King Street Moe’s Closure: A Heartbreaking Farewell

#nomorequeso :'(

King Street Moes Closure: A Heartbreaking Farewell

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On Monday night, I was scrolling on Instagram when I came across some reality-shifting news. A reposted Post and Courier article informed me that the Moe’s Southwest Grill on King Street was closed. This was shocking for several reasons. First, the article announced that the Moe’s had already closed on January 21st, and I had just heard of the closure on the 24th. How had the closure of such a landmark among teens gone so unnoticed? Secondly, the Moe’s will reportedly be replaced by a Refuel, a convenience store chain. Before I divulge into my dramatics, here are the facts. According to the Post and Courier, the Moe’s closure is partially due to a lease dispute, leading to a settlement with Refuel. Refuel’s CEO, Mark Jordan, reports that their new location will include everything that the store traditionally offers, except for gasoline, taking the traditional “fuel” aspect out of “Refuel.” To this I respond with some gratitude, as I would hope that no reasonable city planner type would allow for a gas station on downtown’s most walkable street.

The classic, comforting interior of Moe’s on King Street

One of my biggest regrets in terms of this situation is that I never got to formally say “goodbye.” I probably ate a Mini Masterpiece at this Moe’s less than a week ago, but I was unaware that this would be my last time. I have had so many memories in those warm and weathered leather booths. So many times have I gazed out of the window on the corner of King and Calhoun, watching casual shoppers and CofC students. Where else will thirteen year-olds flock for lunch when their parents allow them to roam the King Street shops unsupervised for the first time? I have tasted more than salty chips and adobo chicken at the King Street Moe’s, it was here that I first tasted adolescent freedom.

The addition of a convenience store on the familiar King Street rubs me the wrong way. This specific instance reminds me of when the Crosby’s on the crosstown was closed to be replaced by an enormous Publix and apartment complex monstrosity. Maybe I am just a little distraught when I see the city that I grew up in change so drastically, but I think the introduction of Refuel, especially on King Street, is a symptom of a bigger problem facing Charleston locals. I understand that the Moe’s situation is largely different than that of Crosby’s. Moe’s is a chain, Crosby’s was and still is locally-owned and operated. Moe’s is also not “historic” or unique to Charleston in any sense, so there is no distinct cultural loss. This location was two decades old though, originally opening its doors in 2001, which hold’s some merit to its overall significance to the area.

While I am devastated by the premature closure of Moe’s, I am more so frustrated with what will be replacing it. I don’t have endless knowledge on Refuel, but according to their website, Refuel defines themselves as “anything but [a] typical” convenience store and “a place you’ll want to visit.” Priding themselves on a clean, bright, and safe shopping environment, Refuel appears to set themselves apart from other convenience stores. However, not only is there an abundance of convenience stores downtown and within walking distance for downtown-dwellers and college students, there is one right across the street from the future Refuel location. Directly across from the ex-Moe’s, also on the corner of King and Calhoun, lies a Walgreens. Not only that, but this Walgreens is pretty new and according to my personal opinion, also offers a clean, safe, and bright shopping environment. It is so illogical to open a store which offers the exact same products in such satirically-close proximity. Simply put, it’s hard for me to be excited about a convenience store and I generally find myself asking “who cares” or “who asked” for a Refuel here? What does it add to daily life if there is already a Walgreens 50 feet away?

While those in defense of Refuel argue that at least the chain is local, it doesn’t excuse the lack of necessity for another convenience store downtown, especially in such a prominent location. While you could definitely argue that the recent introduction of a Chipotle on King Street follows the same pattern of irrelevance, serving very similar food to Moe’s, I argue back in a personal manner. I have only eaten at that Chipotle, or any Chipotle for that matter, once, and it was because the Moe’s was closed due to being short-staffed. Maybe I am being too dramatic, a likely possibility. I can eat at other Moe’s locations, like the one right by school. I could convert to Chipotle. Both of these practical solutions ignore my irrational emotional tie to this location. However, in a bittersweet way, I suppose the closure of Moe’s on King represents the end of another era for me. I’m about to flee the nest for college anyway, so I presumably won’t even be around long to see the Refuel in action, as it is expected to open this summer.