Two big names on Charlotte’s restaurant scene announced Friday that they’re pairing up: Frank Scibelli, the business brains behind a whole team of successful restaurants, has become a shareholder in Clark Barlowe’s all-local Heirloom restaurant.
Barlowe said Scibelli has bought a minority share in his restaurant, and is the only shareholder he expects to add.
“He brings areas of expertise I’m stilling learning,” Barlowe told The Observer late Friday afternoon.
The two have a history: Barlowe worked at Mama Ricotta’s, Scibelli’s Italian restaurant on Kings Drive, when he was still a culinary student, and the two have stayed in touch. At a dinner in May when Scibelli got an honorary doctorate from Johnson & Wales University, they started talking about changes Barlowe could make to better fit in with Heirloom’s setting in northwest Charlotte.
That includes adding more a la carte items to the menu instead of just a fixed-price tasting menu. And yes, it includes adding a few things that are more affordable. Barlowe plans to add a Carolina-style burger and fried chicken in the $16 range, as well as a few wines that aren’t from North Carolina. Barlowe said the wine list would still be 60 percent N.C.-produced wines. (“The burger was my idea,” Barlowe joked when asked if Scibelli, the creator of Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, had encouraged that.)
“We have a rapport,” Scibelli said. “He’s a really good talent and a really good chef.”
Both Barlowe and Scibelli emphasized that Heirloom will continue to focus on an entirely N.C. menu, including the ingredients as well as all local beer and N.C. liquors in the cocktails.
Barlowe plans to roll out the new menu on Nov. 18.
With his roster of restaurants all around Charlotte, including Mama Ricotta’s, Paco’s Tacos, the popular new Middle Eastern restaurant Yafo, plus multiple locations of Midwood Smokehouse, Scibelli is known for his business acumen. After founding the Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar chain, Scibelli and his partners sold it to Colorado-based Good Times Restaurants last year for $21 million.