Everything we know so far about 17 tenants opening at Optimist Hall this summer

Everything we know so far about 17 tenants opening at Optimist Hall this summer
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Optimist Hall, formerly known as Tompkins Hall, is a transformative mixed-use development just outside Uptown in the Optimist Park neighborhood.

The $60 million redevelopment of an old mill will include 83,000 square feet of office space that will be occupied by Duke Energy, a 22,000-square-foot food hall with about 20 vendors and an additional 32,000 square feet of anchor restaurant and outdoor space.

via Google Maps

Construction progress as of November 12

If you’re familiar with Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market in Atlanta, UrbanSpace in New York City or Morgan Street Food Hall in Raleigh, you can get a pretty good idea of what to expect here.

It’s going to be incredible, and it’s coming sooner than you think. Look for openings to begin Summer 2019.

Here is a running list of all the Optimist Hall tenants that have been announced so far.

Food Hall

Aix Rotisserie

Concept: A legit French rotisserie from the team behind Aix en Provence.

Who’s behind it: Aix en Provence owners Bryan St. Clair and Patrick Garrivier

How big is their space? 500 square feet

Archer Paper Goods

Concept: Fine stationery and supplies like greeting cards, books journals and gifts. They’ve got locations in Atlanta, Athens and Dallas.

Who’s behind it: Dan Collier

How big is their space? 2,258 square feet


Concept: Traditional Neapolitan pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven. Ava’s flagship location is a full-service restaurant in Tampa’s Hyde Park neighborhood, but their satellite market stall, which opened earlier this year at Armature Works’ riverside Heights Public Market, is more like what we’ll be seeing in Charlotte. Ava at Armature features nine pizzas priced about $8-$15 each.

Who’s behind it: Michael Stewart and Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon

How big is their space? 502 square feet

Ava Charlotte menu

Bao + Broth

Concept: Ramen and bun shop from the chef behind Good Food on Montford’s wildly popular steamed buns. It will join the lineup of powerhouse Charlotte restaurants under the Moffett Restaurant Group umbrella, including Good Food, Stagioni and Barrington’s.

Who’s behind it: Larry Schreiber, executive chef at Good Food on Montford

How big is their space? 560 square feet

Steamed bun

Bao + Broth menu

Billy Sunday

Concept: Award-winning Chicago cocktail lounge with an elevated bar menu of snacks, small plates and sweets.

Who’s behind it: Matthias Merges

How big is their space? 1,450 square feet

“Tea Time” – Ransom dry gin, singani, lime juice, Bendictine, amchur bitters and black tea syrup served in a cocktail bag

The Dumpling Lady

Concept: Popular local food truck serving authentic Sichuan cuisine, including handmade dumplings, noodles and dim sum.

Who’s behind it: Executive chef Qian Zhang and sous chef Bea Vang

How big is their space? 500 square feet


Felix’s Handmade Empanadas

Concept: Local food truck serving authentic sweet and savory Argentinian empanadas, entraña (skirt steak with chimichurri) and milanesas (breaded and fried cuts of chicken, pork, and steak).

Who’s behind it: Felix Godward

How big is their space? 323 square feet

Honeysuckle Gelato

Concept: Southern-inspired gourmet gelato served up in scoops, shakes and sandwiches. Look for flavors like lemon raspberry crumble and bourbon pecan praline priced $3.50 for one scoop, $5 for two scoops, $5 for sandwiches and $6.50 for shakes. Can’t wait to try it? Find it by the pint at local stores like NoDa Company Store, Rhino Market, Reid’s Fine Foods and all area Whole Foods.

Who’s behind it: Jackson Smith, Wes Jones and Khatera Ballard

How big is their space? 665 square feet

Papi Queso

Concept: Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches from one of Charlotte’s most beloved food trucks. They tried their hand at a brick-and-mortar operation with a short-term take over of Sycamore Brewing’s kitchen in late 2016, but Optimist Hall will be their first permanent home off the road.

Who’s behind it: Brian Stockholm and Shelley Odom

How big is their space? 645 square feet

Pet Wants

Concept: Health food store serving slow-cooked small-batch food for pets.

Who’s behind it: Carmen Larreynaga

How big is their space? 500 square feet

Suárez Bakery and Barra

Concept: Popular Park Road Shopping Center bakery adding a second location with expanded offerings. Executive Chef Rodolfo Montero will lead the expansion into new savory menu offerings, including lunchtime bowls, sandwiches and tapas along with their Instagram-famous pastries and desserts. They’ll also have Cuban-style coffee along with beer and wine at night.

Who’s behind it: Carlos Suárez and his sons Carlos Jr. and Jesse

How big is their space? 1,000 square feet

Milanese sandwich

Undercurrent Coffee

Concept: Full-service coffee bar with a focus on sustainable sourcing. Their flagship cafe and coffee lab is located in Plaza Midwood.

Who’s behind it: Todd and Erin Huber

How big is their space? 500 square feet

Village Juice Co.

Concept: Winston-Salem-based cold pressed juice company serving local, organic, plant-based food. The food menu includes smoothie bowls, salads, grain bowls and fancy toast.

Who’s behind it: Brittany Cohen

How big is their space? 500 square feet

Zukku Sushi

Concept: Like Ava above, Zukku (which translates to “canvas”) has a location at the Heights Public Market at Armature Works in Tampa. The menu features signature sushi rolls ($11-$14), sashimi and nigiri ($6), sushi burritos ($11.95-$16.95) and poke bowls ($13.95-$16.95). Or you can choose to customize your own blank canvas bowl or burrito with a selection of eight proteins, eight dressings and sauces and 20-plus toppings and finishes.

Who’s behind it: Ferdian Jap

How big is their space? 525 square feet

Anchor Spaces


Concept: Indian street grill from the four-time James Beard-nominated chef behind Asheville’s wildly popular Chai Pani. The menu features grilled meats, flatbreads, fresh herbs and wraps along with homemade ice cream and boozy slushies. The original location is in Atlanta’s Ponce City Market and a second is on the way in Alpharetta.

Who’s behind it: Meherwan Irani

How big is their space? 2,227 square feet

Fonta Flora Brewery

Concept: Morganton-founded brewery with a focus on local agriculture. This will be a huge expansion for them into the Charlotte market and will feature a tasting room and a giant outdoor space.

Who’s behind it: Michael Kren

How big is their space? 2,400-square-foot tasting room; 5,000-square-foot outdoor patio and lawn

El Thrifty Social Club

Concept: Casual entertainment destination with Mexican-inspired food and craft cocktails, DJs and interactive games like pelota, Belgian feather bowling, foosball, ping pong and snookball.

Who’s behind it: Reid Olsen and Joe Lariscy, the team behind Queen Park Social

How big is their space: 6,391 square feet

Agenda story: Queen Park Social owners bringing El Thrifty Social Club to Optimist Hall


Vendors are still being announced. All of this adds up to one hell of a destination for Charlotte and a perfect example of adaptive reuse.

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