Mr. Glunt, tear down this wall.
The order was directed at Jason Glunt, who founded Salud Beer Shop in NoDa a little more than three years ago. It was just one of the many recent writings scribbled across a wall at the popular neighborhood bar.
It was an ill-fated wall, marked for destruction.
“We’ve had issues ever since we opened with space,” Glunt said. “It’s too tight in there and people can’t move around.”
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So when his neighbors decided not to renew their lease, Glunt jumped at the chance to take over the space. He tore down a portion of the wall separating the two spaces to open up another 1,000 square feet, which will house a new deli-style concept called FūD at Salud.
As popular a hangout as Salud is, hungry patrons often leave to grab dinner at nearby restaurants. FūD at Salud will give them a reason to stick around when it opens in the coming weeks. It will be spearheaded by Jeff McElwee, who previously worked at The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar (as did Glunt before opening Salud).
From a small kitchen, McElwee will serve up dishes like pretzels, cheese and charcuterie, sandwiches and “waffle-wiches,” which are exactly what they sound like: sweet and savory fillings sandwiched between fresh-baked Belgian waffles. Naturally, beer has found its way into many of the menu items, from mustards, pickles and jellies to a beer cheese made with Birdsong Brewing’s Jalapeño Pale Ale.
Each of Charlotte’s bottle shops has its own brand, even if it’s not something they consciously think about. For Salud, that brand is built on being a neighborhood hangout; a champion of beers wild, sour and funky; and a place where the brightly colored walls are as loud as the old-school hip-hop playing from the speakers.
You’ll find that same vibrant paint in Salud’s new section, too. Breaking up the neon green and orange walls is art from breweries like Dogfish Head Brewing, The Alchemist and North Carolina’s own Fonta Flora Brewery. And just to show it’s not all about beer, there’s also a poster of former Charlotte Hornet Rex Chapman (Glunt is a big fan of the team).
Above all of this is a shelf that holds empty bottles, many of them rare or from out of market. Below there’s a long communal table, as well as a few wire spools covered with tablecloths. Oak barrels support a plank of wood and serve as a makeshift table.
As Glunt tears down walls inside, walls are going up at a record pace outside. The NoDa neighborhood has changed drastically since Glunt opened his doors three years ago, with apartments now popping up all around and the light rail heading his way.
“The neighborhood’s going to change,” said Glunt. “It’s what happens, man. Every city in America. We need more businesses, but I hope that the businesses that come in are independent.”
Glunt is doing his part, creating a space that is a microcosm of the neighborhood itself. It’s eclectic, it’s fun – and it’s evolving. Though he wants to see NoDa remain its funky self, he also can’t deny that his shop stands to benefit from the neighborhood’s growth.
“As a business owner, I don’t hate seeing a four-story apartment building going up right beside me,” said Glunt.
Something tells me NoDa residents don’t hate seeing Salud expand, either.
Event of the Week: Moo and Brew Craft Beer and Burger Festival
WHEN: 2-6 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: NC Music Factory, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.
WHAT: If you’re interested in the burger portion of this inaugural festival, you’re out of luck: the burger tastings are included in the VIP tickets, which are sold out. General admission tickets are still available for $45 each, though, which gets you unlimited samples of beer. Local breweries are well represented, and a few national breweries will be on hand as well (including Stone Brewing Co., one of the festival’s sponsors). Tickets are available at www.mooandbrew.com, and also at the door if they do not sell out beforehand.