Food and Drink

Can’t keep up with all the restaurant changes? Here’s your CliffsNotes: October 2019

Courtesy of The Plaid Penguin
Courtesy of The Plaid Penguin

Charlotte’s restaurant scene is constantly changing, and if it seems like it’s happening faster than ever, you’re not alone. It can be hard to keep up with all the new places to try or remember which places have closed. Here’s a look at some Charlotte’s dining news from last month.

Restaurant openings

  • Papi Queso opened at Optimist Hall on Oct. 1. Fans of award-winning grilled cheese sandwiches no longer have to wait for food truck Papi Queso to post its weekly location schedule. The popular streatery opened its first physical location in a stall in Optimist Hall.

  • Cicchetti opened Oct. 1: Picture wandering the cobblestone streets of Venice in search of dinner. You wander from one baraco to another, eating bite-sized food served in places resembling small bars. With it you can enjoy a small amount of wine served in a glass the equivalent of a shot glass. Restaurateur Pierre Bader of Sonoma Restaurant Group has brought the concept to Uptown Charlotte. Cicchetti is now open at 100 N. Tryon St., in the space that once housed Badar’s restaurant, City Smoke.

Charlotte’s location of El Thrifty Social Club is the second; the first opened earlier this year along the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, South Carolina. ALEX CASON PHOTOGRAPHY
  • El Thrifty opened Oct. 3. Thus far, Optimist Hall’s food and drink tenants have been mostly food hall-style. Order what you’d like, find your spot at one of the community tables, and enjoy the atmosphere that comes with one person eating sushi next to another drinking a latte next to another writing on new stationary. When you show up to El Thrifty Social Club, you’ll find yourself in a slightly different piece of the Optimist Hall world. The food hall’s newest tenant, now open, is bringing scratch-made Mexican food, craft cocktails, DJs, dancing and an array of games.

  • Village Juice opened Oct. 5. Check out the Optimist Hall newbie’s cold-pressed juices, smoothie bowls, and healthy bites. Favorites include the Coffee Blender (almond, filtered water, cold brew coffee, date, cinnamon, vanilla bean, Himalayan salt) and Majik Milk (almonds, filtered water, date, blue majik, cinnamon, vanilla bean).

  • Reids Fine Foods opened its fourth location Oct. 10. The patio features French bistro seating and a retractable covering, so you can escape to Paris after work for a moment. There is also seating for 20 indoors at the wine bar.

  • Chicken Salad Chick opened Oct. 15. The Riverbend Village franchise owners Mike Hernandez and Don Carson opened their first Chicken Salad Chick restaurant in Concord in 2017. The brand has more than 130 restaurants in 16 states. It serves more than a dozen chicken salad flavors along with salads, sandwiches and desserts. Construction began on the Riverbend development, located off of Interstate 485 near Mountain Island Lake, in 2016, The Charlotte Observer reported at the time.

Courtesy of The Batch House
  • The Batch House had a soft opening Oct. 16. When Cristina Rojas-Agurcia was pursuing her master’s degree in clinical mental health, she was also baking on the side. In 2017, it became apparent she needed a website, so her marketing-minded husband, Pablo Agurcia, set up The Batchmaker. The Batch House, the brick and mortar concept of The Batchmaker, is now open in the space adjacent to Latin American Contemporary Art Projects. LaCa is a contemporary art gallery in the FreeMoreWest neighborhood.

  • Gyu Kaku opened Oct. 18. “Gesuto ga tōchaku shimashita!” That’s what you will hear when you enter the doors of Gyu Kaku, Uptown Charlotte’s newest authentic Japanese dining experience. Waiters and servers chant in unison to alert everyone in the restaurant that our guest has arrived. With over 700 locations around the world, this one-of-a-kind experience featuring yakiniku (grilled meat) is now in Charlotte — the first in North Carolina.

  • Lincoln Street Kitchen & Cocktails opened Oct. 18. Lincoln Street Kitchen & Cocktails (1320 S. Church St.) opens this Friday, October 18. The Lincoln Street menu features craft cocktails, shrubs and sodas alongside a selection of New American small plates. The main level has an antique-feel with features such as an oversized barn door, antique mirrors and custom wood furniture. In addition to the lounge on the main floor, the space also has a rooftop bar with a view of the uptown skyline and a live Ligustrum tree.

  • Taco Mama opened in Dilworth. Alabama based fast-casual restaurant Taco Mama features tacos, nachos and burritos that can be customized with 10 different protein choices, including slow cooked Barbacoa, AAA grade sushi Ahi Tuna and grilled and seasoned gulf shrimp. Prices range from $8-13 for entrees.

Making Moves

Trade and Lore NoDa sold to Salud owners. The team behind Salud Beer Shop and Salud Cerveceria has purchased the NoDa location of Trade and Lore, which shares space with Salud Cerveceria, CharlotteFive learned in an exclusive interview. Salud’s management will take over running the coffee shop and will introduce a new breakfast and pastry menu in the coming weeks. The Trade and Lore Belmont neighborhood location near Catawba Brewing Company and Advent Coworking will remain open.

What’s next?

Take a mental note of all of these restaurants and bars, which will open soon.

Bossy Beulah’s.jpeg
Bossy Beulah’s Chicken Shack is Jim Noble’s latest concept. Courtesy of The Plaid Penguin.
  • Bossy Beulah’s to open soon. Bossy Beulah’s Chicken Shack, Jim Noble’s latest concept, is named after his great aunt, Beulah. It will open at 2200 Freedom Drive next to Noble Smoke. Expect a simple menu of fried chicken sandwiches, sides and a couple of house beverage options.

  • Indaco to open soon. Charleston-based Italian restaurant Indaco is opening up a Charlotte location at Atherton Mill. Expect a menu filled with pasta, homemade sodas, cocktails and more.

  • Capishe to open SouthPark location in early November. Capishe will open its second location on Morrison Boulevard, inside a former Bojangles that includes a shared space with Wendy’s. Co-owner Bruce Willette told CharlotteFive that customers have been requesting a Capishe in SouthPark and Huntersville over other neighborhoods in the area. “There’s a big demand for what we offer, and there aren’t too many pizza places or a ton of fast-casual in the area,” he said. “A lot of new restaurants opening are higher dollar, and us being family friendly will be a welcome addition to the SouthPark area — it’s a good match.”

  • Kiki and Tattoo to open in November. The Charlotte culinary scene has been anxiously awaiting the opening of Kiki, a restaurant with an intimate liquor lounge next door, created by Soul Gastrolounge’s Andy and Lesa Kastanas. The wait is finally coming to an end. The Kastanas are planning for an October opening for the restaurant located in a former gallery space and liquor lounge, aptly named Tattoo, in a former tattoo studio on a popular corner in Plaza Midwood. Chef Jason Pound of Soul will oversee Kiki’s kitchen as well. He will serve Franco-Greco inspired small plates with a focus on fresh vegetables, changing them throughout the season.

  • Futo Buta opening an Asheville location in November. Futo Buta has a November target date for opening a new location in downtown Asheville at 121 Biltmore Ave., near the Orange Peel and Wicked Weed. Expect to see the same menu as the Charlotte location, but with more local beers.

  • Middle C Jazz opens Nov. 2. Imagine walking along the streets of uptown Charlotte, opening a door and being transported into the glamorous jazz era, with live music and cocktails. Charlotteans can anticipate this type of immersive experience and more this fall as jazz and music club, Middle C Jazz gears up to open uptown.

  • Ace No. 3 opens Nov. 5. The owners of Sea Level NC and The Waterman Fish Bar, Andrew Chapman and Paul Manley, are bringing their third restaurant concept, Ace No. 3, to the Belmont neighborhood. No. 3 will be a casual counter-style burger joint serving up burgers, shakes and a rotating selection of canned craft beers.

White Truffle Garlic Bread with house-made ricotta, mozzarella, grana podano and herbs ($12) at North Italia, which opens in November.. COURTESY OF NORTH ITALIA
  • North Italia opens Nov. 13. Handmade pasta, sauces made from scratch and signature cocktails featuring Italian liqueurs are heading to the RailYard, where North Italia is opening Nov. 13. The 7,500-square-foot restaurant joining the busy South End dining scene will include patio space along with a sizable dining room.

  • Bargarita to open in late fall: Since NoDa mainstay Solstice Tavern closed last November, Charlotteans have been walking past its boarded-up windows, anticipating the restaurant that would take its place along the popular strip of restaurants and bars along North Davidson Street. Now, the wait is almost over. Bargarita, the latest concept from the Mason Jar Group, will open in this location.

  • AC Hotel to open in SouthPark later this year. You’ll want to visit the eighth-floor bar, opening early next year. It will feature skyline views, indoor and outdoor seating for up to 100 people and a menu of craft beverages — look for locally inspired gin and tonic cocktails — and tapas-style small bites. AC Lounge, on the first floor, will offer a secondary space, serving small plates and drinks.

  • Deluxe to open by the holidays. Almost three months after Loft & Cellar shut its doors, building owner Bryant Cutter told us a new restaurant is coming to 305 West 4th Street. Cutter said the owners of Deluxe Catering plan to open a restaurant and bar in the three-story uptown building.

  • The Degenerate opening in 2020. Tater tot poutine. Banh mi for breakfast. Come 2020, this and more will be available at The Degenerate, a sports bar/gastropub set to open in Villa Heights. Located at 2116 N. Davidson St., it promises more internationally-inspired, yet homey fusions, as well as draft cocktails.

  • Saku to open in January 2020. An Asian restaurant is coming to a newly announced uptown Charlotte tower in January. The 1,330-square-foot restaurant, Saku, heading to 5th Street will be between Connolly’s On Fifth and Hearst Tower. The restaurant will be in the Binaco Tower at 123 E. 5th St., which broke ground in July. The five-story 13,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

  • Boga Mexicana to open in February 2020. Boga Mexicana, a Mexican restaurant taking over the space where The Packhouse used to be, is anticipated to open in February 2020. Vishnu Varthanan, the new owner of the space who is a restaurant operator in Germany, said Boga Mexicana will be an upscale Mexican restaurant that serves quality products. The space will be designed with handmade decorations and furniture imported from Mexico. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner, and it will have a full bar with fresh-pressed juices for cocktails.

Courtesy of 5Church
  • Tempest Charleston opens spring 2020. The team behind 5Church Charlotte, Sophia’s Lounge and 5Church Charleston is opening Tempest in Spring 2020. It will be next door to 5Church in Charleston. The restaurant will be located in the former historic Harriott Pinckney Home for Sailors.

  • Tupelo Honey expanding into six more locations, including uptown in winter 2020. Tupelo Honey can be found in 14 locations across seven states. And soon, the company will bring six more — with one coming to uptown Charlotte. The new restaurant will be located at the corner of Trade and Tryon streets in the Bank of America Plaza.

  • Sycamore Brewing to move next door in 2-3 years. “The building is visually stunning, the beer garden is set to be unrivaled, and our product offering even more diverse and exciting. We can’t wait to share the new space with Charlotte,” owner Sarah Taylor Brigham told CharlotteFive. The new space will feature a beer garden twice the size of the current one. It will include a 6,000-square-foot second story outdoor terrace overlooking the light rail, with views of uptown.

ICYMI: Spotlight on September

Dairy Queen on Central Avenue closed at the end of October. Alex Cason

Dairy Queen on Central Avenue closed at the end of October: For over half a century, the walk up window-style Dairy Queen at 1431 Central Ave. has been serving up dipped cones to the Charlotte community. Go now, because the space will close before the end of the month. “It’s disheartening,” said Sherman Walters, whose family has owned the Dairy Queen and the one on Wilkinson Boulevard since the ’70s.

Check out September’s other restaurant changes here.

Gem of the Queen City

As new restaurants open every day in Charlotte, it’s easy to forget about the old standbys, the places that have grown up alongside the Queen City. We think they’ll always be there for us, but so many favorites have closed along the way. This makes it even more important to support the ones we love. Our Gems of the Queen City series highlights the places that you have frequented for years, reminding us why they have stood the test of time.

Chef-owner Ashley Bivens Boyd of 300 East grew up in the restaurant, back when it was The White Horse. MICHAEL HRIZUK

Check out: 300 East. The restaurant sits in an old Victorian on East Boulevard that pastry chef Laney Jahkel-Parrish swears is haunted. To ensure a calm work environment, every morning around 6 a.m., as she arrives to perform her prep duties, Jahkel-Parrish gives a respectful hello to the friendly Dilworth neighborhood ghost. On this warm day in September, she walks down the stairs, gets her brownies in the oven ahead of schedule, looks at her prep list and dances.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer