Pasta & Provisions owner Tommy George is breathing new life into a previously sleepy corner in the heart of Wilmore, an up-and-coming neighborhood next to South End.
The popular gourmet Italian food and grocery store at 1600 S. Mint is now open, although it won't start selling beer and wine until late next week after it gets its alcoholic beverage license from the state, George told the Observer. The store's bar will have craft beers on tap, as well as glasses of wine for sale.
Also next week, the kitchen will start serving hot meals, including sandwiches, pizza and pastas.
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For now, the new Wilmore store is stocked full of the staples typical of other Pasta & Provisions locations: gourmet imported cheese; freshly made pastas; frozen lasagnas, gnocchi and other meals; and marinara, pesto and other pasta sauces made in-house.
George said he plans to host a grand opening celebration at the store next weekend.
This is Pasta & Provisions' third store, and it's the first store property that George owns instead of rents. Pasta & Provisions, which first opened on Providence Road 25 years ago, opened a second store on Park Road in the spot that once housed Mike’s Discount Beverages early last year. The Wilmore kitchen, George said, will handle most of the food production for the other two stores.
The kitchen was part of a separate, long-empty teardrop-shaped building at the corner of Spruce and Mint streets that George bought separately and added to the store, which is in a historic space previously occupied by the Red Sea grocery store.
Thanks to help from George's brother, a part-owner of Heartwood Tree Service, the original wooden ceiling beams in the building were taken down and milled into flooring, a move George said creates a more open feel while maintaining the historic feel of the place. The big wooden bar top tables are made with the same wood.
The Wilmore store, George said, will have indoor and outdoor seating like the Park Road location does, as well as an expanded grocery selection with staples like organic eggs and produce.
George has said the reception by the neighborhood has been positive so far. For his part, George is doing what he can to maintain the historic feel of the building. On one side of it is a giant mural of a Panther and the word "Charlotte" in graffiti, artwork that George has preserved at the request of the neighborhood.