UPDATED: Into the former print shop at Church and Bland streets will go – if all goes according to Futo Buta chef-owner Michael Shortino’s plans – a pizzeria with wood-burning oven, a la the famous Pizzeria Bianco of Phoenix; a gourmet market with barista, fresh coffees and baked goods; a takeaway counter for other breakfast and lunch fare, including sandwiches on bread made in that oven; an indoor/outdoor bar and a large deck and yard area, forming a sizeable biergarten/wine garden. And that’s just the part he’s leased.
Also going in, and likely to open sooner, is Seoul Food Meat Market from Timothy Chun. As Chun describes it: “Esthetically, it will look like American traditional Southern barbecue ribs: It will look the same but it will taste like Korean food.” So beef ribs will be seasoned as the Korean kalbi and bulgogi, pork ribs like the Korean spicy pork, slaw will be kimchi slaw, and wings will be fried, but in rice bran oil, making them healthier, and crunchier, than most, says Chun. More on that below.
Says Shortino: “Everything I’m missing from home, I’m building here.” He spent a quarter-century or so in the Phoenix area, and counts Chris Bianco a friend. Bianco is oft-cited as among the country’s best pizzas and Shortino is aiming at that level, with a limited menu (“individual pizzas, five different pizzas, two salads, that’s it”) offered just in the evenings.
During the day, he plans on people shopping from the market and ordering and picking up food at the counter, then sitting down in the dining area, fast-casual-style.
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He and investor Fred Stubblefield III hope for a January opening, and Shortino suspects they may open the market first, then continue building out the space. He plans to also continue his work at Futo Buta, where Tsuyoshi Ono, the executive sushi chef, is partner.
Chun, who’s Korean, born in Los Angeles and raised in Charlotte, says he expects construction on his restaurant to begin the end of this week or beginning of the next, and hopes to be open in about three months. He currently has a hot pot restaurant outside Washington, and considered doing that here, but decided he’d take a shot at “sneaking Korean food into the Charlotte market.” (We do have a few places, but none in the South End vicinity.)
Brooks Whiteside of Whiteside Industrial leased both, and notes the momentum of the area’s blossoming restaurant and brewery scene. Shortino’s original space is just down Bland, with Unknown Brewing Co. and Craft Tasting Room around the corner.