What's In Store

New Italian restaurant opens its first Charlotte location in South End next Month

Interior of Fidelli
Interior of Fidelli Courtesy of Scott Richards

An Italian restaurant called Fidelli Kitchen is set to open its first Charlotte location mid-November in South End, and owner Scott Richards said it will have an unconventional approach to employee career training that will enhance customer service.

Fidelli is at 1616 Center, the mixed-use building next to Price’s Chicken Coop. The 2,500 square-foot restaurant will include counter service, a living room and dining room. Richard said there will also be a 1,000 square-foot wine and beer store attached.

Fidelli’s menu includes Italian fare such as paninis, pasta, pastries, fresh soups and a variety of tapas-style small plates. You can dine, Richards said, for around $10.

Richards said he’s planning a “career accelerator program” aimed at “highly motivated workers” whose ultimate career goal is not necessarily working in a restaurant.

Fidelli’s program coordinates with an outside consulting firm that will help workers map their employment path through steps such as building a resume, getting Fortune 500-level HR training and being paired up with a mentor in their chosen field, Richards said.

He expects the average employment tenure will be 18 months, similar to the industry average. The restaurant jobs will “pay well” – so there will be no tipping.

Richards cites the “conscious capitalism” concept used by Whole Foods as his inspiration, which refers to a for-profit business having a “higher purpose.”

“You open the restaurant, you have a revolving door of people coming in and you do the best you can to hang on to them, but for the most part, especially in the counter service world, they’re trying to do something else. The restaurant is a stepping stone for whatever else they’re working toward,” Richards said.

“Our turnover will be about the same as the industry but we expect to get people who are highly motivated and understand if we help them, they’ll help us,” he said.

Fidelli will open in Dublin and Vancouver later in 2017, Fidelli said. He also is negotiating two other Charlotte locations, both set to open in 2017.

“Charlotte makes an excellent test city. I think the diversity of people and of restaurants that are here, as well as the culture, is probably the main reason,” he said. “There’s an energy and open-mindedness that attracted me.”

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta