People and Places

People and Places: Lovick's Cafe

A lot has changed here in downtown Kinston over the years. Stores and restaurants have come and gone. But there's one still serving up great food in the same spot since the early 1940s.

The locals love it. And now, people from all over the world are paying attention too.

"I think it's a unique stop along the way,” said Steve Lovick, who owns the cafe. 

Lovick's Cafe opened on North Heritage Street back in 1941.

"And then you see we've been here 77 years you say, well, something must be good,” said Lovick. 

Steve Lovick is the third-generation owner of the Lenoir County landmark.

"What we've always tried to do is stay simple,” said Lovick. “We don't try to be somebody we're not. But I think it's that simplicity. People come in here and they think they're home. And that's the way we always want to leave it."

And it's not just the customers feeling right at home. The workers at Lovick's Cafe do too.

"I've got two that's been here longer than me,” said Lovick. “They actually worked for my dad and my sister."

Cook Patty Fulghum is one of them. She's worked at the cafe for 34 years.

"I started out as a dishwasher,” said Fulghum. “Then I moved myself up as a waitress. Then I moved myself up as a breakfast cook."

It's 20 years on the job for waitress Sherica Champman, a job that came about by chance.

"First of all, I didn't come for a job,” Champman said. “My friend was actually working here and somebody didn't come in or somebody quit. And so Steve Lovick, I was back there in the back just sitting down, and Steve Lovick came back there and was like, do you know how to waitress? And I was like, no sir. And he was like, well you're going to learn today."

The employees remain consistent. And so too does the food. Lovick's is a go-to breakfast spot for many. 

But for some, it's the doughburger that brings them in.

Created in the 1940's as a way to stretch the dollar, the doughburger is part hamburger, part flour, served on bread instead of a bun.

Today, Lovick's sells as many as 300 of them a day.

"We haven't changed it,” said Lovick. “We've still got the same mixer. But we still make it the same way. Same amount of meat, same amount of flour, same amount of onions, salt, pepper, some other ingredients. So we haven't changed anything about it."

In a town now known for craft beer and up and coming restaurants, it's Lovick's that's remained a constant in downtown Kinston.
And in the process, they've gained fans from all over the world.

"In one walk around, this is true, there was a couple from Germany, one from London, one from Bar Harbor, Maine; Orlando and Nashville,” said Lovick. “In one walk around on a Friday morning. So, if my dad and my grandad were still living they wouldn't be able to believe it. It's crazy, really. In little old Kinston, North Carolina, and Lovick's Cafe."

While visitors are always welcome, it's the locals who help keep Lovick's going.

Lovick said some customers come in and they eat the same thing every day. And the servers will be at the computer punching in the order before they even sit down because they know what they're going to get.

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