Our Now Open series is proudly presented by Charlotte Center City Partners. New businesses are part of what makes Charlotte great but don’t forget to take some time to say hello again to the people and places that made us fall in love with our city in the first place. Check out CharlotteCenterCity.org + SouthEndCLT.org to find even more spots to explore.
Even in a pandemic, restaurants and shops are opening in Charlotte. Is it the ideal time to launch a new business? No. But these entrepreneurs are making it happen anyway.
I’ve been surprised with the steady flow of restaurant and retail news throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Despite financial setbacks and heart-breaking closures, Charlotte is resilient, especially when it comes to its small-business owners.
Still to come: We’re only in September. There are still exciting openings to come. Summit Seltzer, a hard seltzer brewery and taproom, is opening this fall. Harriet’s Hamburgers is next up in Optimist Hall. Orto, by The Stanley chef Paul Verica, and Haberdish team’s Supperland are both under construction now. And The Original Hot Dog Factory is planning an opening this fall.
[Related Agenda guide: The 24 most anticipated new restaurant, bar, and brewery grand openings of 2020]
Here are 30+ new restaurants, breweries, shops, and food stalls that opened in the midst of a pandemic.
(This list is in no particular order. If you choose to dine out or shop in-person, do so safely — wear a mask, practice social distancing, etc. Due to the ongoing pandemic, hours and menus may vary. Call before you go.)
Camp North End’s first restaurant has already garnered national attention for chef Greg Collier’s dishes inspired by the Mississippi River Valley foodways
What to order: At least once a week, I crave Leah & Louise’s Tang tart called Arthur Lou ($7) with an oatmeal crust, ginger meringue, and rotating dried and fresh fruit. Then there’s Leah’s Cabbage ($8) — slow-roasted cabbage so tender you can run your fork through it. I’ve had nearly everything on the menu over three separate visits, and I’ve never had a bad dish (or drink; shoutout to mixologist Justin Hazleton).
Location: 301 Camp Road. Inside Camp North End, next to what will soon be Free Range Brewing’s second location.
Mama Ricotta’s sister concept, with a cocktail program run by Brian Lorusso and Charlotte’s first mozzarella bar
Background: Restauranteur and owner Frank Scibelli calls Little Mama’s a “prequel” to Mama Ricotta’s, a Charlotte staple since it opened in 1992. The new Italian-American restaurant is a representation of the restaurants Scibelli and partners Stephanie Kalish and Tom Dyrness remember dining at while growing up in the northeast in the ’60s and ’70s. And you can see that in the details at Little Mama’s — old-school booths, decades-old family photographs, and the “mozz bar.”
Mozzarella bar: Similar to a sushi bar, Little Mama’s has a six-seat mozzarella bar where guests have a view of the kitchen happenings. The mozz bar will serve a rotating selection of mozzarella, including Fior di Latte ($7), Stracciatella ($8), or a made-to-order fresh ball of mozzarella with two accompaniments ($21).
Location: 521 Sharon Rd., Ste. 175. The 3,600-square-foot restaurant is located across the street from SouthPark mall.
From the talented Bardo team, VANA opened in South End in August
Menu: VANA’s menu is rustic with a mix of tapas-style dishes and larger sharable plates like a 36-ounce tomahawk ribeye and a whole fish, which rotates seasonally. Many dishes are cooked on the fire hearth and in the pizza oven (!). The price point is a little lower than at Bardo, with dishes ranging from $7-$78.
Drinks: Behind the bar, mixologist Amanda Britton plays off the kitchen’s wood-burning theme with a focus on barrel-aged whiskey and agave spirits. For summer, expect Britton’s cocktail menu to be refreshing. There’s also a “shot ski,” a ski you and a friend can take a shot off of. There will also be beer and wine available.
Between Camp North End and Optimist Hall, eight stalls (including one Airstream camper) have opened since spring
Camp North End:
- La Caseta – Featuring flavors of El Salvador, Mexico, Venezuela, and Argentina, inspired by the team members’ diverse family traditions.
- Saru – Ramen shop from New York-based Bow Ramen.
- Bleu Barn Bistro – Farm-to-table food stall serving burgers, tacos, and more.
- Popbar – Custom gelato and sorbet popsicles from the same owners as the Popbar in NoDa.
- Black Moth Bars – Cocktail bar using locally sourced ingredients and operating out of an Airstream camper.
[Related Agenda guide: User’s guide: Camp North End, the growing development near Uptown, now home to 40+ cool tenants]
- Suarez Bakery – The beloved Park Road Shopping Center bakery opened its second location this summer. Much of the menu centers on Cuban-born owner Carlos Suárez’s acclaimed traditional bread. [Read more: Suárez Bakery’s second location now open in Optimist Hall]
- Boxcar Betty’s – Award-winning chicken sandwiches. [Read more: Charleston-based fried chicken sandwich concept named Boxcar Betty’s opening in Optimist Hall]
The North Carolina-born doughnut chain just installed its first-ever doughnut vending machine in South End
What to expect: In addition to Krispy Kreme’s classic offerings, guests can expect an expanded menu with things like scoop sandwiches (Krispy Kreme’s take on the classic ice cream sandwich) and hand-spun milkshakes made with doughnut-infused ice cream. “Being home to our Global Product & Innovation Center, Charlotte is near and dear to our hearts, so we’re treating our neighbors to special experiences they won’t find at any other Krispy Kreme location,” Simard says.
Location: 2116 Hawkins St. Next-door to the new Insomnia Cookies.
The new luxury Uptown hotel is home to two new restaurants, and a bar on the way
Mico: Located on the ground floor, Mico is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It offers South American-inspired dishes with Mediterranean influences, including a signature Wagyu Delmonico steak.
The Bohemian Garden: Expect grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, and drinks along the new pocket park.
Búho: The rooftop bar and restaurant will have its own elevator. It will be open evenings on Tuesday through Saturday (closed Monday and Sunday). Expect craft cocktails such as an aloe vera mojito and smoked old-fashioned, along with sharable small plates such as scallop crudo and Devil Shoal oyster shots. The rooftop will have fire pits, and Búho will host DJs on the weekend. It hopes to open once North Carolina moves to phase three.
Rooftop restaurants and bars
Charlotte gained a few more rooftop options this year, including two in SouthPark and one in Uptown
Cordial: Located at the top of the new AC Hotel in SouthPark, this 5,500-square-foot bar and restaurant has fancy craft cocktails, a European-focused wine collection, and Spanish-influenced small plates to munch on. [Read more: A rooftop bar in new AC Hotel is now open in SouthPark]
RH Charlotte: Covering 50,000-square-feet, the three-story RH Charlotte has a luxe rooftop restaurant that feels like a mix of a palace and a greenhouse. [Read more: The massive, three-story RH Charlotte with rooftop restaurant now open in SouthPark]
Cloud Bar: The newest of the three, Cloud Bar (formerly Skybar) is celebrity chef David Burke’s first concept in Charlotte. If you’re there to dine, order the bacon. It’s served on a clothesline. [Read more: See inside Cloud Bar, a rooftop bar by celeb chef David Burke]
South End restaurant with oysters, craft cocktails, and artisan ice off to a hot start
What to expect: At just over 6,000 square feet, STIR has courtyard patio seating, roll-up garage doors for walk-up bar access, a private room that seats 50, and an open kitchen. Drinks take time, but that’s because of the ice. Ice isn’t an afterthought at STIR. First, it takes three days to create 300-pound blocks of purified ice by a Clinebell machine. Then the ice is cut into one of seven drink-specific shapes, designed to melt in a way that doesn’t water down the cocktail.
Location: 1422 South Tryon St., Ste. 130. Find it in The Railyard in South End near North Italia and Rhino Market.
Vegetarian-focused restaurant with an attached art gallery
What to expect: Charlotte native and chef Ken Aponte’s menu is vegetarian focused, but there are still plenty of options for meat-eaters, too. The drink list was created by mixologist Bob Peters, so you know it’s good.
Art gallery: In order to get to the restaurant, you’ll walk through the art gallery, which displays works of C3 Lab’s resident artists and more. The gallery rotates every two months.
Location: 2517 Distribution St. Find it in South End next to C3 Lab.
Upscale Korean restaurant located steps from the corner of Trade and Tryon
What to expect: The elegant restaurant with royal blue velvet seating and gold light fixtures is large at nearly 5,000 square feet, but the dining space is broken up into different rooms so it still feels intimate. Owner Sean Kim compares the atmosphere to the classic Uptown steakhouse, but with Korean cuisine.
Tabletop Korean barbecue: Many Korean barbecue restaurants charge an all-you-can-eat rate, but MOA has listed prices for each type of meat. This allows them to get higher-quality cuts like prime ribeye and prime beef brisket. You can buy the meats a la carte ($20-$50) or in combos ($80-$200, feeds 2-5 people and includes sides). Then your server will cook the meat in front of you.
Location: 128 S. Tryon St. MOA is just steps from the corner of Trade and Tryon in Uptown.
Popular fried seafood chain has a new Charlotte location on Central Avenue
What to expect: The menu features “samwiches,” po’boys, baskets, and tacos. Not to mention their delicious sides. “Samwiches” range from $6.45 to $12.45, po’boys $9.75 to $11.75, baskets $7.95 to $18.25, and all tacos are $7.45. Sides can be added to each meal and range from $1.50 to $4.95.
Background: Chaz Crenshaw, owner of Skrimp Shack’s Eastway franchise, calls himself the “Skrimp King.” He’s a character, and plays it up on social media. Since he opened the restaurant this summer, he’s formed partnerships with other Black-owned businesses to bring awareness to their work.
Location: 3718 Central Ave. Located on the corner of Central and Eastway.
Members-only dog park and (human) bar in South End with a full pet care facility attached
What to expect: Covering 24,000-square-feet of indoor space and 15,000-square-feet of outdoor space, Skiptown has a splash pad, turf with cooling capability, shaded areas, seating, plenty of space for dogs to run, and a section for small dogs. It also has TVs, a U-shaped bar with 25 taps, and rotating food trucks. Coming soon: A dog-themed mural from Duarte Designs.
Location: 222 Rampart St. Located in South End near Sycamore Brewing.
Breakfast and brunch restaurant with New Orleans roots
Background: In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Jennifer and Erich Weishaupt transformed an old corner store in New Orleans into Ruby Slipper Café. In the years since, the husband-and-wife duo have expanded across the U.S. Ruby Sunshine is a similar concept to the original Ruby Slipper with a focus on breakfast and brunch food.
Location: 322 W. Bland St., across from Seoul Food Meat Company and next to Lost & Found in South End.
Background: Formerly on the 27th floor of Hines Charlotte Plaza, Bentley’s on 27, now shortened to Bentley’s, relocated to Piedmont Row in SouthPark this summer. Executive chef James Loftus made the food and drink menu similar to the old Bentley’s Uptown location, with classical French cuisine and some modern touches. “The biggest change is probably that we no longer have the amazing view that we had from the 27th floor,” Loftus says.
Location: 4620 Piedmont Row Dr., Ste. 110. Located in the old Georges Brasserie space in SouthPark.
The first brewery located in the Monroe Road area
Background: Edge City opened in April during the stay at home order, but the pair still managed to distribute its beer, selling growlers for pick-up.
Location: 6209 Old Post Rd., right off Monroe.
Unpretentious, family-run wine bar with 64 wines available via self-serve taps
Wine selection: There are 64 wines by the ounce available to pour — the largest self-pour selection of wine in North Carolina. Pours start at $0.86 per ounce or $12 for a bottle and go up from there. TAP offers some wines from the state as well as wines from across the country and the world. TAP also has 18 taps for beer, hard cider, and hard seltzer.
Location: 5033 South Blvd. Located in Madison Park.
The east Charlotte bakery and desserts bar expanded with a new flagship location in late August — plus they’re adding an express location in South End in September
Background: BW Sweets owner Frankie White moved the bakery’s flagship store three doors down to a larger location. This month, the bakery is also expanding to South End with an express location.
Selection: The bakery will continue carrying the daily dessert bar and will also add ice cream, bread, and cake decorating and baking courses.
Location: 5820 East W.T. Harris Blvd., Ste. L. (South End location will be at 1425 Winnifred St., Ste. 105).
Fun margarita-focused restaurant in NoDa
Margaritas: As the name suggests, Bargarita is all about the margs. Choose from craft margaritas ($9-$11) like strawberry jalapeño or Champagne lemonade, or order a frozen margarita ($8). There also are tequila flights.
Location: 3221 North Davidson Street in NoDa.
Bakery and market in SouthPark
What to expect: You’ll find classic bakery items like bread and breakfast pastries, as well as grab-and-go options like seasonal salads and sandwiches. Plus a selection of cheeses and charcuterie, produce, wine, family meal packages, and more.
Location: 6601 Morrison Blvd.
Shopping: The first two floors at RH (Restoration Hardware) are dedicated to home furnishings and interior design. On the first floor you’ll find RH interiors collection, along with staged rooms to see the furnishings in action. The second level is home to RH modern, the store’s modern furnishings collection, as well as the interior design studio with professional services available for hire.
Location: 6903 Phillips Place Ct. Located in SouthPark.
A new shopping strip below the Centro Railyard apartments in South End featuring “micro” storefronts
- CLT Boutique – Boutique offering women’s clothing, shoes, accessories, and kids’ clothing.
- Glory Days Apparel – Charlotte-themed clothing and accessories for men, women, kids, and pets.
- The Cactus Club – Plant shop, which started from a mobile store.
- Outlaw Hair Co. – Hair studio.
- Five13Studio – Women’s clothing and apparel shop.
- You Got Swank – Men’s and women’s apparel.
- olpr. – Handmade leather goods.
[Related Agenda guide: Shopping guide: Micro-retail storefronts now open at Centro Railyard in South End]
- Good Postage Co. – Stationery and paper goods.
- That’s Novel Books – Used book store by the Hygge team.
Local clothing brand opened its Design Center storefront in South End
What to expect: The men’s clothing company was founded in Charlotte in 2013. It offers ready-wear and custom men’s clothing — from T-shirts to suits to face masks. “While this is certainly not the ideal way and time to open a store, we are thrilled to finally be open in such an amazing location,” co-owner Bradley Rhyne says.
Location: 1930 Camden Road, Ste. 125.