, volunteering and indulging in foodie pursuits.
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