Can’t keep up with all the restaurant changes? Here’s your CliffsNotes: September 2019

Photo by Alex Cason
Dairy Queen on Central Avenue is closing near the end of the month.

Charlotte’s restaurant scene is constantly changing, and if it seems like it’s happening faster than ever, you’re not alone. It can be hard to keep up with all the new places to try or remember which places have closed. Here’s a look at some Charlotte’s dining news from last month.

Restaurant openings

Photo by Kathleen Purvis
Eight + Sand Kitchen
  • Eight+Sand Kitchen opened Sept. 4: Go see for yourself what pizza maker Grant Arons of Inizio and coffee king James Yoder of Not Just Coffee have cooked up for South End.  Eight + Sand Kitchen, conveniently located right next to the New Bern light-rail station, opened as a breakfast/bakery/coffee/lunch/cocktail project. Breads and pastries come from Arons, while the full coffee bar and Italian-ish cocktails come from Yoder.
  • JackBeagle’s opened in Mount Holly Sept. 6: After patiently waiting for two years, Mount Holly has a reason to celebrate, Beagle style. Located next to The Salon & Spa on Main and near Derr’s Boutique, The Vintage Nest and the old city jail, JackBeagle’s fits right into Mount Holly’s downtown landscape. The restaurants are named after a dog that owner Chris Ingram rescued in the early 2000s.
  • Southern Strain Brewing Co. opened Sept. 7: Ford Craven is used to giving people reasons to move to Concord. Now, he’s given them another one. Craven, a realtor and Concord native, is one of the founders of Southern Strain Brewing Co., which opened its doors at 165 Brumley St. in downtown Concord.
  • Coliseum V opened Sept. 19: At the new “action bar” Coliseum V, pay for all activities — virtual reality games, archery tag and laser tag 2.0 — by the half hour, at a rate of $12.95. The self-pour bar features food trucks and 72 taps of beers, wine, pre-mixed cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. The 22 virtual reality booths have a library of 180 games that guests can choose from
  • Bocao Sushi opened Sept. 28: While most people categorize sushi as an Asian dish, Miami-based chef El Ninja wanted to change the game. As a Japanese-Dominican man who only speaks Spanish, he knows a thing or two about irony. After trying El Ninja’s food at one of his restaurants in Miami, Bocao owners Carlos Nuñez and Victor Abad, also with Dominican roots, knew they had to find a way to bring a similar concept to Charlotte. Now we have Bocao Sushi at the AvidXchange Music Factory.
  • Good Cup opened its brick-and-mortar Sept. 30: Two years ago, Debbie and Joshua Chopas purchased Good Cup, a coffee booth at Matthews Community Farmers’ Market. Now, they’ve extended their family business to a location in the North End district, just minutes from downtown Matthews. It is located inside of The Loyalist Market in the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Building.

Restaurant closings

Alex Cason Photography
Sports One has a sign saying it is closed for renovations.
  • Rush Bowls closed Sept. 14: Rush Bowls in NoDa has the following sign posted: “Sorry, we are closed until further notice.” The Charlotte page on the Rush Bowls’ web site and the Charlotte Facebook page were both shut down. Attempts to reach the company for information were not returned. We’re already missing the Peanut Butter & Jelly bowl (sub fro yo for spinach and kale, add flaxseeds).
  • Sports One closed in mid September: Charlotte restaurant industry insiders are having mixed reactions to recent news that popular establishment Sports One has been closed. The bar was hit with a federal tax lien for $236,952.51, according to the Charlotte Business Journal, and owner Peter Thomas, a former regular on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” is being sued. Amid the closing, Charlotte’s African-American community loses an upscale gathering space in the heart of uptown, where the power elite and those aspiring went to meet friends, make deals, and flaunt — or flaut — social status. 
  • Dairy Queen on Central Avenue closing at the end of October: For over half a century, the walk up window-style Dairy Queen at 1431 Central Ave. has been serving up dipped cones to the Charlotte community. Go now, because the space will close before the end of the month. “It’s disheartening,” said Sherman Walters, whose family has owned the Dairy Queen and the one on Wilkinson Boulevard since the ’70s.

Making moves

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Clark Barlowe of Heirloom Restaurant
  • Heirloom Restaurant is for sale: When you’ve found the one, there is nothing or no one that can keep you from being with them. Even if that means putting your award-winning restaurant on the market and moving almost 3,000 miles across the country. Chef Clark Barlowe, owner of Heirloom Restaurant, announced he is putting the building on the market. While many would assume that it’s due to issues with the restaurant or something within the Charlotte market, it’s actually neither.
  • Lewis Donald of Sweet Lew’s buys Midwood icon Dish: Plaza Midwood neighborhood favorite Dish will see new ownership. But its new owners — including Sweet Lew’s BBQ owner Lewis Donald — will keep the Southern comfort food diners love, departing owner Penny Craver said. “I know there’s going to be improvements, but they’re pretty much committed to keeping things the way they are, at least for a while,” Craver said. “Whatever they do, they’re going to keep it Southern.”

What’s next?

Take a mental note of all of these restaurants and bars, which will open soon or have already opened in October.

Photo by Jonathan Cooper
In keeping with Italian style, Cicchetti will serve espresso and espresso drinks (yes, you can order an Americano if you’d like).
  • Cicchetti opened Oct. 1: Picture wandering the cobblestone streets of Venice in search of dinner. You wander from one baraco to another, eating bite-sized food served in places resembling small bars. With it you can enjoy a small amount of wine served in a glass the equivalent of a shot glass. Restaurateur Pierre Bader of Sonoma Restaurant Group has brought the concept to Uptown Charlotte. Cicchetti is now open at 100 N. Tryon St., in the space that once housed Badar’s restaurant, City Smoke.
  • Papi Queso opened at Optimist Hall on Oct. 1 Fans of award-winning grilled cheese sandwiches no longer have to wait for food truck Papi Queso to post its weekly location schedule. The popular streatery opened its first physical location in a stall in Optimist Hall.
  • Kiki and Tattoo to open in October: The Charlotte culinary scene has been anxiously awaiting the opening of Kiki, a restaurant with an intimate liquor lounge next door, created by Soul Gastrolounge’s Andy and Lesa Kastanas. The wait is finally coming to an end. The Kastanas are planning for an October opening for the restaurant located in a former gallery space and liquor lounge, aptly named Tattoo, in a former tattoo studio on a popular corner in Plaza Midwood. Chef Jason Pound of Soul will oversee Kiki’s kitchen as well. He will serve Franco-Greco inspired small plates with a focus on fresh vegetables, changing them throughout the season. 
  • First Watch opening in late October: The popular restaurant serving breakfast, brunch and lunch, will open a new location in Concord Mills in late October. The Concord location will be the fourth in the area — there are currently locations in Fort Mill, Matthews and on Providence Farm Lane in Charlotte. Order the the Million Dollar Bacon — hardwood smoked bacon baked with brown sugar, dusted with black pepper and cayenne, and drizzled with maple syrup.
  • White Duck Taco to open first Charlotte location in late October/Early November: Banh Mi Tofu. Bangkok Shrimp. Jerk Chicken. No, these are not dishes from the menus of international restaurants. But they are a few of the taco options from Asheville-based White Duck Taco. This unique eatery will soon open up not one, but several, locations across the Charlotte area.
  • Bargarita to open in late fall: Since NoDa mainstay Solstice Tavern closed last November, Charlotteans have been walking past its boarded-up windows, anticipating the restaurant that would take its place along the popular strip of restaurants and bars along North Davidson Street. Now, the wait is almost over. Bargarita, the latest concept from the Mason Jar Group, will open in this location.
  • Make it Coffee (MICO) to open by the end of the year: The three buildings that stand along South Brevard and Third streets are among the last remaining buildings in what was one of Charlotte’s most prominent black neighborhoods back in the 1960s. For years, the spaces served as the place for people to gather as a community and to share in their success. Now, The Brooklyn Collective is on a mission to ensure that the buildings serve a similar purpose for today’s Charlotte community. One of the most anticipated tenants is a coffee shop, slated to open by the end of the year. Make It Coffee, which will be run by Make It Work, will open on the lower level of the historic building.
  • Ruby Sunshine will open by the end of the year: If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you know that the food is something that must be experienced. People travel near and far just to indulge in the city’s famous cuisine, and lucky for us we’ll get a taste of it right in Charlotte. Ruby Sunshine, inspired by owners Jennifer and Erich Weishaupt of NOLA’s Ruby Slipper, will make its way to South End.

ICYMI: Spotlight on August

Alex Cason Photography
Tiff’s Treats, a warm cookie delivery service

Tiff’s Treats opened Aug. 24: It was a misty Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop the line, which began forming at midnight, from wrapping around the building. Austin-based cookie delivery company Tiff’s Treats was celebrating the opening of its first Charlotte store at 7314 Waverly Walk Ave., Suite E3, in the Providence Estates East area. The grand opening promotion: a dozen warm cookies for $1 and the chance to meet celebrities Brooklyn Decker and Andy Roddick. 

[Related: Can’t keep up with all the restaurant changes? Here’s your CliffsNotes: August 2019]

Gem of the Queen City

As new restaurants open every day in Charlotte, it’s easy to forget about the old standbys, the places that have grown up alongside the Queen City. We think they’ll always be there for us, but so many favorites have closed along the way. This makes it even more important to support the ones we love. Our Gems of the Queen City series highlights the places that you have frequented for years, reminding us why they have stood the test of time.

Courtesy of McNinch House

Check out: McNinch House. Every morning, Ellen Davis, the owner of a 130-year-old Victorian mansion uptown, wakes up, picks up the morning newspaper off the front porch and reads comments and notes from gracious customers written in her guest book. The house, located on 511 N. Church St., not only serves as Davis’ home, but as a space for people to come together and enjoy an exquisite dining experience. This place is called McNinch House. Timeless. Elegant. Inviting. A visit here is like taking a step back in history. Imagine a time when things were quiet, slow and the hustle and bustle of city living was nonexistent.


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