Mooresville downtown still strong, leader says

An 1880s building in downtown Mooresville has been completely refurbished inside for a restaurant set to open Tuesday called Epic Chop House.

The new venture by the team that set up the highly successful Mickey & Mooch restaurant in Huntersville 12 years ago signals downtown's ongoing strength, said Kim Atkins, executive director of the Mooresville Downtown Commission.

Downtown has created 165 jobs since January, Atkins told the Mooresville Board of Commissioners last week. It has attracted $3.5million in new investment in the past two to three years, not including Mitchell Community College's ongoing expansion, she said.

Since 2007-08, Atkins reported, downtown property values have increased by 7percent, or $2.7million. "Downtown is showing gains in the worst economic times," Atkins said.

"What you have accomplished is remarkable," Mooresville town commissioner Chris Carney told Atkins. "You certainly have done a spectacular job, and your board, because three years ago we were not in this position."

When the owners of the fine-dining restaurant Soirée decided in August not to renew their lease on the historic W.W. Rankin building at 104 S. Main St., building owner Bob Amon said another restaurant was ready to step in.

Enter Epic Chop House, whose team includes Jim Morasso and Larry Sponaugle, who helped open Mickey & Mooch; and Rick Mack, owner of RDM Architecture and green designer-builder Synergy One, both of Davidson.

They brought aboard Jon Spencer as executive chef. Spencer was one of the three executive chef-owners who opened Soirée in January 2006, helping to revitalize downtown Mooresville.

On the first floor, the Epic Chop House team has refurbished the hardwood floors, exposed the interior brick and eliminated a mezzanine to give the place a more open-air feel. Large-framed paintings and photographs with Southern working themes will adorn the walls.

A giant booth - basically four booths in one - will be in the center of the dining area. The restaurant will have 108 seats in all and a copper-bar area. Two palm trees will accent the dining room.

The second floor will open later with space for meetings and more general dining space.

An outdoor patio will host acoustic music and other events.

Epic Chop House will be open 4 p.m. daily. Its menu features Chicago chop house-style and Southern offerings and will be moderately priced, Spencer said. Expect large portions, Spencer, Sponaugle and Morasso agreed.

"It's epic food, epic service, epic atmosphere," said Morasso, the restaurant's general manager.

Reservations aren't necessary but are accepted. The restaurant's phone number is 704-230-1720.