Feb 11, 2016 - News

Joe Hooper’s in Plaza Midwood will reopen under new ownership as Moo & Brew

Owners Ken Thomas and Zach Current want their new restaurant in Plaza Midwood to be known for two things: Beer selection and burgers.

After months of build-up, the two have just announced the concept behind the restaurant that will replace Joe Hooper’s on Central Avenue — Moo & Brew. They’re hoping for an opening date in March.

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They’ve brought in a professional chef from Sullivan’s Steakhouse to come up with the burger menu, with $7 to $10 being the typical price. The restaurant will also serve chicken wings and sandwiches and $3 to $4 side items to share.

Here’s a look at some of the burger concepts.

They plan to have a robust pickling program and also to do all their condiments in-house: chili, pimento cheese and sauces.

As for the beer, Cesar Leyva of CheersCharlotte is helping them come up with a lineup. They’ll have 32 taps, with half being regular staples and the other half rotating seasonally. There will be a local contingent, but also good craft beer from other parts of the country. And probably PBR too — Moo & Brew will be a UNC bar and is in talks to bring blue cups from famous Chapel Hill bar He’s Not Here for a special.

Moo & Brew wants to become a neighborhood staple. Current lives just a few blocks away. That’s also influenced pricing decisions. The initial idea was to go grass-fed and upscale on the beef, but that would have made burgers a lot more expensive. They want this to be a place for families (there will be a kids menu and maybe stroller parking) and a place where people can come multiple times per week.

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“This neighborhood deserves something great,” Current said.

The two guys behind Moo & Brew know what they’re doing. Thomas runs the AvidXChange Music Factory and Current used to run Fuel Pizza.

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They had teased the opening of the restaurant with the tongue-in-cheek itsnotacondo.com, and spent the winter having friends over for $3 beers and a limited menu. They also booked private events there over the holidays.

But it will look a whole lot different once it opens after the renovations they have planned.

This rendering is pretty underwhelming, but it doesn’t reflect some of the major projects planned for the propery. The eastern side (facing Chief’s Smoke Shop) will be pushed out and constructed with walk-up ordering windows surrounded by a beer garden. The front deck will be covered as well. They’re bringing in some art to the interior.

“People who went to Joe Hooper’s will walk in and say, ‘Wow, they did something special,'” Thomas said.

The restaurant is the more permanent manifestation of the Moo & Brew Fest that drew a big crowd to the N.C. Music Factory last year. The event is scheduled for year No. 2 this April. Forty local and regional breweries poured beers and restaurants competed for the “best burger” title — which went to Bang Bang Burgers.

It will also be the anchor of Central Crossing, a retail center its owners want to position as the neighborhood services hub for the 1,000+ apartments under construction within a quarter mile. Fu Man Chu Cupcakes is already there, and a boutique nail salon has already signed a lease. There could be a beer shop coming soon.

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