It’s been seven years since Chef Greg Collier and his wife Subrina decided to move back down south and open up a little breakfast spot.
Even though local chefs, farmers and local food writers (including this one) have always considered this talented couple to a part of the Charlotte culinary skyline, the truth is Greg and Subrina have been wanted to get more of a profile in Charlotte for years now. It seems they have arrived.
The Colliers operated The Yolk in Rock Hill before moving it to 7th Street Public Market, 224 E. 7th St., earlier this year. He’s also executive chef at Loft & Cellar at 305 W. 4th St. At The Uptown Yolk, the couple has created a program that gives up-and-coming chefs a shot at making a brick-and-mortar go of it.
Together Greg and Subrina have been instrumental in the creation of Soul Food Sessions, a collaborative dinner series featuring African-American culinarians where Greg continues to be an active member. Next month, Greg will join 19 other area chefs representing Charlotte along with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority at the 2019 Charleston Food + Wine festival.
And on Wednesday, it was announced that he’s on the semifinalist list for the James Beard Awards.
ICYMI: What you should know about The Yolk
The Yolk, originally located in Rock Hill, quickly became an iconic breakfast go-to. The menu featured locally sourced breakfast and brunch fare, and folks loved it. It wasn’t unusual to see a line wrapped around the building for weekend brunching. Likewise, weekday business was brisk from the beginning.
After six years, though, Greg and Subrina were ready for a change. Timing and opportunities were right, so last year, the couple closed the Rock Hill location and made the move to 7th Street Public Market in Uptown Charlotte, opening in January.
The Uptown Yolk has stayed true to its roots and continues to operate with a focus on local food resources. “Team Yolk”, as Collier affectionately refers to his staff, has beefed up the menu to appeal more to the lunch crowd and have added what they describe as, “a touch of contemporary flare.”
Here are 2 things to order at The Uptown Yolk:
1) Benny Baja
Crowd-pleasing breakfast and lunch menu items include something for everyone. Those with a vegetarian bend, or just taking a break from a meat-filled diet, will adore the vegetarian play on a classic Eggs Benedict. Two perfectly poached local eggs sit atop a bed of seasonal local vegetables and a toasted English Muffin. It’s finished with just the right amount of homemade hollandaise and local microgreens.
2) Dahaven Burger
This duck fat Lodge Cast Iron-seared beef patty is served with with bread and butter pickles, house-made roasted mushroom ketchup and a white cheddar fondue all piled high on local Dukes Bread pretzel bread.
Here is what happens at The Uptown Yolk at night
As their jam is breakfast and lunch, and Greg already had the Loft & Cellar gig at night, the opening of The Uptown Yolk has presented a unique mentoring opportunity for the Colliers. They came up with a way to give back and help up-and-coming chefs get a leg up.
They are using the popularity and publicity The Uptown Yolk is getting with the new space and relocation of their original concept as a way to help promote new young chefs. The opportunity gives new chefs a chance to try their hands at a brick-and-mortar location.
It’s an incubator program to help build new businesses one baby step at a time. The plan works in 2-3 month cycles with the focus on a rotating chef or team of chefs in residence for evening service in the space that is The Uptown Yolk by day.
“We decided to use the space as the incubator space it was meant to be. We want smaller concepts to launch their idea of brick-and-mortar and get a true idea of what it takes to run one. While they are doing this, they should be utilizing marketing tools, learning how to staff and manage, all while building some capital to grow.” Subrina Collier said.
At 2:30 each day, the concept changes for the rest of the evening. The idea is for a chef to use the space for a few months to get a new concept off the ground.
Currently, a trio of young talent is on the line and behind the register. Chefs Anthony Denning, Robert Knight and Maurice Jackson of 225 Street Food are using the opportunity to make their dreams come true.
The opportunity has not been without its challenges. These young chefs have learned the importance of teamwork and balance as they fine-tune the rigors of life, their food truck and the menu, schedule and service at The Yolk Uptown at night. Denning, formally with SouthPark Grill and Fahrenheit Charlotte, is at 225 full time. Knight and Jackson still both have day jobs, which adds on a bit of extra pressure, but team members says they are dedicated to making it work.
“The February NBA All-Star weekend was what put us to the test,” Denning said. “We were busy here and we had private food truck contracts. It was hard and we didn’t sleep much, but we did it.”
It’s been trial by fire for sure. As important as it is to master the logistics, it’s the food that counts.
Here are 3 things to order at 225 Street Food:
1) Crispy Wonton Nachos
Made with grilled chicken, pickled veggies, a Sriracha aioli, sweet soy and cilantro, one order is plenty for two to share as a start to your evening or for an afternoon pick-me-up. Pictured at top.
2) Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich
On the heartier side, this sandwich is a two-handed mouthful to say the least – you might even need to eat it with a fork and knife. spicy fried chicken breast sits on a tender bun, dressed with North Carolina’s own English Farmstead Buttercup Cheese, house-made bread and butter pickles and a house ranch drizzle.
3) Nashville Hot Fries
This is a crispy potato-y version of the Hot Chicken Sandwich, sans the chicken and cheese.
225 Street Food will be serving afternoon and evening meals at The Yolk Uptown from now until the end of April. Then another budding chef or chef driven’ concept will take a 2-3 month term.
James Beard announcement
The semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards for 2019 were announced on Wednesday, and Collier is one of three from the Charlotte area listed among the dozen chefs, restaurants and breweries recognized from North Carolina.
Collier was recognized for his work at Loft & Cellar. He stands beside chef Joe Kindred of Kindred in Davidson and Hello Sailor in Cornelius. Collier and Kindred are nominated in the Best Chef in the Southeast category.
Additionally, The Stanley, located in Charlotte’s historic Elizabeth neighborhood and owned by chef Paul Verica, was named among the semifinalists vying for the Best New Restaurant in the country.
Winners will be announced at the annual James Beard Awards Gala on May 6 in Chicago.