What’s opening in 2020? Here’s a quick breakdown of the 21 most anticipated new restaurant, bars, and breweries opening in the next 12 months.
The Charlotte food and drink scene exploded in 2019 (seriously, we covered around 100 openings), and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down in 2020.
Expansions: The most anticipated list below only includes new concepts to Charlotte. It doesn’t include big expansions like People’s Market opening in Uptown, Tupelo Honey opening in Uptown, Superica opening in SouthPark, Snooze opening in South End, and Cookie Dough Bliss opening in South End.
Also keep a lookout for SoulCyle opening in South End, PlantBar opening in Dilworth, and Krispy Kreme’s test kitchen opening in South End. These will be popular openings.
Bottom line: 2020 will be another big year for grand openings. Here’s our list of the most anticipated, order by opening date (not ranked).
Elevated comfort food served in a historic mill house
Opening: January 2020 in NoDa, just down the street from Habderdish
The space: The Goodyear House, 3032 N. Davidson St. (directly across the street from the Johnston YMCA), is named after the Depression-era practice of farmers using extra money earned during harvests in “good years” to add on to their homes.
The original 1,500-square-foot property was built in 1900, and extensive work is currently underway to add another 1,700-1,800 square feet of breezy, indoor-outdoor space, including a backyard courtyard and outdoor bar. Cluck Design, the same firm that designed Haberdish down the street, is the architect.
Layout: The 165-seat restaurant will have four distinct zones with different design themes.
The main dining room, toward the front of the house, will feature old postcards and photographs, and the home’s original floors and fireplace.
An indoor bar will overlook the courtyard with garage doors and will celebrate the home’s 1970s era with design centered on memories of family vacations at popular Southeastern destinations.
The back dining room theme is “bohemian botanist,” with lots of hanging plants, greenery and clay pots. Local artist Kyle Mosher will create a NoDa water tower mural made out of old newspapers in this room.
Out back, the courtyard will be home to the Drunken Handyman, an outdoor shed-style bar decorated with a hodgepodge of collectibles like rusted fishing poles and an old NASCAR sign.
Food: On the menu, expect “elevated comfort food” with a number of healthy options suitable for vegan and gluten-free diets. Chef Chris Coleman, a Chopped champion and the former chef at Stoke and the Asbury, will lead in the kitchen.
Three-story beer garden with 375+ taps and rooftop bar
Opening: Late January 2020 in South End near Craft
Overview: The sprawling three-story bar is shooting for at least 375 taps, which will likely be a Guinness World Record. The South End venue with a rooftop bar, 1300 S. Tryon St., will be the first sister site to the Raleigh Beer Garden.
RBG: The original Raleigh Beer Garden, which opened in Glenwood South in 2015, has earned global press and three Guinness World Record titles for its mind-boggling selection of beer.
RBG wears the crown for most different beer brands on draft tap (203), most varieties of beer on draft tap (369) and largest tap takeover, which they earned last fall when Wicked Weed commandeered 177 taps.
Taps: The final tap number for Charlotte isn’t set, but they’ll push the limits with upwards of 400 lines. For comparison, Pour, Charlotte’s largest self-serve bar, has 118 taps. Taco Mac, a sports bar chain that recently closed its Charlotte location, had 200.
You can expect to find taps crammed into every inch of available wall space at Charlotte Beer Garden along with some open glass viewing walls to show the inner workings of the complex web of tubing.
Craft cocktail lounge from Josh Patton, the CEO of Wooden Robot
Opening: Late January 2020 in South End near Superica.
Layout: The interior of the space is 750 square feet with 150-square-foot mezzanine and a 400-square-foot patio.
Drink menu: Expect a handful of core drinks with a wider selection of rotating cocktails. They’re still finalizing things, but whiskey, amaros, ports, sherries, and mezcal will be worked into the mix.
Food: They’re working with Pepperbox Doughnuts to offer elevated and creative snacks.
Charleston-based handmade biscuit concept
Opening: Late January 2020 in South End on Tremont near Pins Mechanical
Background: Inspired by her mother, founder Carrie Morey’s goal is to “keep the Southern biscuit-making tradition alive,” and she does that at her Atlanta shop and two Charleston spots. All biscuits are made by hand and are melt-in-your-mouth soft.
Fun facts: Callie’s will unveil a signature biscuit for Charlotte. And unlike the other locations, this spot will have a full King Bean Coffee Roaster coffee and espresso bar, as well as a different menu with more salad, sandwich, and soup options.
Menu: The menu consists of sweet and savory biscuits. Here are some of the most popular flavors.
- Cinnamon – The sweet cinnamon and spice biscuits are dusted with thin layer of sugar that adds a little satisfying crunch.
- Country Ham – The biscuit is filled with fine crispy shavings of country ham.
- Biscuit with jam – Callie’s jams are made by a local jam-maker
- Birthday – Topped with frosting and sprinkles
- Biscuit Bowl – Buttery grits with a biscuit shell
(5) Silverlake Ramen
LA-based ramen concept opening in South End
Opening: February 2020 across from Atherton, in the building formerly occupied by Owen’s
Overview: “Our mission is to serve you affordable food that is made with love,” said local owner Leila Zhu. “Silverlake embodies the free spirit and casual vibe of Los Angeles. Cooked up by two chefs who drove their love for noodles and ramen.”
Silverlake Ramen has six locations throughout California with another seven locations in development or recently opened, including one in Concord Mills.
Menu: Jitaek Lim and Thomas Aono are the chefs behind the menu, which features a combination of authentic and out-of-the-box ramen dishes. Expect appetizers, rice bowls, and ramen created with made-from-scratch ingredients.
(6) Little Mama’s
Mama Ricotta’s sexy sister concept
Opening: March 2020 in SouthPark
Menu: Expect Mama Ricotta’s favorites like their penne alla vodka (my personal favorite) and lasagna, along with new handmade pastas including a variety of ravioli and simple broiled meats. Unlike Mama’s, this spot will not offer pizza, but it will have a mozzarella bar and a bigger emphasis on craft cocktails.
Mozzarella bar: Similar to a sushi bar, Little Mama’s Italian Kitchen & Bar will have a six-seat mozzarella bar. Scibelli and Mama’s executive chef Tom Dyrness are huge mozzarella nerds and plan to offer all sorts to mozzarella dishes.
Outdoor brewery from award-winning D9 team
Opening: March 2020 in Uptown, near Savoy apartments
Quick background: Two engineers and a doctor opened D9 Brewing Company near Lake Norman in 2014, and it quickly gained a reputation for its sour beers.
New concept: Thew new outdoor brewery with a beer garden and concert pavilion will be next to Savoy apartments in Uptown. D9 Uptown will also have a 900-square-foot “indoor craft lounge” serving speciality beers, pastries, and tasty coffee through a partnership with Summit Coffee, an award-winning coffee roaster with cafes in Davidson and Asheville.
Cincinnati-based restaurant serving fried chicken and other classic Southern food
Opening: Early 2020 in South End’s Atherton development near Indaco
Overview: This Cincinnati-based restaurant is known for its fried chicken. It’s popular and respected with a 4.5 Yelp rating, 4.7 Facebook rating, and 4.5 Google rating.
Hot take: It looks like the love child of Leroy Fox, Haberdish, and Price’s Chicken Coop.
Popular: The top three dishes at The Eagle are their fried chicken ($7-$19), fried chicken sandwich ($10), and the braised pork sandwich ($10). The top three cocktails are their Eagled Iced Tea ($9 glass, $34 pitcher), bourbon punch ($10 glass, $38 pitcher), and mule ($10).
Fun Fact: The Eagle is part of the Thunderdome Restaurant Group, which also owns Bakersfield in Dilworth.
10,600-square-foot brewery with Nordic flair
Opening: Early 2020 in Wesley Heights near Lucky Dog
Overview: Traust Brewing Company is taking the 1.5-acre property formerly occupied by an animal pharmaceutical company named Fleming Laboratories. They’ll have a 130-space parking lot and a full kitchen with Scandinavian-inspired and Southern dishes. Plans are to open at 11 a.m. daily.
Scandinavian influence: Expect Northern European design concepts that use natural elements. Scandinavian design is all about minimalism, coziness, and functionality, so think sleek low-lying mid-century modern furniture, natural wood tones and textures, and mostly neutral colors.
Outdoor space: Traust will have a huge wrap-around patio and a hardscaped beer terrace with views of Uptown. There will be an enclosed space for dogs and kids as well.
Beer: “We plan to take on some traditional styles, such as strong ales and stouts, as well as some nouveaux styles, such as hazy IPAs, sours and funky saisons,” founder Eric Stevens says. Ryan Walsh, who previously brewed at Mitten Brewing and Presidential Brewing in Michigan, will serve as Traust’s lead brewing engineer.
(10) Billy Sunday
Chicago-based cocktail bar
Opening: Early 2020 at Optimist Hall
Overview: This Chicago-based bar is known for creative cocktails, rare bottles, and an extensive collection of aged amaro. Expect a mix of signature drinks and new libations inspired by Southern flavors.
Stephanie Andrews, who was the mixologist at Billy Sunday’s original location, will be making the drinks for The Spindle Bar and Billy Sunday Charlotte.
“The opportunity to reimagine the spirit of Billy Sunday in Charlotte has been an incredible experience, along with the chance to create an entirely new cocktail bar from scratch with Spindle,” she said. “We can’t wait to open our doors and start connecting with the local community.”
Charlotte is its second location.
Space: Billy Sunday will have a 1,500-square-foot space at Optimist Hall with an expansive patio; it’ll have 60 indoor seats and 50 outdoor.
Spindle Bar: Also at Optimist Hall and from the Billy Sunday team, Spindle Bar is already open with an 18-seat bar and small, curated craft cocktail menu.
Agenda related guide: Best cocktail bars in Charlotte, right now
Indian street food restaurant
Opening: Early 2020 at Optimist Hall
Overview: The Indian street food concept comes from James Beard-nominated chef Meherwan Irani.
“My mission with Botiwalla is to bring the streets of India to life — the glowing charcoal sigris, the sizzling meats, the aromas of chaat masala — in the most delicious way possible,” said Irani. “I want to blow away people’s preconceived notions about what Indian food is and show them what it can be.” Expect Indian street food inspired by the tea and kabab houses of India.
This will be Botiwalla’s third location. Must-try items will include a lamb burger, chicken tikka roll, masala smashed potatoes, and SPDP puffs (flour crisps filled with potatoes, cilantro, and onion).
Beverages: For something boozy, go with the white sangria slushy. This wine-based fruity frozen beverage is perfect for those hot summer nights and for cooling down after some hot Indian food.
Other unique non-alcoholic beverages include: “Mango Lassi,” a yogurt-based drink made in house that is a sweet combination of mango and cardamom; “Pineapple Turmeric Soda,” pineapple and turmeric with fresh lime juice and soda water for a refreshing twist; and “Lime Ricky,” mix of raspberry syrup, lime juice and soda water.
(12) Boxcar Betty’s
Charleston-based fried chicken sandwich concept
Opening: Early 2020 at Optimist Hall
Overview: Boxcar Betty’s first opened five years ago in Charleston; it now has four Charleston locations and one in Chicago. They’re best known for gourmet fried chicken sandwiches made from all-natural, cage-free and antibiotic-free meat with delicious toppings.
“Whenever I am in Charleston, Boxcar Betty’s is my go-to lunch spot, so I look forward to being able to enjoy a delicious chicken sandwich in my hometown,” Erik Johnson, co-founder of White Point Partners, said.
The menu: Expect chicken sandwiches, classic Southern side dishes, salads, desserts, and a kid’s menu. Vegetarians can swap the chicken for a fried portobello mushroom cap stuffed with pimiento cheese.
The Boxcar (pimiento cheese, peach slaw, house pickles, and spicy mayo) and the Chicken Not So Waffle (bacon jam, maple syrup, pimiento cheese, and tomato) are customer favorites. You can also build your own sandwich with choice of protein (chicken or mushroom), 11 toppings, and 10 sauces.
Design: It’ll have a farmhouse feel space with reclaimed wood and industrial lighting.
Agenda related guide: Best chicken sandwiches in Charlotte
Italian spot somewhere between Stagioni and Mama Ricotta’s
Opening: April 2020 in NoDa near Wooden Robot
Overview: Paul Verica, the chef and owner of The Stanley, is behind the concept. Orto, Verica says, is “not as high end as Stagioni and not as casual at Mama Ricotta’s, both of which are great restaurants.”
The new Italian restaurant will specialize in house-made pastas and pizzas. “We’ve been testing stuff here at The Stanley,” Verica tells the Agenda.
At Orto, which happens to be the Italian word for “vegetable garden,” look for rectangular, Detroit-style pizza.
Expansion: Don’t expect Orto to be a one-off. If all goes well with this location, Verica and investors hope to “put this concept into a box and reproduce more around town.”
Agenda related guide: Best Italian restaurants in Charlotte
(14) Fire Box
Pizza spot from chef Michael Shortino
Opening: Spring 2020 in South End
Overview: Michael Shortino, the chef behind Futo Buta and Lincoln’s Haberdashery, is opening a pizza spot in South End. It’ll be at 322 W. Bland St., in the same development as Lost & Found.
New brewery and restaurant concept from Legion Brewing
Opening: Spring 2020 in South End’s Atherton near Indaco
Overview: Expect indoor and outdoor seating, a second-floor mezzanine, and patio with unobstructed views of Uptown Charlotte.
“I love South End, and to be able to bring the Trolley Barn Fermentory to this hip vibrant area of Charlotte is so exciting,” said Legion Brewing owner Phil Buchy. “The Atherton Trolley Barn is right on the Rail Trail, providing great pedestrian access with its walkability to multiple neighborhoods in Charlotte, making this a prime location to enjoy great beer and food with friends.”
Name: The name comes from our city’s electric trolleys that began operating in 1891 and ran to neighborhoods like Dilworth, Myers Park, and Elizabeth.
Casual restaurant from Bardo team
Overview: Unlike Bardo, which is known as a special occasion date night restaurant, VANA will be more relaxed, with a focus on daytime dining, including brunch.
They expect to pull in an expanded clientele with the more laid back, family-friendly approach. And yes, VANA will even have televisions for game-day action — although the team is striking a balance on just how many.
Just like at Bardo, the kitchen will be a major focal feature in the restaurant — wide open with all the action on display. The initial floor plan shows seating for 66 including a bar and a chef’s table.
Food: Chef Michael Noll is building out a Spanish-inspired tapas menu centered on rustic wood-fired cooking for everyday dining.
Noll says to expect the same quality of food you know at Bardo but presented in a more approachable format. Dishes will include a mix of small plates along with some larger family-style options for sharing. And we should all be excited about the fact that they’re building out their own wood-burning pizza oven.
Drink: Behind the bar, Amanda Britton plans to play off the kitchen’s wood-burning theme with a focus on barrel-aged spirits like whiskey and mezcal.
She says that doesn’t mean all the drinks will be heavily spirit forward; you can expect a mix of both refreshing and robust cocktails. Signature offerings will include in-house barrel-aged cocktails, draft cocktails, and a house shot called the Mountaineer Fast Car, a play on the Ferrari shot popular among bartenders.
(17) Leah & Louise
58-seat juke joint with Southern food and blues music
Opening: Spring 2020 in Camp North End
Overview: The 58-seat, full-service restaurant from Chef Greg and Subrina Collier, the husband and wife team behind Uptown Yolk, will specialize in Southern food and blues music.
Menu: It’s not finalized yet, but you can expect hoecakes, chicken skins, ham hock jam, and other staples in the South.
The inspiration: The Colliers hail from Memphis, and the concept draws from Southern culture, including juke joints, which historically have been an informal gathering place with music, dancing, and drinking.
Massive new restaurant and bar from Restoration Hardware
Opening: Summer 2020 at SouthPark’s Phillips Place development
Overview: A 41,000-square-foot Restoration Hardware design gallery with a rooftop restaurant will take the space formerly occupied by Dean & Deluca in SouthPark’s Phillips Place shopping center.
If you’re unfamiliar with Restoration Hardware, it’s a home furnishings company out of California. They have about 70 stores around the country, but only a handful of “design gallery” stores that also have chic restaurants and bars — and now Charlotte will join cities like New York and Los Angeles with a massive RH design gallery.
Rooftop restaurant: A statement from the developer said to expect “spectacular views of the Charlotte skyline.” RH restaurants focus on brunch and dinner, and entrees include items like their signature burger ($24), broiled salmon ($32), lobster roll ($31), and charred ribeye steak ($48). The small menu also includes appetizers and salads, all around $20. It’s pricy, but dishes are familiar and approachable.
Why it matters: As retail gets more experiential, it’s cool that our city is landing concepts like this. Expect this to completely change the 1990s vibe at Phillips Place — maybe it’ll become SouthPark’s version of South End’s Design Center or Atherton.
New concept from Haberdish opening in a former Plaza Midwood church
Opening: Summer 2020 in Plaza Midwood
Overview: Supperland is the latest restaurant and cocktail bar concept from the owners of Haberdish, Crepe Cellar, Growlers Pourhouse, and Reigning Doughnuts.
Husband and wife restaurateurs Jeff Tonidandel and Jamie Brown have been eyeing the location for three years and finalized the lease on 1212 The Plaza in March.
The corner lot is directly across the street from Whiskey Warehouse and includes two buildings totaling 7,500 square feet of space.
Space: The landmark 5,250-square-foot church, built in 1952, will serve as the main dining room and 2,250-square-foot back building dating back to 1936 will be a craft cocktail bar. Ample outdoor space with a garden and patio will front The Plaza.
The dining room will seat about 100 with a chef’s counter overlooking an open-fire show kitchen at the front of the building in the former church chancel. They’ll have no gas or electric appliances, opting instead to feature an all-fire operation where dishes will be finished before table delivery. The remaining kitchen prep, fryers, stoves, storage, and office space is in the basement along with a wine cellar.
Menu: Chef Chris Rogienski, former sous chef at Haberdish, will lead the kitchen at Supperland with a Southern menu that draws inspiration from traditional church potluck picnics.
Tonidandel says to expect thoughtfully sourced proteins, quick-charred vegetables, and shareable family-style sides. A similar simplified menu will be available in the adjacent cocktail bar.
Drinks: Haberdish bar manager Colleen Hughes will run an ambitious craft cocktail bar in the adjacent back building.
Her cocktail menus stand out for their complexity, hard-to-find ingredients, creativity, relevance (rolling out a Prohibition-era menu on Repeal Day or a tiki menu for the summer, for example), and presentation. And her use of flowers frozen in ice, edible confetti, and other eye-catching garnishes make for an extra Instagrammable experience at Haberdish that’s ahead of the curve in town.
Restaurant, oyster bar, and cocktail bar with an “ice chef”
Opening: Summer 2020 at South End’s RailYard development
Overview: STIR will serve lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch along with fresh oysters from their signature raw bar. Their expansive cocktail program features more than 350 spirits.
Menu: The menu includes oysters, ceviche dishes, appetizers ranging from salmon cakes to fried green tomatoes, soups and salads, sandwiches, and primarily seafood-based entrees. Some highlights include the scallop & shrimp white cheddar mac & cheese, shrimp and grits, and filet with house crab ravioli.
Dishes at the Raleigh location start around $7 and most are under $30.
Ice: The main attraction behind the bar at STIR is their elaborate in-house ice production managed by an “ice chef.”
They start with huge 300-pound blocks of ice that are hand cut into seven different styles specially suited for different drinks, including cubes, spheres, crushed, shaved, and pebbled.
Agenda guide: Best places to eat Oysters in Charlotte
(21) Ruby Sunshine
New Orleans-inspired, all-day breakfast joint
Opening: Summer 2020 in South End near Lost & Found
Ownership: “We’re looking forward to introducing the Charlotte community to Ruby Sunshine and the New Orleans flair that our restaurants are famous for,” owner Jennifer Weishaupt told the Agenda. The restaurant, which will be the first Ruby Sunshine location to open in North Carolina, is the latest concept from the Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group — the collective behind the acclaimed New Orleans-based eatery Ruby Slipper Café.
Design: The historic building being redeveloped by Whiteside Properties will allow seating for 187 guests both indoor and on a patio.
Menu: The menu will be similar to the Ruby Slipper Café with fresh and local ingredients.
Expect staples like BBQ Shrimp & Grits, Eggs Cochon Benedict and Bananas Foster Pain Perdu. Don’t sleep on the cocktails either, like the featured Brandy Milk Punch and Morning Margarita, as well as mimosas and bloody Marys.