Gluttons owners selling 32 years of memories
BY HALEY JONES
During 32 years in business, Gluttons Restaurant co-owners Laurie Dean and Melanie Shippee accumulated a lot of antiques, artwork and eclectic pieces.
Most of that stuff, ranging from unique decorative pieces to the kitchen equipment, will be auctioned off at the restaurant from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 10.
“There are a number of items that are just too sentimental to part with, but — sad as it may be — you have to let most of it go,” Shippee explained.
With that said, the sisters have decided to part with more than they originally had planned.
A POSITIVE OMEN
Shippee recalls when Statesville’s popular Mexican restaurant, El Tío’s closed. Located in the Newtowne Plaza, El Tio’s was in operation in the eighties and nineties. After closing, the owners decided to sell their décor and equipment with the help of a full-service auction company.
Dean, who attended the auction in hopes of purchasing restaurant equipment, picked up a business card from the auctioneer. Many years later, Dean found this card tucked safely away. Believing it to be a positive omen, the sisters contacted the auction company to conduct their sale.
SELLING FAMILY TREASURES
"The hardest part about closing has been deciding what to keep and what to let go," said Dean.
Shippee recalls the weeks leading up to the restaurant's New Year’s Eve closing. Many people expressed an interest in purchasing some of Gluttons beloved eclectic décor – especially artwork created by the sisters’ late brother, Mike Walsh.
"He would be so pleased to know this," the sisters said as they recalled their brother’s passion for his art.
Three of Walsh’s spider web paintings will be for sale, and several other early works.
The spider web art on the walls of Gluttons were Walsh’s signature pieces. He would begin his process by painting blank canvases with various colors, creating nature scenes. Then, through careful planning and patience, Walsh would find a real spider web and spray it with adhesive. He would then take his painted canvas, walking carefully and slowly into the spider web, to adhere the web to the canvas.
Initially, the sister’s had not planned to sell any of Walsh’s work. However, over time, Shippee and Dean realized that they could share their brother’s work with others.
"Although we love everything he ever painted, we realize he would want others to enjoy his beautiful and unusual ‘naturescapes’," Shippee said.
In addition to Walsh's paintings, his one-of-a-kind floor lamps will also be for sale. One lamp has been part of the restaurant décor for years The other lamp has never been seen by patron's eyes.
OTHER ELECTIC PIECES FOR SALE
The sisters hope that the oak bars and the two-story cherry bar will find their home in another unique restaurant or establishment.
"These antique pieces hold within them many drinks, laughter and stories,” Shippee said. “It would be great to know their future home will hold more of the same."
All of Gluttons iconic old singer sewing machine tables and copper top tables will be auctioned. After some debate, it was agreed that the door table will also be auctioned.
“This has always been a favorite but we’re bidding it farewell,” Dean said.
There is much excitement at the prospect of finding a new home for the backlit stained glass that adorns the staircase.
“This piece alone can provide all the ambiance anyone could ask for,” Shippee said, imagining it landing in a unique restaurant.
With the promise that the auctioneer will sell everything including the kitchen sink, the sisters are anxiously await the day of the auction. All requests from customers to buy décor beforehand have been denied because of auction house's inventory rules.
"It has been an awkward position to be in but we hope everyone understands," the sisters said apologetically.
LIFE AFTER GLUTTONS
The sisters have enjoyed life after Gluttons.
To start, Dean has made a hobby out of yard work.
“I enjoy reading and walking with Melanie and her dogs but my flowers are taking up most of my time during this beautiful weather,” Dean said.
“It looks ready to be photographed for Lawn and Garden magazine,” Shippee joked.
Dean has also spent time in her art studio creating more mosaic and stained glass pieces. Some of these pieces may be available for purchase at the auction.
Shippee just finished five weeks of her Sterling Cotillion classes in Mooresville. "It is actually easier to teach 120 fifth- to eighth-grade students manners, etiquette and dancing than it is to run a restaurant,” she said.
Additionally, Shippee has enjoyed teaching step aerobics three days of the week, walking her beloved Goldendoodles, playing pickleball, and spending time with family and friends.
“It is the makings of a happy life,” she said.
One of the things Shippee and Dean enjoy most is being able to patronize all of the “wonderful restaurants in our area."
"We love being waited on," they said. “And to all of those who ask us if we miss it, the answer is no. But we definitely do miss all of our wonderful customers and employees.”