First off, did you know Gateway Village has been around since at least the year 2000? That’s when construction on the development’s second building was underway, according to the Charlotte Observer archives. The Village itself was designed by co-developers Bank of America and Cousins Properties to cover five blocks of West Trade Street.
And even though it’s barely under a mile from the EpiCentre on East Trade Street, Gateway Village feels like a little city of its own.
The blocks of development blend offices like Bank of America and Cousins Properties Incorporated with elements of Johnson & Wales University’s campus like the student library and the Academic and Financial Services office. They also carry dining staples like Subway, Chick-fil-A and Starbucks. And while it’s not the most bustling part of town, Gateway Village has its gems.
(1) Mist Fountain
This public work of art by Ritsuko Taho is right by the Gateway Village YMCA in the Gateway Gardens. It’s made of black granite and limestone. And it’s hypnotic.
The Gardens and courtyard contribute a peaceful, revitalized aesthetic. According to another article in the Observer archives, written by Doug Smith in 2011, “If you had arrived at The Square uptown a quarter-century ago and traveled west on Trade Street, you’d have seen a dilapidated corridor.”
(2) Johnson & Wales University Bookstore
Unlike the campus library, the bookstore (800 W Trade St. #150) is open to the general public. Pop inside if you’re on the hunt for snacks, school T-shirts, disturbingly sharp knives for your kitchen, local interest cookbooks, bestsellers like “Bossypants” by Tina Fey, or a pig ice-cream spoon. Only $1.99.
(3) Spoon’s BBQ Truck
I found Spoon’s parked on West Trade Street outside the bookstore, and was told they make a stop here every other Wednesday. While not a permanent fixture, the truck added a welcoming touch.
(4) The Goat Wagon Grocery
Owner John Whitley has held down the fort here for 13 years, through the recession, through other financial struggles (like the opening of the 7-Eleven around the corner, which he said cut his business by more than half).
But the place has pep to it. Whitley wanted the independent Goat Wagon (120 N. Cedar St.) to be the type of spot where all the customers were known by name, where regulars were neighbors and friends. And while that’s not exactly what he got, he’s proud of his wine and craft beer selection. In the cooler you can find brands like Sweetwater, OMB and Dogfish Head. Wines range from Andean Sky, to Entwine to Gnarly Head.
On top of the beer cooler sits an old goat wagon Whitley restored with his father.
(5) The Pub at Gateway
This pub has been a fixture for eight years and is the busiest on Tuesdays, I hear. That’s when trivia gets rolling.
Kitchen manager Ron Jackson added that TV screens inside (there are at least five) bring in crowds for sports-watching, and Saturdays attract poker enthusiasts (there are generally games going on at 2 and 4 p.m.). Black-and-white photos line the walls, showing off people who have been coming in for years. And Cam Newton — his photo is over by the bar.
Jackson said Newton came in for dinner right before he was drafted.
No matter where you go in Gateway Village, just venture out of the primary uptown bubble. See what’s here.
But when you do visit, note that the Welcome Center is not for the aimless wanderer. It’s for people with appointments in private offices.
I learned the awkward way.
Photos: Katie Toussaint