Grinning Mule originally planned to open on March 17 at 5 p.m., the exact day and time that restaurants were ordered to close for dine-in service due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The nonprofit restaurant in Plaza Midwood already had the ingredients and its team in place so they decided to cook anyway and donate the meals to One7 Ministries, a local nonprofit serving Charlotte’s refugee community.
A few months later, in June, Grinning Mule opened for dine-in service.
Tapas: Led by chef James Jeffries, who grew up in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood, the food menu is an array of small plates almost all $13 or less. The restaurant recently launched its fall menu with dishes like patatas bravas ($8) and a charred fall salad ($11). Here are more highlights:
- Lettuce wraps ($12) – chicken or tofu, mushroom, onion, water chestnuts, asian sauce, crispy rice noodles, chili garlic sauce, and lettuce shells.
- Burger sliders ($8) – homemade angus patty, bacon jam, sharp cheddar cheese, house pickles, and spicy aoili on Hawaiian rolls.
- Bacon and blue flatbread ($13) – goat cheese, mozzarella, candied bacon, red onion, arugula, house-made bleu cheese dressing.
- Tuna poke won ton tacos ($8) – saku tuna, red pepper, red onion, cucumber, citrus soy sauce, avocado, sesame seeds, Asian aioli, and cilantro.
Cocktails: Grinning Mule also has a robust cocktail program by mixologist Bob Peters. All cocktails are $11 — no matter how nice the liquor. You’ll see Peters behind the bar a few times a week. Two cocktails — the Butternut Brandy and I’m The Gingerbread Man! — can be personalized with ripples, which leaves an imprint in the foam of your drink.
Why nonprofit: Owned by Beth and Bart Kofoed, Grinning Mule joins a small group of Charlotte restaurants in the nonprofit space, including Community Matters Café. Bart, who’s also the founder of 2xSalt Ministry and a former NBA player, says the restaurant can be a “great vehicle for people who need a second chance.”
[Related Agenda story: An addict’s journey to recovery through the Community Matters Café]
Hours: Grinning Mule is open 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 5-10 p.m. on Friday-Saturday.
Location: Its exact address is 1109 Morningside Drive in Plaza Midwood.
Here’s a closer look around:
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