Plaza Midwood failure shows “Sabor Effect” is strong, but Comida will find its niche in new Myers Park location

Plaza Midwood failure shows “Sabor Effect” is strong, but Comida will find its niche in new Myers Park location
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Comida, a sophisticated Mexican restaurant with fancy cocktails and chic decor, is closing its Plaza Midwood restaurant and moving into Myers Park where it will share space with littleSpoon.

comida-inside-charlotte-restaurant

Alesha Stegemeyer owns both Comida and littleSpoon, so the economics of the move make complete sense. littleSpoon dominates the hip breakfast, brunch and lunch scene. But it doesn’t do dinner. So Comida will be able to make use of the space for dinner service and as a cocktail bar.

Let’s be honest, Plaza Midwood hated Comida. Expensive tacos and cocktails just didn’t fit the neighborhood. Comida debuted to a brutal 2.6 Yelp rating and never recovered.

The Observer reports that littleSpoon will shut down around December 31 for about a month for dining room and kitchen updates that’ll accommodate Comida.

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Alesha told the Observer, “When we reopen, it will feel like a brand new restaurant.” It’s also interesting to note that Alesha owns the space in Plaza Midwood and is likely to rent it out to another restaurant given the current upfit.

Call me crazy, but if Waffle House moved in the Comida’s Plaza Midwood space, it would dominate. The location is fantastic and it’ll be interesting to report on what moves in.

Reviews of high-end Mexican restaurants like Comida and SouthBound are evidence that the “Sabor Effect” is strong.

Charlotte is deeply in love with Sabor and this obsession means that any new Mexican restaurant will unfairly be compared to our beloved Sabor.

Sabor has $1 Taco Tuesdays. Comida’s tacos are small and cost $3-$5.

Sabor has $4 house margaritas on Fridays. Comida’s margaritas can cost $14.

Many of you will say, “Ted, there is no Sabor Effect, Comida and SouthBound just have bad food.” While I can understand that perspective, I disagree that the Sabor Effect doesn’t play a material role in this perceived judgement.

tacos-southbound-restaurant

Tacos at SouthBound next to Mac’s in South End.

Comida and SouthBound are not similar to Sabor, but Charlotteans view them through the same lens.

When I ask people about Comida or SouthBound, almost all responses include a mention of Sabor.

You’ll hear…

“Why would I pay $50 for date night at Comida, when Sabor is within a mile of that restaurant and we can stuff ourselves for less than $20?”

“Why does SouthBound only provide little tiny paper cups for salsa while Sabor has an entire salsa bar with plastic dipping cups?”

The good news for SouthBound is that it has been able to capitalize on its gorgeous space to grow a huge bar business as it finds the right product/market fit for its menu.

But don’t count Comida as dead — its new Myers Park location is a perfect fit.

The new location is walkable from many Myers Park homes and it’s a perfect foil to Selwyn Pub across the street.

Myers Park is a helluva lot different than Plaza Midwood.

Myers Park needs more adult dining spots and adult cocktail bars — leave Selwyn Pub for the frat stars/cougars and the Mellow Mushroom for the young families with screaming kiddos puzzled about whether or not to tip the balloon animal guy during their 5:15 p.m. dinners (by the way, I’m a good customer of both).

new-comida-location-charlotte

Not too many restaurants get a second life. With better economics and a better neighborhood fit, it’ll be interesting to see whether Comida can overcome the Sabor Effect.

My bet is yes. After all, Cantina 1511 and Paco’s Tacos have been able to pull it off.

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