Uptown’s next coffee shop will offer a market-like vibe with food, coffee, merchandise and local art. The group behind Queen City Grounds plans to open its shop early February at 644 N. Church St. on SkyHouse Uptown’s ground floor, and Jeff McElwee of popular eatery FūD at Salud in NoDa, which is set to close Feb. 5, will be creating the food menu and running the kitchen. McElwee also announced on his Instagram account that he “will be working on getting a food truck going, aptly named the FūD Truck.”
Musician Paul Waggoner, who roasts ethically sourced coffee with Nightflyer Roastworks (formerly Parliament Coffee Roasters), will open the 3,200-square-foot home of Queen City Grounds in partnership with Matt Mahoney, Mahoney’s family, barista and director of social media Parker Armstrong and head barista Dillon Williams.
You can already sample the goods. For now, Queen City Grounds will continue popping up in the north tower lobby of SkyHouse apartments, where the group is slinging drinks like mochas, espressos and pour overs, plus serving pastries. There’s a lounge with comfy couches and chairs to kick back in while you enjoy.
When Queen City Grounds officially opens, it will carry a modern yet rustic vibe with a lot of greenery, tables, chairs and plush seating. And an emphasis on Waggoner’s coffee roaster.
Waggoner will be roasting beans in-house to bring a new experience to Uptowners, with a bar surrounding the roasting area so people can sit, drink coffee and witness the process. Upstairs seating in a mezzanine area will look down on the roaster as well.
Initial hours will be 6 a.m. to about 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.
“We want it to be a place where people can kind of come and hang out,” Waggoner said, adding that they want to emphasize the “slowing down aspect” of coffee in this space.
That vibe certainly fits the tagline on their website: “Stay grounded.”
While they chill out, customers will be able to order coffees, teas, Lenny Boy kombuchas, snack items like pastries by Whisk + Wood, and breakfast and lunch choices like made-to-order sandwiches, as created by McElwee.
“We’re going to let him kind of take the reins, see what he can come up with,” Waggoner said of McElwee’s role in the kitchen.
Customers will also be able to browse local merchandise by Moxie Mercantile and a rotation of local art curated by Lia Newman of HappeningsCLT.
This is all meant to give local artists a voice and an outlet, Waggoner said. “We just want to spread the good word because there are obviously a lot of talented people in this city.”
There is room to grow, too. Eventually, the group plans to extend their hours and serve beer, wine and tapas-style dinner bites, as well as add some outdoor seating and incorporate live, acoustic music.
Why Uptown for this vision to unfold?
“This part of Uptown is growing and, especially, we liked all the residential units here,” Waggoner said. “So we thought it would give us an opportunity to be a homier, neighborhood coffee shop, as opposed to being in the hustle and bustle.”
Catch the Queen City Grounds pop-up shop
North Tower of SkyHouse Uptown, 640 N. Church St.
Wednesdays, 7-10 a.m.
Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon