I'll Bite

New life for Dilworth Billiards: A wine bar

Dilworth Billiards on Tremont Avenue will become Dilworth Tasting Room this fall.
Dilworth Billiards on Tremont Avenue will become Dilworth Tasting Room this fall. mhames@charlotteobserver.com

After closing last year, the Dilworth Billiards building, 300 E. Tremont Ave., has been looking for a new tenant. Its new fate was announced this morning: A European-influenced wine bar called the Dilworth Tasting Room.

Sommelier Jaffer Kovic, a former wine director for Del Frisco’s in Houston and a restaurant consultant in New York, plans to open in late October. The new space will feature wines by the glass and local beers, wine and food pairings, wine dinners and a small retail space for beer and wine.

A first-generation Croatian, Kovic says the interior will have an Old World feel, with copper and mahogany, and extensive outdoor seating in the garden. (If you know the space, don’t worry – he’s keeping the koi pond).

“We are creating a space that will be elegant, welcoming, warm and one that will quickly become a vital part of the Charlotte community,” Kovic said.

For the menu, Kovic is bringing in a visiting chef, Croatian-born Ivana Bekavac. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who has been working in the Adriatic and Mediterranean, Bekavac plans a menu with influences of both. Kovic expects a lot of seafood, including octopus carpaccio and prawns, as well as panini and bruschettas.

Kovic also plans to offer Stumptown Coffee and pastries in the morning for people who want breakfast to go.

Dilworth Billiards, located in an old dry goods store on the edge of Dilworth, was a private club for years. Owned by Eric Sprouse, it had weekly billiards tournaments and a dedicated community of regulars, drawn to the classic style of Sprouse’s pool tables and chairs and the relaxed atmosphere. Sprouse, who lives on site, decided to retire and close the club in late 2015.

Originally, Sprouse planned to lease the space to two women who planned to run a gourmet wine and cheese shop called Cured, but those plans fell through.

Kathleen Purvis: 704-358-5236, @kathleenpurvis