Charlotte fans of both barbecue and brewing got exciting news Thursday.
First, the long-awaited announcement from local Charlotte food legend Jim Noble came through: Noble, owner of King’s Kitchen and Rooster’s, has finally signed a lease for a location for a new barbecue restaurant, Noble Smoke.
Second, Colin Ricks, co-owner of Hyde Brewing, the new craft brewing facility in South End, told the Observer that Hyde is in negotiations to join with Noble there, with plans to add both an entertaining space and a new sour beer program.
Ricks confirmed that he is working with Noble, but said a final agreement hasn’t been signed. He expects to finalize the deal soon.
The new location for both is a big lot at 2216 Freedom Drive, near the Goodwill Industries campus. Joe Haubenhofer of The Plaid Penguin, who is working with both Noble and Ricks, pointed out that the space is close to uptown and has plenty of space for parking.
“(Noble) has been talking about this forever and he’s got what we think is the perfect shell,” Haubenhofer said.
The Noble Smoke project is expected to open next summer. While plans are still in the works, Haubenhofer says it will be extensive, with a 400-seat outside area, a 200-seat restaurant area inside and a deli counter at the front with sandwiches and take-away food. Noble will have four to five Texas-style smokers, multiple pits and a wood-fired oven.
One of the more unusual touches will be the Legends Counter with 10 special chairs: After his travels around the country studying barbecue and regional food styles, Noble is picking 10 names important to the development of craft food and barbecue. Those names will go on the chairs. (They haven’t been announced, but Haubenhofer gave the example of Wayne “Honey” Monk of Lexington Barbecue in Lexington.)
If one of those legends comes to the restaurant and you’re sitting in his or her chair, you’ll be asked to move – but you’ll get your dinner for free.
“He really wants to pay homage and respect to the people who came before him,” Haubenhofer said.
Noble, who has played a big role in Charlotte’s food scene, has long been passionate about making barbecue. While looking for a location for a barbecue restaurant, he added a barbecue catering arm, Mobile Smoke, to his King’s Kitchen and Rooster’s operations. Haubenhofer said the menu for the catering operation will be a good representation of what Noble plans to offer in the restaurant, including his 16-hour brisket and large beef ribs. The restaurant also will include wines and Southern-inspired side dishes similar to the ones served at Rooster.
Meanwhile, Noble is continuing work on an expansion and remodeling project at the SouthPark location of Rooster that includes a new bakery and specialty market he’s calling Copain. While that space is not yet complete, it also launched a limited-time holiday menu Thursday, with European-style baked goods by executive pastry chef Maris Pedersen.