Exclusive: The Spindle Bar—serving draft cocktails, beer and wine—to open in Optimist Hall

Photo by Alex Cason Photography
Optimist Hall progress in November 2018.

The Spindle Bar is the latest tenant to join the highly anticipated Optimist Hall lineup, CharlotteFive has learned in an exclusive interview. Folkart Management, the team behind Billy Sunday and led by Chef Matthias Merges, has created an 18-seat cocktail bar that will serve the entire food hall. 

The Spindle Bar will be run by Billy Sunday mixologist Stephanie Andrews and will offer draft cocktails, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. This latest vendor news will round out its anchor beverage programming, including the second location for craft cocktail bar Billy Sunday

Courtesy of Folkart
Chef Matthias Merges

The Spindle Bar differs from Optimist Hall’s other liquor bars in that the ABC licence will allow you to travel the entire food hall with your cocktail. Continue shopping for dinner or other provisions with your drink in hand, or choose to settle in the indoor communal seating or the outdoor courtyard. The other bars serving liquor, including Billy Sunday and El Thrifty, will serve cocktails meant to be consumed within their dedicated areas, but The Spindle Bar will serve the entire 22,000-square-foot space. Additional beer and wine vendors will also serve the entire food hall, but no other liquor bars will have that option.

A three-wheeled vintage mobile cocktail truck called a Tuk Tuk (think: rickshaw) operated by The Spindle Bar will also serve local beers and seasonal draft cocktails on the 6,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard facing Brevard Street.

The Spindle Bar’s name is connected to the heritage of Optimist Hall, said Erik Johnson, co-founder of White Point Partners, part of the development team behind Optimist Hall. “We tried to pull out meaningful parts of the history. It’s a unique name; you’re not going to confuse it for anything. Since it’s serving the broader food hall, it’s a name appropriate to the entire food hall.”

Courtesy of Paces Properties
A rendering of Optimist Hall

“The goal with Spindle Bar is it to be a bar that caters to every man and has quick service,” Johnson said. Think: easy drinking cocktails, in your hand quickly. “Billy Sunday will be more high end, an intimate, slower-type experience.” Think: Dot Dot Dot or The Crunkleton.

Photo by Matthias Merges

Billy Sunday will occupy 1,500 square feet at Optimist Hall, offering 60 indoor seats and a 50-seat patio. Originating in Chicago, the bar is known for its classic drinks, craft cocktails and vintage spirits. Cocktail components will be prepared in-house, including syrups, tonics, bitters and hard-carved ice. Mixologists will also use local produce.

“The opportunity to reimagine the spirit of Billy Sunday in Charlotte has been an incredible experience, along with the chance to create an entirely new cocktail bar from scratch with Spindle,” mixologist Andrews said in a statement. In addition to Billy Sunday and The Spindle Bar, Folkart Management is behind the brew pub Lucky Dorr, steps away from Wrigley Field, Mordecai Whiskey & GrillHush Money and craft brew house Old Irving Brewing, all in Chicago.

Courtesy of Folkart
Mixologist Stephanie Andrews

One of 2019’s most anticipated projects

Optimist Hall has been one of the most anticipated projects of the year. The former gingham mill, once considered an empty eyesore at worst or something you’d pass by without noticing at best, is transforming into a beautiful adaptive reuse space in Optimist Park. 

Once called Tompkins Hall, it is a 147,000-square-foot redevelopment of the mill built in 1892, which will include a food hall, retail, restaurants and office space. It’s just a block away from the Parkwood Station of the LYNX Light Rail. The project is a joint venture of Atlanta-based Paces Properties and Charlotte-based White Point Partners. 

Courtesy of White Point Partners
An artist’s rendering before the project was renamed shows what the completed Optimist Hall project will look like, including an outdoor seating area in the center.

Nestled in Optimist Park and comfortably surrounded by Uptown, the Belmont neighborhood, Villa Heights and NoDa, it’s sure to be the hot new gathering spot of the fall. As tenant after tenant is announced, the excitement has only grown.

Optimist Hall has retained many of the property’s original features, including hardwood floors, 14-foot ceilings and interior brick and beams.

It’s like no other food hall in the country, Johnson said. “We were given one of the fingers of this turn of the century mill and basically had to fit in a food stall, seating, room for walking, perusing, and that ultimately turned out to be somewhat challenging,” he said. “We ultimately have what we think is a great design.”

The Spindle Bar will join previously announced tenants:

The Spindle Bar and Billy Sunday are expected to open in late summer, along with the rest of the food hall’s first group of tenants.

Optimist Hall

1115 N. Brevard St.

Instagram: @optimisthallclt


  1. All the new tenant announcements are cool, but I think Charlotteans are ready for them to announce an opening date or date range or season or year.


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