10 Epicentre bars that desperately need change

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Love it or hate it, EVERYONE has an opinion on the Epicentre.

You can’t deny that it’s forever changed the nightlife scene in Uptown Charlotte since it first opened almost 10 years ago.

Ever since Alive After Five moved from the Wachovia/Wells Fargo Plaza to Epicentre’s rooftop, the three-tiered restaurant and club destination always brings out emotional responses amongst friends.

For those looking for more out of their uptown experience, here are the changes I would make to help elevate these 10 Epicentre bars.

Bubble: Open up the space. No more cramped spaces.

If you’re trying to show off how many champagne bottles you are buying, then Bubble is the perfect spot for you! If you’re looking to dance, then have fun being trampled in front of the DJ booth!

An easy fix would be to move the massive four circular VIP spots to the corners of the dance floor so you’ll have more room to dance. Maybe it’s also time to update the creepy, nightmare-inducing Barbie doll photos lined up to the bathroom.

PMI networking event on Monday night. #work #networking #clt #epicentrenc

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Howl at the Moon: Be less generic.

I still can’t believe that Howl at the Moon has stayed in business for so long, but someone has to give tourists and bachelorette parties that shtick piano playing they love so much.

However, it does not need a premiere location. This bar can be moved to any open spot in the Epicentre because you can enjoy those fishbowls and “Sweet Caroline” sing-a-longs anywhere.

Suite Charlotte: Expand, expand, expand.

With Howl at the Moon moved to another location, Suite can just take over the entire top East Trade Street side of the Epicentre. Suite has had one of the best club locations over the years, but you could expand the area to allow more patio room with great views of the city, another dance floor offering a different genre of music, or a higher rooftop spot to relax with chill music.

Rooftop 210: No more plastic!

Over the past year, the other rooftop spot at Epicentre has seen some great renovations, including refurbishing the concrete unfinished bar and installing TV projector screens to watch the night’s best sports game. Its outdoor concerts, featuring the likes of Brett Eldredge and Little Big Town, have been a great change of pace.

I’d only say that Rooftop 210, or any bar as a matter of fact, should NEVER use those tiny plastic cups for mixed drinks! I don’t want to pay $7 for a beverage that is filled to the brim with ice and two sips of vodka tonic.

We had such a great time with @bretteldredge tonight! Thanks to everyone that came out

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Kandy Bar: Make it less hard to vibe to the music.

The DJ booth seems out of place in the huge room. If they moved it to the center or back of the main dance floor, then you would feel more connected to the music. But, I wasn’t complaining when I could shake hands with Snoop Dogg during his celebrity DJ night! I’m still confused about the solo bathroom stalls in the back of the bar – don’t fall for the trap of waiting in that line!

Overall, a good mix for a VIP and dance night, but are you all bringing back Tito’s to the liquor lineup? Asking for a friend…

BlackFinn Ameripub: Each floor should have its own feel.

BlackFinn was the first bar to set up shop at the Epicentre, and now there is even a second, more upscale location in the Ballantyne area. The upstairs Irish bar is impressive, but it does take up a ton of room when you want to dance to the tunes of 10 years ago coming from the DJ booth.

I’d say move the dance floor downstairs, similar to the Ballantyne location, and keep the Irish pub look upstairs with more of a low-key setting similar to Connolly’s On Fifth, so you can enjoy a Guinness and sports game in peace.

VAULT/Studio Movie Grill: Throw it back every now and then.

Both of these spots have made improvements to what once was Mez and Kazba. Studio Movie Grill gives you a blend of great food and drinks (the Blackened Chicken Pasta is so good), while watching the latest movie release, and VAULT has the hottest hip-hop music and hookahs.

These two should work together on making a Throwback Movie Night where they play a classic film, let’s say “Scarface”, on one of the movie theater screens, and then you have after parties at both spots with everyone dressed up in mobster outfits.

Whisky River: Figure out your identity.

Whisky River…what are you exactly? You’re trying to be a nightclub charging $5 to get in, but you have a mix of a NASCAR bar, half partitioned dance floor, and a riding bull in the back.

I say you either go for a full NASCAR Southern restaurant or bring the Coyote Joe’s-feel to the Epicentre, and make it a country bar offering line-dancing, live country music performances, and keep that bucking bull for the Jell-O shot takers to give it a whirl.

Strike City: Buck the Buckeyes!

With Libretto’s serving their food and bowling lanes a-plenty, Strike City has always been a good divergent from the typical bar of the Epicentre. Strike City should keep doing bowling lanes and shoe specials, such as the Monday “All You Can Bowl” nights, but end its ties as the Ohio State bar. Everyone is tired of seeing blacked-out Buckeye fans roaming the Epicentre plaza after a football game. O-H-I-NO!

Mortimer’s: Buy in to the block party.

Mortimer’s is the perfect spot for people who want to watch live cover band music, eat some great paninis, and avoid the drunk younger crowd. See if there is a way to bring one of the bands outside and turn that alleyway into a block party atmosphere.

Also, see about creating more bathroom stalls, unless you know about the secret one in the back of the bar!

What changes would you make to the Epicentre? Let us know in the comment section below!

Photos: Bubble, Rooftop 210, Blackfinn Ameripub, Whiskey River, Mortimer’s

27 COMMENTS

    • Some of us were trained somewhere earlier own to cultivate a critical eye and no one but no one expects anyone to live and die by healthy reflection. It’s not set in stone and if ignored won’t come back to bite anyone. Get over helpful advice which is not intended to cripple or mame. Minorities are particularly vulnerable to this hypersensitivity.

  1. Since most people who go to these places aren’t old enough to know: If you really expect any change to these bars, you will need to overthrow the current owners – Bob Durkin and the infamous ‘Bar Management Group’. Yes, the now 20+ year old facade for one of the most notorious cover ups ever to hit the nightlife scene. Known for doing the exact thing here, the intent is to have a bar monopoly, but to fool people who flock there nightly into believing they are all unconnected. Opening each bar and restaurant under a differently named LLC or other venture, yet reaping the profit from them all. Using these alternate LLC names to open new places was necessary to avoid the damning reputation and tragic legacy of lawsuits they have left in every city they have ever operated in. Just ask the city council in Norfolk Virginia about them, or the Waterside Mall there, where they attempted to do a similar “Epicenter” project. The city and police eventually chained all the doors and Bar Management Group was run out, with lawsuits filed.

    Most all of the millennials and college students who love these bars at the ‘Epicenter’ are too young to remember this group’s original business back in the 90s: Bar Charlotte. If you knew what that place was, then you would understand and see that each one of these bars at the Epicenter are very much like Bar Charlotte was all those years ago. That’s all the owners know, and all they want it to be, just nicer and with a better facade. The Epicenter is a perfect way to facilitate that for them. They have gone from city to city and state to state opening places just like the bars in the Epicenter. Cashing in on a re-envisioned Bar Charlotte idea….but with varying themes, just to keep everyone fooled. Wash, repeat…..until they’ve run it into the ground and drained the life from it. Then, time to recycle and open a new place, but under a new name and LLC, even though it’s still the same people doing the same thing over and over again. Money gets laundered, taxes get evaded, developers are paid under the table, and they move on to the next.

    So, hopefully this sheds some light on what is actually going on in the background, and why things you point out should be so obvious to fix or change, probably never will because this is all part of a master plan…..and exactly the way they want it until it’s over, and time for another.

  2. Of course it can be someone’s job. It’s an uptown draw for locals and tourists alike – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with constructive criticism meant to increase foot traffic ie increase business and variety.

    As for the ‘journalism’ charge, not everyone is covering wars and providing stock quotes. The headline is obviously an indicator that the piece contains opinion, suggestion and other subjective material. The current trend among trolls is obviously to deny the honorific of ‘journalism’ to anything that challenges their assumptions, views or – gasp – places demands on their attention span.

    The writer has done his homework AND his legwork and has obviously spent many hours at the property in question given his detailed knowledge of the venues and customer base. Instead of demanding he flee to a cave and stop using the internet forever, why not discuss the article in question and offer your own opinions, assuming you have any based on experience?

    • The original Scarface was about mobsters (Al Capone). In the credits for the 1983 version which I believe you are referring to, there is an homage to Howard Hawks who directed the 1932 original. It’s a pretty good film too.

      • It’s about the drug cartel, not a mob family like in Goodfellas or The Godfather. But really, who gives a damn? I wouldn’t go to any of these bars if you paid me.

  3. What changes would I make? Tear the whole thing down is one. A perfect example of a “plastic” and “contrived” bar district without any real feel or authenticity to it. Compare this place to real bar districts in NY, LA, CHI, BOS, Savannah, Tampa (Ybor City) and the feel of this whole place is about as real as silicone breasts. Upon entering you can immediately catch the aroma of spilled stale alcohol and vomit. This whole complex is CLT’s attempt to shout out to other cities “me too; I got a bar district.” Trouble is that it was really a half-hearted cookie cutter, developer profit minded complex that sacrificed the thrill and excitement of exploring a real bar district and experiencing the “quirkiness” of each establishment.

  4. That is one of the most simpleminded attempts at – dare I say journalism? or social media blog? Awful and I can’t get that time of reading back. At least now I know to stay away from C5 (C5 — oooooh so cool)

  5. Strike City isn’t going to drop OSU – because the owner is an OSU alum and, from what I believe, a former player. So good luck with that. But I don’t disagree with the sentiment. As far as the rest of it goes. Well as a native Charlottean who is not that old (but not a millennial) I remember when uptown was dead. So its nice to see everything going on. Just don’t expect too much.

    • The owner is not one person, it’s a group of New York based transplants who have been ripping off the nightlife here and in other cities for decades. They also own all the other bars in the Epicenter, but you’re not supposed to figure that out. Someone posted above more on these people, and it’s all true.

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