This article was last updated on December 15, 2020.
What’s opening soon in Charlotte? Here’s a quick breakdown of the 17 most anticipated new restaurants, bars, and breweries opening in the next six months.
Coronavirus has delayed nearly all projects this year. Everything — from construction to the liquor license — takes longer in a pandemic. But there are still some exciting openings to come.
Expansions: The list below only includes new concepts to Charlotte. It doesn’t include big expansions like Ace No. 3 opening two new locations, LuLu’s adding a second location in Plaza Midwood, or Dilworth Tasting Room expanding to SouthPark.
Recent openings: Even during a pandemic, a few heavy-hitters have joined Charlotte’s food and beverage scene.
- Summit Seltzer Co. opened in Wesley Heights, expanding the brewery scene to include spiked seltzer.
- Krispy Kreme’s test kitchen opened in South End with a donut vending machine.
- Coined the “Whitewater Center for dogs,” Skiptown also opened its dog-friendly bar and dog park in South End.
- Biggest brewery opening of 2020: Protagonist opened its second location in the former Great Wagon Road distillery in Lower South End. The space is massive and so are the pizza slices.
- Camp North End added four food stalls this year, and the north Charlotte complex also got its first restaurant: Leah & Louise by Greg and Subrina Collier, which was named one of Esquire’s best new restaurants in the U.S.
Here’s our list of the most anticipated, order by opening date (not ranked).
(1) Kounter (now open)
Restaurant by Kre8 Twisted Eats chef in the historic McCrory’s Building in Rock Hill
Opening: Tuesday, December 15 in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
History: In 1961, 10 African-American college students walked into McCrory’s Five and Dime in downtown Rock Hill and sat at stools along the lunch counter. They were arrested after refusing to leave. Nine of the students, who became known as the “Friendship Nine,” refused to pay bail and became the first sit-in protestors to serve jail time during the Civil Rights movement.
Chef: Rob Masone, a restauranteur and chef best known to Charlotteans for Kre8 Twisted Eats at Wooden Robot Brewery, grew up in Rock Hill and used to drive by the historic McCrory’s Building every Sunday morning for church as a child.
(2) Botiwalla (now open)
Indian street food restaurant
Opening: Soft opens December 15, 2020 at Optimist Hall. Grand opening is Thursday, December 17.
Overview: The Indian street food concept comes from James Beard-nominated chef Meherwan Irani. 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. Other non-alcoholic beverages include pineapple turmeric soda and mango lassi, a yogurt-based drink made in house that is a sweet combination of mango and cardamom.
(3) Summit Coffee
Popular Davidson coffee shop’s first Charlotte location
Opening: The grand opening is Saturday, December 19 in NoDa next to 36th Street Station. The soft opening is Wednesday, December 16.
Background: Summit Coffee Co. started on Main Street in Davidson in 1998. A location opened on the campus of nearby Davidson College in 2013 and in downtown Asheville in 2017. “We always wanted to take a crack at Charlotte,” co-owner Brian Helfrich says. Summit artistic director and Brian’s wife, Tyler Helfrich, used to live in NoDa so the couple had been looking to expand into the neighborhood for years.
Coronavirus pivot: In March, when all Summit locations shut down, the company pivoted with a temporary coffee drive-thru in an old Wells Fargo bank in Davidson. The primary goal of the drive-thru was to keep their staff employed, but the business took off, lasting 10 weeks and drawing lines of cars.
Brian says without the drive-thru, this expansion into Charlotte probably would not have happened. “It ultimately helped save the business.”
Late-night: In Davidson, Summit is known as being a hotspot not only for morning coffee, but for evening beers and live music. While the NoDa location is smaller, it’ll also have evening entertainment (once it’s safe to do so) and a beer and wine menu.
(4) Steak 48
Fancy steakhouse and extensive build-out in SouthPark
Opening: December 18 in Apex SouthPark, a new development on the corner of Sharon Road and Morrison Boulevard.
Concept: Steak 48 is a modern update to the classic American steakhouse experience with locations also in Houston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. The layout is “a collection of intimate spaces,” says Oliver Badgio, chief brand officer. The centerpiece is an exposed kitchen with floor-to-ceiling glass walls surrounded by dining on three sides.
Menu: Expect quality cuts of steak including USDA Prime and Wagyu beef and creative appetizers and side dishes, like their Alaskan king crab, rock shrimp mac and cheese, or crispy shrimp deviled eggs. Here’s a quick taste of steak prices to give you an idea on price point: NY strip (12 ounces/$42), bone-in filet mignon (12 ounces/$58), and bone-in ribeye (22 ounces/$59).
Italian spot somewhere between Stagioni and Mama Ricotta’s
Opening: Aiming for a December opening in NoDa near Wooden Robot’s Chamber
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.”
Menu: Look for Verica’s square pizza, which is based off of his favorite pizzeria from outside of Philly, where he grew up. Pasta will be “seasonally driven” and made in-house, Verica adds.
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
(6) The Vintage
Upscale whiskey bar and cigar lounge
Opening: December 2020 in Dilworth
Background: Before it was an Iron Tribe Fitness, the gray-painted brick building was an auto body shop owned by Michael Jordan’s father, James Jordan. Now, the 3,400-square-foot building will get new life.
Vibe: The Vintage will be a private members-only club. It’ll be styled as an upscale, Prohibition-era lounge with plenty of plush sofas and big wooden common tables.
New concept from Haberdish team in a former Plaza Midwood church
Opening: Early 2021 in Plaza Midwood
Overview: Supperland is the latest restaurant and cocktail bar concept from Jeff Tonidandel and Jamie Brown, owners of Haberdish, Crepe Cellar, Growlers Pourhouse, and Reigning Doughnuts.
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.
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.
Soon-to-be Uptown’s only brewery with a giant outdoor beer garden from award-winning D9 team
Opening: January 2021 in Uptown, near Savoy apartments.
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. In June 2020, D9 announced it would move all of its production to a facility 40 miles northwest of Charlotte in Newton. A taproom remains in Lake Norman. D9 is also opening a new taproom in Hendersonville.
New concept: D9 will operate a 900-square-foot indoor “craft lounge” taproom and an expansive outdoor beer garden in Uptown’s Second Ward next to Savoy apartments.
(9) The Jimmy
Opening: Aiming for February 2021 in Myers Park.
Concept: The Jimmy is named after what friends and family call owner Jim Noble. The restaurant will be open all day, and it’s inspired by the trattorias and bistros found along the Mediterranean coastline in Italy and France.
Menu: Offerings will include coffee and pastries by Copain in the morning and light Mediterranean-inspired dishes at lunch. For dinner, expect Neapolitan-style pizzas, handmade pastas, and more.
(10) A to-be-named concept at the Mint Museum Uptown
After Halcyon closes in December, the same team will open a new international tapas restaurant in the space
Opening: By February 14, 2021, in Mint Museum Uptown.
Concept: Expect an international tapas-style menu with influences from Morocco and India through chef Jonathan Moore’s Southern lens. It’ll still source ingredients locally, including from the restaurant’s own “victory garden.” The look will be more contemporary with a colorful mural and modern artwork that tie in with the museum.
Outdoor dining: The restaurant’s balcony just got cooler with the addition of greenhouse dining pods for warmth and social distancing.
Fresh Mediterranean grill coming to Optimist Hall
Opening: Early 2021 in Optimist Hall
Restaurant: Mezeh, which specializes in a “Western interpretation of Mediterranean foods,” will be in a 2,300-square-foot restaurant space next to Botiwalla.
Menu: Mezeh’s menu includes cage-free and grass-fed proteins such as lamb and chicken kebab, that are also free of hormones and antibiotics, according to a statement from Optimist Hall. Its menu also has create-your-own bowls, wraps, and pitas. If you can’t wait, Mezeh also has a new location in Strawberry Hill which opened this fall.
(12) Vaulted Oak Brewing
Introducing the most Charlotte thing ever: a brewery inside an old bank
Opening: February 2021 in east Charlotte on Monroe Road
What to expect: The 4,000-square-foot brewery will repurpose certain old elements of the bank, including the vault door, pneumatic tubes, and the drive-up teller area, which will turn into a patio area with a walk-up window.
Beer: Vaulted Oak will focus on small-batch beers from an array of styles — such as sessionable blondes, lagers, west coast IPAs, sours, saisons, and porters. The brewery will also have a selection of wine and cider.
(13) The Exchange at 36th
Part-market, part-bar in the heart of NoDa
Opening: Early 2021 in NoDa on 36th Street
What to expect: Owner Kevin Samuel, who’s the chef at Bistro La Bon, says The Exchange will be a casual hangout with a bar and a place where people can pick up quick pantry essentials. The 1,400-square-foot market is Samuel’s first of two projects on 36th Street. Next door to the market is a 3,800-square-foot space that he plans to turn into a restaurant before the end of 2021.
Cincinnati-based restaurant serving fried chicken and other classic Southern food
Opening: Early 2021 in South End’s Atherton development near Indaco. Opening plans are up in the air due to the pandemic.
Overview: This Cincinnati-based restaurant is known for its fried chicken. Local owner Brian Riggenbach of the Thunderdome Restaurant Group is also behind Bakersfield in Dilworth.
Menu: The top three dishes at The Eagle are the 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).
New brewery and restaurant concept from Legion Brewing
Opening: Early 2021 in South End’s Atherton near Indaco
Overview: Expect indoor and outdoor seating, a second-floor mezzanine, and patio with unobstructed views of Uptown.
“I love South End, and to be able to bring the Trolley Barn Fermentory to this hip vibrant area of Charlotte is so exciting,” Legion Brewing owner Phil Buchy said. “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.
(16) Xiao Bao
Legendary Charleston-based Asian restaurant coming to Optimist Hall
Opening: Spring 2021 in Optimist Hall
Menu: Xiao Bao will offer the same favorites you’d find at the Charleston location like the okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese cabbage pancake. The menu will focus on Southeast Asian cuisine, including dishes like pad kra pow (Thai basil chicken stir fry) and som tum (papaya salad). There will also be fried rice, a variety of curries, and other dishes on its rotating menu.
New food hall and Seoul Food Meat Co. location opening along the XCLT trail
Opening: Sometime in 2021. Massive construction projects like this one take time so I wouldn’t expect this to open until fall at the earliest.
What to expect: The Lintmen’s complex will include Urban District Market, a food hall with 12 all-local stalls. Behind the food hall is Seoul Food Meat Co.’s second location coming in at 15,000 square feet.
Note: I removed Fire Box Pizzeria and Traust Brewing Company from this list. Attempts to reach both went unanswered and no construction progress has been made since the pandemic began. Good news for Traust fans, though: Cans are available for purchase here.
All this restaurant talk making you hungry? View all Agenda food and drink guides here.