Tucked away between North Davidson and Brevard is a new divey, artsy, maybe soon-to-be cultural center: A bar called Starlight on 22nd.
It’s the brainchild of Ruth Ava Lyons and Paul Sires, the former owners of Center of the Earth art gallery in NoDa.
Context: Lyons and Sires are self-pronounced “NoDa Arts District OG pioneers.” They moved to NoDa in the early 80s from Detroit and opened an art gallery before NoDa became the NoDa we know today. “Back then there was nothing out here,” Sires says.
- He remembers a time when NoDa’s neighborhood association consisted of about three people. Back then, you could buy a fixer-upper house or building for about $30-$40k.
- The “it” bar to go to at the time was a dive called “Pats,” which sold Bud Light and PBR for a dollar.
Why it matters: Just like they did in the 80s, Sires and Lyons continue to see potential in the NoDa area (technically Starlight is on the edge of NoDa, near Villa Heights). They want to double down on it by making something cool.
“There’s a lot of social equity, people still seem to be interested in certain causes and trying to protect the neighborhood,” Sires says.
- With construction going on to the left and right of the building, Sires pictures Starlight as NoDa’s version of the Thirsty Beaver— an old spot surrounded by new development.
State of play: Starlight on 22nd is meant to be a place where you go to have a drink and an experience. Sires says they hope to host live music, comedy shows, spoken word, art galleries, and other cultural popups as well as private events.
The couple either thrifted, repurposed, or created every piece of art, furniture, light fixture, and table centerpiece in the bar. You might not expect it by the building’s simple exterior, but when you swing open the front doors, works of art of all shapes and sizes greet you.
- As soon as you walk in, look up and notice the ceiling made completely out of streetlights.
- Above the bar, you’ll notice the old Evening Muse doors.
- On top of each table, you’ll find a unique trophy or vintage nicknack to toy around with.
Outside the 1500 square-foot space, you’ll find wooden picnic tables, corn hole, and eventually some additional outdoor games.
Details: Starlight on 22nd is open Tuesday-Friday from 4pm-10pm, Fridays from 4pm-midnight, Saturdays from 12pm-midnight, and Sundays from 12pm-7pm.
- The exact address is: 422 E 22nd St, Charlotte, NC 28206.
- And yes, there’s plenty of free parking.
- Due to North Carolina ABC laws, there’s a one-time $1 membership fee.