Unless anyone has been living under a rock, it should come as no surprise that Charlotte has an impending major arrival in the Asian cuisine restaurant scene.
CO, the Vietnamese word for “feast,” is a restaurant offering pan-Asian fare that originated in Charleston and has since grown to include locations in Savannah and Myrtle Beach.
CO recently made our list of “The 14 most anticipated fall restaurant openings in Charlotte” and is slated to open in late November to early December in Park Road Shopping Center next to the Omega Sports.
I loved chatting with owner and founder Greg Bauer. Food lovers, take note: Not only is the man himself a dynamic force who cares deeply about CO, but also this opening could be one of the biggest developments in the authentic Asian cuisine world (with modern and American accessibility) here in Charlotte.
Bauer estimates he will be at the location in Park Road Shopping Center 95 percent of the time and will remain so until the restaurant is fully up and running to his satisfaction. He’s committed.
Perhaps his attention to detail stems from his upbringing – he was born and raised in Germany until the age of 11, then eventually went on to join the U.S. Marine Corps where he was stationed throughout Asia. His exposure to Asian cuisine, initially from time spent in Singapore and Japan, ignited a passion to travel, learn and share as much as possible about the flavors and culture he encountered.
Bauer also has a strong sense of authenticity, both to the cuisine and to the community surrounding each restaurant. CO has tapped local architecture and design firm, D3 Studio’s Scott Betzold to collaborate on the Charlotte restaurant’s plans and interiors. In addition to Scott, D3 Studio’s Director of Interiors, Laura Hoover, played a key role in shaping the space.
The group’s emphasis on interior design is an inherent part of the CO restaurants.
The website even goes so far as to state, “Our atmosphere is as much a part of the CO brand as the food,” defined as, “Sleek, industrial design coupled with indie music and fun staff.” Though 4343 Park Road has yet to be finished, the other CO locations and D3 Studio’s work with businesses like VBGB, I Love Juice Bar, 204 North, Midwood Smokehouse and Block & Grinder, indicate a huge potential to thoroughly shake up the Charlotte scene.
Here’s a look inside…
According to Bauer, the restaurant will have both indoor and outdoor space, though the 30 seats outdoors with plans for a covered patio will open some time after their first day of business. The interior, which covers roughly 3,500 square feet, will house 100 seats.
Hungry diners can expect pan-Asian cuisine with fresh ingredients and herbs, along with house-made sake infusions, fresh fruit- and herb-infused “coolers,” and a Vietnamese Iced Coffee spiked with Cathead Pecan Vodka for $12.50 (the vodka is free of artificial flavors and made by macerating pecans from Bass Pecan in Mississippi).
CO group’s Executive Chef Tarquino Vintimilla Ortiz will stay at the Savannah location, but has personally trained Charlotte’s Chef de Cuisine Tuan Nguyen, a Vietnamese American with strong ties to CO’s authentic style of cooking. Bauer confirmed that CO will offer the full pan-Asian menu in addition to two supplemental menus with vegan and gluten-free specialties and modifications.
Keep an eye out for more updates on CO’s progress. We won’t miss the chance for a hot bowl of pho or their popular pork and ginger gyoza dumplings.