This spring is shaping up to be the biggest new-restaurant season Charlotte has ever seen. With so many places almost open, barely open or delayed (will Superica ever open?), we checked in with eight projects we’re most excited about.
Remember: All dates are estimates. Between inspections, equipment installation and hiring, a lot of things are out of a restaurant owner’s control.
1. Haymaker: “Soft” opening around March 19, fully open March 24 or 26. The uptown outpost by Asheville chef/owner William Dissen (The Market Place) is almost close enough to taste: You can see the menu at the website. Expect a blend of Dissen’s deep dives into Appalachian ingredients with Piedmont influences from around here. We’ve gotten several walks through Dissen’s project in the Ascent Uptown, facing on Romare Bearden Park: Open kitchen, sidewalk seating outside, booths and tables inside and a soaring upper mezzanine that can be a private event space. Haymaker will have a grab-and-go breakfast on weekdays (pastries by Ashley Anna Tuttle, formerly of Amelie’s, egg sandwiches and coffee from an Italian espresso machine), weekend brunch and dinner. Menu prices: $10 to $16 for brunch; $5 to $6 for small plates at dinner, $20 to $30 for entrees, $8 for desserts.
2. The Stanley: Probably early April. Paul Verica’s new restaurant in Elizabeth isn’t likely to open until April. Extensive renovations to the building, at 7th Street, Caswell Road and Pecan Avenue, are underway, and a website (menu, please) is expected soon.
3. Bang Bang Bites: In the next few days. Joseph Huang’s South End followup to his popular Bang Bang Burgers in Elizabeth is in previews right now, next door to the already-popular Zeppelin at 235 W. Tremont St. Huang tentatively hopes to fully open this week, although he cautions “something always seems to come up that changes things.” The menu focuses on “burger flights,” with sliders in a variety of styles. Prices: $6 to $15.
4. Comida/littleSpoon: Around March 12. Alesha Stegemeyer says she’s “super close” on her project, rebuilding littleSpoon, 2820 Selwyn Ave., to accomodate both her brunch restaurant and her elevated-Mexican restaurant, Comida, moved from its original location in Plaza-Midwood. Expect both familiar and new twists on both menus: Stegemeyer has taken staff members to Los Angeles for brunch inspiration, to New York (especially to Enrique Olvera and Danielle Soto-Innes’ Cosme and the simpler Atla) for Mexican, and to D.C. for cocktail explorations. Comida’s hours will be Monday-Saturday nights, littleSpoon’s will be Tuesday-Sunday for breakfast and lunch.
5. YUME Bistro: Probably April. Tony Yum and Rosena Tong have been held up by a pipeline issue in moving their popular Japanese-influenced cafe from Matthews into much bigger Gold District digs at 1508 S. Mint St. (100 to 110 seats, up from 30 in the original). But Yum expects to be finished with construction by the end of March. The new spot will keep a lot from the original menu, but also add a lot more Japanese entrees, sushi, yakitori-style skewers and house-made desserts.
6. Let’s Meat: Mid-March. The extension of Seoul Food, at 1400 S. Church St. in the slowly developing Gold District (the area between Bank of America stadium and South End), will be Korean-style barbecue. Meaning: cooked at your table, a style that’s very hot in New York right now, ranging from fancy (Cote Korean Steakhouse, on the semifinalist list for the James Beard Awards) to young and frantic (like the high-energy Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong).
7. Holler & Dash: March 13. The Tennessee-based big-biscuit chain started by the company behind Cracker Barrel has set a grand opening for its first Charlotte location, in the Sedgefield shopping center, 2725 South Blvd. Menus and prices vary by location, but expect breakfast, brunch and lunch daily with a menu focused on meal-size biscuits and a few other things, in the $5 to $12 range.
8. Superica: Sorry, not until late spring. Atlanta restaurant king Ford Fry’s long-awaited splashy Tex-Mex restaurant in the Design Center in South End is still several months off, according to Fry’s spokesperson.