I’ll be honest, when I first heard about the new American comfort food restaurant named Rusty Bucket opening in South Park, I was like – meh, sounds like an Ohio version of Applebee’s.
Then, my inbox blew up by several midwesterners who were freaking out about Rusty Bucket. People whose judgement I trust. They were thrilled that the restaurant is expanding to Charlotte.
So I worked the interwebs and local PR pro Hailey Cobb setup a coffee meeting with Rusty Bucket’s founder Gary Callicoat and marketing director Kate Sumption when they were in Charlotte last Thursday. We met at Park Road Shopping Center’s Bruegger’s / Caribou combo.
Here are the answer to your questions.
(1) What is Rusty Bucket?
They describe themselves as “your friendly neighborhood restaurant and tavern.” Rusty Bucket was born in Columbus Ohio and currently has 23 locations (including a few that are under construction). They’re big into “casual + fresh” and “bringing the white table cloth experience into a casual setting.”
(2) What’s the last beer Gary drank?
Haha. I could tell that I threw him off with this question and he was deciding whether to be honest or not. Love that he choose honesty – Budweiser. Respect.
(3) When does the restaurant open?
Late September or early October. Located across the street from Dogwood and behind the Whole Foods in SouthPark. Here’s a few construction photos.
(4) Future relationship of Charlotte and Rusty Bucket?
Hopes to have 6 – 7 restaurants in this area and are currently investigating Huntersville and Ballantyne. I asked specifically about an Uptown location, but their model is not built for urban settings right now (although they’re working on this). Gary was all about “giving back to the community.” I could tell he thought it was the right thing to do and also the right strategic decision for the brand.
(5) Rusty Bucket’s most popular dishes?
Fish and chips. Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. Fresh pizza. Hand pattied burgers. You get it – fresh, American comfort food.
(6) What’s the bar going to be like?
24 beers on tap, including local. Rusty Bucket also has a “cocktail program” and takes their cocktails seriously. Most popular adult drinks include their house margaritas and the Pink Gin Fizz.
(7) Why did Gary choose to come to Charlotte?
He’s been stalking our city for 3 – 4 years and described our local real estate mogul, Peter Pappas, as a friend. Gary loves Charlotte’s growth and sees some comparisons to his hometown of Columbus. Sounds like Peter is his local go-to guy for location opportunities.
(8) When Gary visits Charlotte, where are his favorite places to eat?
Gary loves Dressler’s and Cowfish – he’s a big fan of Cowfish’s tuna nachos (Chef David Lucarelli must love this). Gary and Kate also went to the Punch Room last Thursday night for some cocktails. Hope our bartender buddy Bob Peters treated them well.
(9) Why the name Rusty Bucket?
Love this story. Gary had a big dinner party over at his house in Columbus and asked people to write names on post it notes and hang them on the wall. Hundreds of names all over the wall. Some appropriate some inappropriate (as the night went on). Narrowed it down to a hundred. Then narrowed it down more. Then got to Rusty Bucket.
(10) Which hotel does Gary stay at when he comes into Charlotte?
SouthPark Marriott. He’s a member of the Marriott Rewards Program.
(11) Is Rusty Bucket a bar or a restaurant?
They love families and kids. Evidence? They have a bookworm program where for every five books a kid reads, they get a free meal. In terms of breakdown, they’re roughly 80% food and 20% beverage.