Former NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip has opened his new taproom minutes from Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Michael Waltrip Taproom is at 7731 Gateway Lane NW, in the former Hotshots Sports Bar and Grill spot.
Why it matters: Waltrip is one of many athletes in the area to chase other passions in the food and hospitality industry after their respective sports careers have ended.
- Former Panthers’ NFL Player Thomas Davis, for instance, opened his sports bar Ten58 down the street from Bank of America Stadium last winter.
- Waltrip says it was a dream come true to have a taproom a short drive from where he once raced.
- “I’ve done a little bit of everything over my career but I’ve only dreamed of opening this,” Waltrip said.
Menu: Expect a range of options including shareable plates, wings, handhelds, burgers, salads and desserts.
- The fry flight, a set of three different fries or tots dusted with truffle, cajun and the MW (sweet and smokey flavor) seasoning is one of their signature dishes, along with the Bobby Ray burger.
- For drinks, there will be 12 total beers, including two of Watrip’s signature beer options, on tap, cocktails and wine.
The space: The 8,000-square-foot restaurant can seat about 240 people indoors and about 100 people on the patio.
- There are also plans to add a deck this summer.
- Multiple flat-screen TVs surrounding the entire bar will broadcast races along with college and professional games.
Vibe: The “family-friendly sports bar” has a variety of entertainment options including billiards, arcade basketball games, darts and poker tables.
- Waltrip says he wanted his fun-filled and lighthearted personality to be displayed throughout the bar.
- “We want people to come for the food and beer and then stay for the experience. I’m known for being a fun guy so I want this place to be fun,” Waltrip said.
Hours: It’s open Monday through Thursday from 4pm-1am, Friday and Saturday from 4pm-2am, and Sunday from 4pm-1am.
What’s next: Waltrip and his partner Ken McAllister plan to expand their taproom to other NASCAR markets.
- They’re racing to open another location in Charlotte before the end of the year, and they’re on track to open at least 100 locations within the next five years.
- The taproom will partner with multiple sports venues in the Charlotte area by hosting festivals and other events. For instance, they’re hosting race week events this month in collaboration with Charlotte Motor Speedway.