When QCity Metro last wrote about Clarence Boston, the Reidsville native had just bought the former Jinwright funeral home building on Statesville Road and was about to dive headlong into Charlotte’s competitive mortuary industry.
Now two years later, Boston’s Mortuary is doing just fine, he said in a recent interview, adding that the business has had more than 600 “pick ups” so far this year and ranks among the area’s largest funeral home companies.
His other mortuary business, the Cremation Society of Charlotte, recently moved its crematory from Carson Boulevard, near uptown, into the Statesville Road building and has had more than 400 “pick ups” this year of its own.
And that’s not all. When a South Carolina company that once supplied his burial vaults refused to give him a discount based on volume — Boston said he was sending mad business to the supplier — he bought four molds and launched the American Standard Vault Company, which he described as “extremely successful.” Now, instead of paying $720 to buy a concrete vault, he said, he makes his own for $110 each, and he is even selling some to other local funeral homes.
So what’s new?
With some extra time on his hands still, Boston recently bought a 1970s-era fire engine and is renovating the former crematory building, which sits in the shadow of Bank of America Stadium, and is planning to launch a new food-and-drink concept early next year.
320 Firehouse Bar & Food Truck, at 320 W Carson Blvd., would seat about 113 people in about 1,900 square feet of space. Boston said he was motivated to launch the business based on what he described as some unpleasant experiences at uptown bars.
“You know what I’m tired of, honestly? Going to places where your money ain’t appreciated,” he said. “And not many places here have minority ownership. So I’ll have my own place. I’ll eat there, drink there, socialize there.”
Boston, 39, said he wants his place to be welcoming to all races.
Once renovations are completed, the building will have a full-service bar but no kitchen. That’s where the food truck comes in.
Boston said he bought the truck several months ago from a man who wanted $40,000. Instead, he gave the seller his boat plus $10,000 and the deal was sealed.
“I hated to give it up, but I needed this truck,” Boston said of his beloved boat.
The truck has a wood-fire pizza oven and cookers. Boston said all food ordered at the bar will be cooked on the truck, which will be parked outside. As for the menu, he said he’s still working on it.
In addition to selling food at the bar, he said he also wants to send the truck out for catering, parties, homecoming events and, of course, the city’s popular Food Truck Friday.
Boston said he recently submitted his plans to the city and hopes to open by early February, maybe in time for the CIAA Basketball Tournament.
Between now and then, he said, he still has to get the truck painted and finish up renovations.
“If it goes good, I’d like to put a pool out there, too,” he said, “for summer and day parties…create good things.”
Boston also owns the Boston Investment Group, a company he launched about three years ago. Boston said the company buys houses, fixes them up and then resells them at a profit. So far, he said, most of the properties have been in the Wilmore and Plazza Midwood neighborhoods.
His advice to others: “There’s a ton of money in real estate.”
Editor’s Note: Catching Up With is a occasional feature that brings readers up to speed on people we’ve written about previously.