Around Town

Power couples in Charlotte’s food and beverage industry

The American television and film industry runneth over with celebrity power couples. Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell. They’re all making waves in the same industry.

And while “US Weekly” isn’t necessarily jumping to write about it (yet), that same phenomenon is abloom in the Charlotte area, too. Most noticeably in the food and beverage industry.

Sarah and Justin Brigham’s love story with craft beer led them to open Sycamore Brewing in South End in 2014.

On the sweeter side, Andy and Robin Ciordia opened The Secret Chocolatier in Cotswold together in 2008 to sell decadent chocolates.

In the realm of fine dining, Jessica and Luca Annunziata brought their “romantic hideaway,” Passion8, from Fort Mill to Elizabeth in 2014.

Over in Cornelius, Tim Groody and Melanie McIntosh opened Fork! together in 2013 — and are getting married in April.

To top it off, there’s local chef Joe Kindred, who snagged a spot on the semifinalist list for Best Chef Southeast for this year’s James Beard Foundation awards. He owns Kindred in Davidson with his wife Katy.

So begins the list of power couples in the food and beverage industry in our area, whose offerings tempt us to try tastes beyond the chains, beyond the neighborhood go-tos, beyond our own kitchens.

Secrets to their success:

Joe and Katy Kindred, of Kindred

Roles: Katy, 34, is all things Front of House. Joe, 33, works his magic as the chef, Back of House.


Secret to working so well together?

Katy: “Kitchen is in the basement! Haha, kidding. We really respect each other’s roles and keep a sense of humor. We met each other working together so we have always known the other person’s strengths and weaknesses. We try to complement each other and not step on the other person’s toes, and never undermine the other’s authority … We communicate obsessively, non-stop.”

Favorite dish or snack to share after a long day?

Katy: “Ooooh. Pizza. For sure.”

Sara and Greg Zanitsch of The Fig Tree Restaurant

Roles: Sara, 41, is co-owner and general manager. Greg, 45, is the executive chef.

Fig Tree 119

Secret to working so well together?

Sara: “We share the same goals so it makes it much easier when you are always on the same page with your partner. We also never discuss work at home. Home is a time for our family with our three young children.”

Favorite snack to share after a long day?

Sara: “Tacos and Champagne! Anyone who has been to The Fig Tree Restaurant knows how much we like wine, and how much we enjoy pairing wine with food. Take our word for it, sometimes tacos and a bottle of Schramsberg Rose are the perfect pair.”

Casey Hickey and Mark Meissner of Petit Philippe

 Roles: Mark, 48, co-owns Petit Philippe and focuses on finances and operations. Casey, 48, co-owns Petit Philippe, handles the PR/marketing/creative side of the business and also manages her own Twenty Degrees chocolate brand.

Secret to working so well together?

Mark: “Each of us has a very different skill set and the trick for us is some separation of duties so that there’s not a lot of overlap or friction, so there’s more synergy-based work. …We divided our professional and family responsibilities so that we both have stronger relationships with each of the areas that we focus on. …But we both lean on each other.”

Favorite snack to share after a long day?

Mark: “We’re both big fans of bubbles so we obviously love Champagne. In springtime it’s Rose. …We certainly enjoy putting out some great artisan cheeses, both domestic and from France.”

Perfect pairings, indeed.

Who did I miss? Tweet @Charlotte_Five.

Photos: Katie Toussaint, Remy Thurston, The Fig Tree Restaurant, Petit Philippe