It’s true. The mind behind 204 North Kitchen & Cocktails and Tilt on Trade uptown is planning to open two new concepts in the next two years.
Anthony Kearey, who owns the bar Tilt and the bar/restaurant 204 North, isn’t ready to say much. Kearey did share that he is “far along in the works for a third location” that’s set to open later this year. But he won’t share which neighborhood—yet.
And a fourth concept from Kearey is due to open in South End in 2018. Negotiations for a place are already underway there.
It might come as a bit of a surprise, since Tilt, which Kearey lovingly calls “a madhouse,” is celebrating 10 years of existence this year, while 204 North has only been open since May 2016. Why two new places suddenly?
Kearey is ready to follow the city’s growth into South End, and into the other neighborhood (another fast-growing local destination). As he puts it, you go where the people are.
Plus, he has already faced the challenges that come with opening a place in the current development climate. When opening 204 North uptown this past year, the opening was delayed by at least six months while he painstakingly worked through city inefficiencies to get more water running into the place. He struggled with the city water department, and dug up the sidewalk outside multiple times.
“We’re in the middle of a massive city where we couldn’t get water,” Kearey said.
It was a headache. “But it’s just part of the growing pains of the city and hopefully the city gets it right,” he said.
As for growing his two new concepts, Kearey said, “They are going to be completely different. Because we don’t want to cannibalize our own market… We’ve identified great things in each neighborhood that are lacking that we think would be a positive addition to the neighborhood. Because we want to be a part of the neighborhood.”
You can already see how different the first two concepts are.
Tilt is the kind of place that isn’t meant to be stuck up. “I mean, we have CEOs and COOs drinking $20-$30 shots of whiskey at 4-7 p.m. when at 10 to midnight it’s just a madhouse, people having fun … you’re not going to be judged,” he said.
Meanwhile, 204 North is a bit more refined, but also has the kind of casual atmosphere where someone in a T-shirt could be sitting at a table next to someone in a sport coat. There’s a do-the-right-thing undertone here, too, as the establishment has a cocktail called The Amazing Grace that supports The Amazing Grace Foundation, and a happy hour the second Thursday of every month that supports another charity, The Sandbox.
“To me there was plenty of fine dining, five-star places in the city, and plenty of sports bars in the city, but there was no just great, quintessential middle-of-the-road (place),” Kearey said when setting the tone for 204 North, which is housed in a space that is nearly 100 years old.
Hence the minimalist walls, with little flair other than old Charlotte maps and some sketches depicting the process of brewing beer. 204 North also shows Kearey’s love for older buildings with soul, unlike the “clinical space” of a brand-new building. You automatically get some warmth and charm when moving into older buildings, he pointed out.
Kearey credits director of operations Rachel Kamen for keeping Tilt and 204 North running smoothly and efficiently.
And he has promised one thing about the two new concepts coming to town: “We are going to fix up old buildings again. Because Charlotte is quick to knock down its history.”
Regardless, Kearey, who is South African, has called Charlotte home for 17 years and has no plans to leave the area.
“It’s a melting pot of great people,” he said. “… I want to be here and I want to see it grow and I want to see it do better.”
Photos: Katie Toussaint