It’s not unusual to find Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis uptown eating at Lola’s Restaurant, a spot known for its Southern-style staples like collard greens and macaroni and cheese. But on Wednesday, he was there with his wife Kelly filming a reality show that will also feature two of his teammates.
“Jack of All Tastes” is a six-episode reality series that shows NFL players dining in their favorite local restaurants. Along with Davis, the Charlotte episode will include linebacker Luke Kuechly at Cowbell uptown and center Ryan Kalil at Mortimer’s Pub in the Epicentre.
The Charlotte episode likely will be aired sometime this fall during football season, said Sarah Landon, vice president of production at Dolphin Digital Media. The show, a co-production between Dolphin and Accord Productions, hasn’t yet announced the network on which it will air.
The show is hosted by TV personality Jackie Long, a self-proclaimed “foodie” and wife of former Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Jake Long. Currently a free agent, Jake Long is friends with the Panthers’ Kalil, his wife said.
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Each episode is divided into two segments. In the first part, Jackie Long dines with players. In the second, she is in the kitchen learning how to make the dishes she just ate.
“People forget these are regular guys that love good food,” Long told the Observer. “I’m excited to show this side of the athletes.”
On Wednesday, the Davises and Long dined on barbecue pork chops, sweet potato pie, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and collard greens.
“It’s one of our favorite places to get soul food in Charlotte,” Davis’s wife Kelly said during the shoot.
Davis comes to Lola’s about once a month, whether it’s with his family or with teammates after practice, owner Bruce Stewart said. Davis also has served Thanksgiving Dinner there for years to women and children from the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope through his nonprofit, the Defending Dreams Foundation.
Charlotte was chosen for the show, Long said, because it’s a “food city” in the South with an obvious love of football.
Between shots at the restaurant Wednesday, the production crew raved about the Panthers’ 2015 season, gushed over Kuechly’s two interception returns for touchdowns in back-to-back playoff games and discussed their fantasy football teams.
Production of the series kicked off in late April in Nashville and will also include restaurants in Los Angeles, New York City, Miami and Atlanta.
Denver, whose team beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl, was not on the list.
Note: Because of ongoing construction, Lola’s will be closed starting Friday until it finds a new location, owner Bruce Stewart told the Observer.