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.
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 initial openings to begin early 2019.
Here is a look at all the Optimist Hall tenants that have been announced so far.
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 SF
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, 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 9 pizzas priced about $8-$15 each.
Who’s behind it: Michael Stewart and Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon
How big is their space? 502 SF
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 SF
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 1 scoop, $5 for 2 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 SF
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 SF
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? 1000 SF
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 SF
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 8 proteins, 8 dressings and sauces and 20+ toppings and finishes.
Who’s behind it: Ferdian Jap
How big is their space? 525 SF
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
There are about 10 more food stalls yet to be announced as well as 3-5 additional anchor restaurants. All this adds up to one hell of a destination for Charlotte and a perfect example of adaptive reuse.
Katie Levans Loveluck contributed to this article.