Hidden Gems of CLT: Felix Empanadas

Watch a new episode of Hidden Gems of Charlotte with Alexandra Elich each Thursday on WCCB News Rising.

CHARLOTTE, NC — What are you missing in your favorite neighborhood? WCCB Charlotte’s Alexandra Elich explores tucked away spots, historic businesses, and secret gardens in the middle of our bustling city.

On this week’s Hidden Gems of Charlotte, Alex visits Felix Empanadas.

Felix Godward proves when you have a passion and give it all you got anything can happen.

“I don’t think I’m special. I think I just didn’t give up. I think most people give up at some point,”  says Godward.

Four years ago, Godward wanted a changed. He stopped working in real estate marketing in LA to pursue his passion.

“So I spent my rent check, which would’ve been my rent check on a van and I moved into the van and I lived there for like eight months just working at different restaurants. Because I wanted to start making empanadas,” says Godward.

He says he read about Charlotte, saw it was a young city that was growing and knew it was where he needed to be. Godward bought a trailer and built it with a kitchen to start making Empanadas, but didn’t have a ton of experience in the kitchen,  learning from his Argentinian family recipes and his friends.

“They taught me some recipes and then YouTube was like probably a huge the thing for me. I learned through, I don’t think I would’ve been able to make it like I did without YouTube,” says Godward.

He would bring the trailer to events at Sycamore Brewing, Free Range Brewing and Birdsong where he built a following. Trying to fulfill his dream of  owning a restaurant.

“I had called Optimist Hall and they essentially told me no. They said we were just a little trailer. They saw my past and I don’t have years and years in the industry,” said Godward.

December 2019 he was serving in front of Birdsong Brewing. It was pure coincidence, he says the owners of Optimist Hall were there and tried his empanadas.

“Probably after New Year’s I got a call from Optimist Hall saying they were interested in having us and that they had tried our food at Birdsong,” says Godward.

Fast forward to March 2020, Felix Empanadas opened in the popular Optimist Hall in NoDa.

“Like I couldn’t believe it. It was just like such a big difference from where I was four years earlier. To have a restaurant in Charlotte is crazy,” said Godward.

His growing popularity understood once you have a taste. They’re homemade and hand folded every day.

“Depending on the shape is which one they are. So you got a legend that tells you which one is which according to the shape,” says Godward.

Godward is opening another location in Uptown. He’s planning to expand to different states next year.