Optimist Hall, a transformative mixed-use development just outside Uptown in the Optimist Park neighborhood, is now open.
What: The $60 million redevelopment of an old mill includes 83,000 square feet of office space occupied by Duke Energy, a 22,000-square-foot food hall and an additional 32,000 square feet of anchor restaurant and outdoor space. 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.
Address: 1115 N. Brevard St.
Hype: Food & Wine named the highly anticipated food hall one of the biggest summer restaurant openings in the country.
Hours: The food hall will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Note that Undercurrent Coffee will open early at 7 a.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Opening lineup: Tenant openings will be staggered in roughly three phases. The first phase opened August 1 and included Bao and Broth, Undercurrent Coffee, Honeysuckle Gelato, Pet Wants, Zukku Sushi and Spindle Bar. (See below for all remaining target opening dates.)
Big picture: More than two-thirds of the planned tenants for Optimist Hall have moved in, with a handful that have yet to open as of early December 2019. When it’s all said and done, Optimist will have more than 19 tenants, ranging from natural dog treats and healthy smoothies to funky tacos and steamed buns.
Optimist Hall’s historic mill building, once one of the largest producers of gingham textile in the country, dates back to 1892 and features nods to the past in everything from the paint color to original flooring and fire doors.
The hall’s signature seafoam green paint matches the building’s original interior color and original walnut floors show wear and tear from the old spinning machines. Reclaimed windows and new gingham screens create dividers between cozy seating nooks and some of the tables are made with reclaimed heart pine.
They’ve even got their hands on an old Highland Park Manufacturing Co. safe they plan to have cracked open.
The hall has total interior and exterior seating for about 650 plus ample courtyard, patio and lawn space.
The layout is basically a giant U with the food hall in the left arm and base, anchor restaurants and retail along the right arm and a central courtyard in the middle. (Yes, the courtyard will be dog friendly.)
Not all food stalls will open immediately. Here are the target openings for and details on all 19 confirmed Optimist Hall tenants.
- Bao and Broth – Ramen and bun shop from Larry Schreiber, 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.
- Undercurrent Coffee – Todd and Erin Huber’s full-service coffee bar with a focus on sustainable sourcing. Their flagship cafe and coffee lab is located in Plaza Midwood.
- Honeysuckle Gelato – Southern-inspired gourmet gelato served up in scoops, shakes and sandwiches. Look for flavors like lemon raspberry crumble and bourbon pecan praline.
- Pet Wants – Carmen Larreynaga’s health food store for pets serving slow-cooked, small-batch dog and cat food
- Zukku Sushi – Customizable sushi, sushi burritos and bowls
- Spindle Bar – Casual tap with a Southern front porch party vibe from the team behind anchor bar Billy Sunday. They’ll be serving draft cocktails, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages and will also have a renovated Italian Piaggio truck that’ll serve as a cocktail and beer kiosk.
- Papi Queso – Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches from one of Charlotte’s most beloved food trucks created by Brian Stockholm and Shelley Odom.
- The Dumpling Lady – Executive chef Qian Zhang’s popular local food truck is putting down roots for their authentic Sichuan cuisine, including handmade dumplings, noodles and dim sum.
- Village Juice Co. – 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.
- Ava – Traditional Neapolitan pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven from Michael Stewart and Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon.
- Archer Paper Goods – Fine stationery and supplies like greeting cards, books journals and gifts. They’ve got locations in Atlanta, Athens and Dallas.
- Velvet Taco – Funky fast-casual restaurant chain based out of Dallas with a globally inspired taco menu; Agenda Guide.
- El Thrifty Social Club – Reid Olsen and Joe Lariscy, the team behind Queen Park Social, present a casual entertainment destination with Mexican-inspired food and craft cocktails, DJs and interactive games like pelota, Belgian feather bowling, foosball, ping pong and snookball.
The final few tenants that have yet to open as of December 9, 2019 include:
- Billy Sunday – Award-winning Chicago cocktail lounge with an elevated bar menu of creative and classic cocktails.
- Aix Charlotte – French rotisserie from former Aix en Provence owners Bryan St. Clair and Patrick Garrivier.
- Suarez Bakery and Barra – 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.
- Fonta Flora Brewing – 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.
- Botiwalla – 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. Agenda Guide.
- Felix’s Empanadas – Felix Godward’s 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).
- Boxcar Betty’s – The Charleston-based gourmet fried chicken sandwich concept features 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.