Sep 1, 2020 - Food and Drink

Now open: 30+ exciting openings from the past six months (yes, even in a pandemic)

leah and louise

leah and louise

Our Now Open series is proudly presented by Charlotte Center City Partners. New businesses are part of what makes Charlotte great but don’t forget to take some time to say hello again to the people and places that made us fall in love with our city in the first place. Check out + to find even more spots to explore.

Even in a pandemic, restaurants and shops are opening in Charlotte. Is it the ideal time to launch a new business? No. But these entrepreneurs are making it happen anyway.

I’ve been surprised with the steady flow of restaurant and retail news throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Despite financial setbacks and heart-breaking closures, Charlotte is resilient, especially when it comes to its small-business owners.

Still to come: We’re only in September. There are still exciting openings to come. Summit Seltzer, a hard seltzer brewery and taproom, is opening this fall. Harriet’s Hamburgers is next up in Optimist Hall. Orto, by The Stanley chef Paul Verica, and Haberdish team’s Supperland are both under construction now. And The Original Hot Dog Factory is planning an opening this fall.

[Related Agenda guide: The 24 most anticipated new restaurant, bar, and brewery grand openings of 2020]

Here are 30+ new restaurants, breweries, shops, and food stalls that opened in the midst of a pandemic.

(This list is in no particular order. If you choose to dine out or shop in-person, do so safely — wear a mask, practice social distancing, etc. Due to the ongoing pandemic, hours and menus may vary. Call before you go.)


Leah & Louise

Camp North End’s first restaurant has already garnered national attention for chef Greg Collier’s dishes inspired by the Mississippi River Valley foodways

What to order: At least once a week, I crave Leah & Louise’s Tang tart called Arthur Lou ($7) with an oatmeal crust, ginger meringue, and rotating dried and fresh fruit. Then there’s Leah’s Cabbage ($8) — slow-roasted cabbage so tender you can run your fork through it. I’ve had nearly everything on the menu over three separate visits, and I’ve never had a bad dish (or drink; shoutout to mixologist Justin Hazleton).

Location: 301 Camp Road. Inside Camp North End, next to what will soon be Free Range Brewing’s second location.

leahlouise-campnorthend the colliers greg subrina
Greg and Subrina Collier also own The Yolk in 7th Street Public Market.

Read more: Leah & Louise, Camp North End’s first restaurant, is now open

Little Mama’s

Mama Ricotta’s sister concept, with a cocktail program run by Brian Lorusso and Charlotte’s first mozzarella bar

Background: Restauranteur and owner Frank Scibelli calls Little Mama’s a “prequel” to Mama Ricotta’s, a Charlotte staple since it opened in 1992. The new Italian-American restaurant is a representation of the restaurants Scibelli and partners Stephanie Kalish and Tom Dyrness remember dining at while growing up in the northeast in the ’60s and ’70s. And you can see that in the details at Little Mama’s — old-school booths, decades-old family photographs, and the “mozz bar.”

Mozzarella bar: Similar to a sushi bar, Little Mama’s has a six-seat mozzarella bar where guests have a view of the kitchen happenings. The mozz bar will serve a rotating selection of mozzarella, including Fior di Latte ($7), Stracciatella ($8), or a made-to-order fresh ball of mozzarella with two accompaniments ($21).

Location: 521 Sharon Rd., Ste. 175. The 3,600-square-foot restaurant is located across the street from SouthPark mall.

mozz bar little mamas southpark

Read more: Little Mama’s, Mama Ricotta’s sister concept, is now open in SouthPark


From the talented Bardo team, VANA opened in South End in August

Menu: VANA’s menu is rustic with a mix of tapas-style dishes and larger sharable plates like a 36-ounce tomahawk ribeye and a whole fish, which rotates seasonally. Many dishes are cooked on the fire hearth and in the pizza oven (!). The price point is a little lower than at Bardo, with dishes ranging from $7-$78.

Drinks: Behind the bar, mixologist Amanda Britton plays off the kitchen’s wood-burning theme with a focus on barrel-aged whiskey and agave spirits. For summer, expect Britton’s cocktail menu to be refreshing. There’s also a “shot ski,” a ski you and a friend can take a shot off of. There will also be beer and wine available.

VANA food bone marrow
Chef Michael Noll’s bone marrow is served with an onion marmalade.

Read more: VANA, a new restaurant from the team behind Bardo, is now open in South End

Food stalls

Between Camp North End and Optimist Hall, eight stalls (including one Airstream camper) have opened since spring

Camp North End:

  • La Caseta – Featuring flavors of El Salvador, Mexico, Venezuela, and Argentina, inspired by the team members’ diverse family traditions.
  • Saru – Ramen shop from New York-based Bow Ramen.
  • Bleu Barn Bistro – Farm-to-table food stall serving burgers, tacos, and more.
  • Popbar – Custom gelato and sorbet popsicles from the same owners as the Popbar in NoDa.
  • Black Moth Bars – Cocktail bar using locally sourced ingredients and operating out of an Airstream camper.

[Related Agenda guide: User’s guide: Camp North End, the growing development near Uptown, now home to 40+ cool tenants]

Optimist Hall:

the boxcar from boxcar bettys
The “Boxcar” from Boxcar Betty’s with pimento cheese, peach slaw, house pickles, and spicy mayo.

Krispy Kreme

The North Carolina-born doughnut chain just installed its first-ever doughnut vending machine in South End

What to expect: In addition to Krispy Kreme’s classic offerings, guests can expect an expanded menu with things like scoop sandwiches (Krispy Kreme’s take on the classic ice cream sandwich) and hand-spun milkshakes made with doughnut-infused ice cream. “Being home to our Global Product & Innovation Center, Charlotte is near and dear to our hearts, so we’re treating our neighbors to special experiences they won’t find at any other Krispy Kreme location,” Simard says.

Location: 2116 Hawkins St. Next-door to the new Insomnia Cookies.

Scoop Sandwich Krispy Kream
Ice cream and doughnuts in one — introducing the “scoop sandwich.” Sorry, it’s not available via the vending machine.

Read more: Krispy Kreme is now open in South End with a 24-hour vending machine

Grand Bohemian Hotel

The new luxury Uptown hotel is home to two new restaurants, and a bar on the way

Mico: Located on the ground floor, Mico is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It offers South American-inspired dishes with Mediterranean influences, including a signature Wagyu Delmonico steak.

The Bohemian Garden: Expect grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, and drinks along the new pocket park.

Búho: The rooftop bar and restaurant will have its own elevator. It will be open evenings on Tuesday through Saturday (closed Monday and Sunday). Expect craft cocktails such as an aloe vera mojito and smoked old-fashioned, along with sharable small plates such as scallop crudo and Devil Shoal oyster shots. The rooftop will have fire pits, and Búho will host DJs on the weekend. It hopes to open once North Carolina moves to phase three.

Grand Bohemian Mico spread
Spread from Mico at the Grand Bohemian Hotel.

Read more: See inside: Grand Bohemian Hotel is now open in Uptown, along with 2 restaurants

Rooftop restaurants and bars

Charlotte gained a few more rooftop options this year, including two in SouthPark and one in Uptown

Cordial: Located at the top of the new AC Hotel in SouthPark, this 5,500-square-foot bar and restaurant has fancy craft cocktails, a European-focused wine collection, and Spanish-influenced small plates to munch on. [Read more: A rooftop bar in new AC Hotel is now open in SouthPark]

RH Charlotte: Covering 50,000-square-feet, the three-story RH Charlotte has a luxe rooftop restaurant that feels like a mix of a palace and a greenhouse. [Read more: The massive, three-story RH Charlotte with rooftop restaurant now open in SouthPark]

From the Cloud Bar, diners have a view over Uptown.

Cloud Bar: The newest of the three, Cloud Bar (formerly Skybar) is celebrity chef David Burke’s first concept in Charlotte. If you’re there to dine, order the bacon. It’s served on a clothesline. [Read more: See inside Cloud Bar, a rooftop bar by celeb chef David Burke]


South End restaurant with oysters, craft cocktails, and artisan ice off to a hot start

What to expect: At just over 6,000 square feet, STIR has courtyard patio seating, roll-up garage doors for walk-up bar access, a private room that seats 50, and an open kitchen. Drinks take time, but that’s because of the ice. Ice isn’t an afterthought at STIR. First, it takes three days to create 300-pound blocks of purified ice by a Clinebell machine. Then the ice is cut into one of seven drink-specific shapes, designed to melt in a way that doesn’t water down the cocktail.

Location: 1422 South Tryon St., Ste. 130. Find it in The Railyard in South End near North Italia and Rhino Market.

STIR south end restaurant Scallop & Shrimp White Cheddar Mac & Cheese
Scallop & shrimp white cheddar mac & cheese ($25.95).
STIR south end restaurant

Read more: Oyster and cocktail bar STIR is now open in South End’s RailYard

Alchemy at C3 Lab

Vegetarian-focused restaurant with an attached art gallery

What to expect: Charlotte native and chef Ken Aponte’s menu is vegetarian focused, but there are still plenty of options for meat-eaters, too. The drink list was created by mixologist Bob Peters, so you know it’s good.

Art gallery: In order to get to the restaurant, you’ll walk through the art gallery, which displays works of C3 Lab’s resident artists and more. The gallery rotates every two months.

Location: 2517 Distribution St. Find it in South End next to C3 Lab.

alchemy c3 lab restaurant ken aponte
Alchemy chef Ken Aponte.

Read more: Vegetarian-focused restaurant called Alchemy at C3 Lab now open in South End

MOA Korean BBQ & Bar

Upscale Korean restaurant located steps from the corner of Trade and Tryon

What to expect: The elegant restaurant with royal blue velvet seating and gold light fixtures is large at nearly 5,000 square feet, but the dining space is broken up into different rooms so it still feels intimate. Owner Sean Kim compares the atmosphere to the classic Uptown steakhouse, but with Korean cuisine.

Tabletop Korean barbecue: Many Korean barbecue restaurants charge an all-you-can-eat rate, but MOA has listed prices for each type of meat. This allows them to get higher-quality cuts like prime ribeye and prime beef brisket. You can buy the meats a la carte ($20-$50) or in combos ($80-$200, feeds 2-5 people and includes sides). Then your server will cook the meat in front of you.

Location: 128 S. Tryon St. MOA is just steps from the corner of Trade and Tryon in Uptown.

bibimbap moa korean barbecue

Read more: Upscale Korean restaurant with tabletop barbecue is now open in Uptown

Skrimp Shack

Popular fried seafood chain has a new Charlotte location on Central Avenue

What to expect: The menu features “samwiches,” po’boys, baskets, and tacos. Not to mention their delicious sides. “Samwiches” range from $6.45 to $12.45, po’boys $9.75 to $11.75, baskets $7.95 to $18.25, and all tacos are $7.45. Sides can be added to each meal and range from $1.50 to $4.95.

Background: Chaz Crenshaw, owner of Skrimp Shack’s Eastway franchise, calls himself the “Skrimp King.” He’s a character, and plays it up on social media. Since he opened the restaurant this summer, he’s formed partnerships with other Black-owned businesses to bring awareness to their work.

Location: 3718 Central Ave. Located on the corner of Central and Eastway.

skrimp shack
Chaz and Wanda Crenshaw, franchise owners of Skrimp Shack on Central Avenue.

Read more: Skrimp Shack on Central Avenue is now open and has a fish “samwich” that’s as big as your face


Members-only dog park and (human) bar in South End with a full pet care facility attached

What to expect: Covering 24,000-square-feet of indoor space and 15,000-square-feet of outdoor space, Skiptown has a splash pad, turf with cooling capability, shaded areas, seating, plenty of space for dogs to run, and a section for small dogs. It also has TVs, a U-shaped bar with 25 taps, and rotating food trucks. Coming soon: A dog-themed mural from Duarte Designs.

Location: 222 Rampart St. Located in South End near Sycamore Brewing.

skiptown drinks

Read more: See inside Skiptown, a 24,000-square-foot dog park and bar, now open in South End

Ruby Sunshine

Breakfast and brunch restaurant with New Orleans roots

Background: In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Jennifer and Erich Weishaupt transformed an old corner store in New Orleans into Ruby Slipper Café. In the years since, the husband-and-wife duo have expanded across the U.S. Ruby Sunshine is a similar concept to the original Ruby Slipper with a focus on breakfast and brunch food.

Location: 322 W. Bland St., across from Seoul Food Meat Company and next to Lost & Found in South End.

eggs benedict ruby sunshine
Eggs Benedict trio

Read more: New Orleans-inspired brunch spot named Ruby Sunshine now open in South End


Background: Formerly on the 27th floor of Hines Charlotte Plaza, Bentley’s on 27, now shortened to Bentley’s, relocated to Piedmont Row in SouthPark this summer. Executive chef James Loftus made the food and drink menu similar to the old Bentley’s Uptown location, with classical French cuisine and some modern touches. “The biggest change is probably that we no longer have the amazing view that we had from the 27th floor,” Loftus says.

Location: 4620 Piedmont Row Dr., Ste. 110. Located in the old Georges Brasserie space in SouthPark.

(Photo courtesy of Bentley’s)

Read more: Bentley’s, an upscale French-American restaurant, is now open in SouthPark after its move from Uptown

Edge City Brewery

The first brewery located in the Monroe Road area

Background: Edge City opened in April during the stay at home order, but the pair still managed to distribute its beer, selling growlers for pick-up.

Location: 6209 Old Post Rd., right off Monroe.

edge city growler

Read more: Edge City Brewery opens in the midst of a pandemic, selling growlers to go

The Auto Pour

Unpretentious, family-run wine bar with 64 wines available via self-serve taps

Wine selection: There are 64 wines by the ounce available to pour — the largest self-pour selection of wine in North Carolina. Pours start at $0.86 per ounce or $12 for a bottle and go up from there. TAP offers some wines from the state as well as wines from across the country and the world. TAP also has 18 taps for beer, hard cider, and hard seltzer.

Location: 5033 South Blvd. Located in Madison Park.

the auto pour interior wine bar
Self-serve wine dispensers are a thing now.

Read more: Self-serve wine bar named The Auto Pour now open in Madison Park neighborhood

BW Sweets

The east Charlotte bakery and desserts bar expanded with a new flagship location in late August — plus they’re adding an express location in South End in September

Background: BW Sweets owner Frankie White moved the bakery’s flagship store three doors down to a larger location. This month, the bakery is also expanding to South End with an express location.

Selection: The bakery will continue carrying the daily dessert bar and will also add ice cream, bread, and cake decorating and baking courses.

bw sweets
A dozen assorted doughnuts from BW Sweets. Bonus: They deliver.

Location: 5820 East W.T. Harris Blvd., Ste. L. (South End location will be at 1425 Winnifred St., Ste. 105).


Fun margarita-focused restaurant in NoDa

Margaritas: As the name suggests, Bargarita is all about the margs. Choose from craft margaritas ($9-$11) like strawberry jalapeño or Champagne lemonade, or order a frozen margarita ($8). There also are tequila flights.

Location: 3221 North Davidson Street in NoDa.

bargarita noda new restaurant bar

Read more: New NoDa restaurant Bargarita is now open with tacos and frozen margaritas


Bakery and market in SouthPark

What to expect: You’ll find classic bakery items like bread and breakfast pastries, as well as grab-and-go options like seasonal salads and sandwiches. Plus a selection of cheeses and charcuterie, produce, wine, family meal packages, and more.


Location: 6601 Morrison Blvd.


RH Charlotte

Shopping: The first two floors at RH (Restoration Hardware) are dedicated to home furnishings and interior design. On the first floor you’ll find RH interiors collection, along with staged rooms to see the furnishings in action. The second level is home to RH modern, the store’s modern furnishings collection, as well as the interior design studio with professional services available for hire.

restoration hardware RH charlotte

Location: 6903 Phillips Place Ct. Located in SouthPark.

Micro-storefronts at Centro Railyard

A new shopping strip below the Centro Railyard apartments in South End featuring “micro” storefronts

  • CLT Boutique – Boutique offering women’s clothing, shoes, accessories, and kids’ clothing.
  • Glory Days Apparel – Charlotte-themed clothing and accessories for men, women, kids, and pets.
  • The Cactus Club – Plant shop, which started from a mobile store.
  • Outlaw Hair Co. – Hair studio.
  • Five13Studio – Women’s clothing and apparel shop.
  • You Got Swank – Men’s and women’s apparel.
  • olpr. – Handmade leather goods.
Founder JD Harris started Glory Days Apparel in his home garage. The mural behind Harris is painted by local artist Darion Fleming (@daflemingo).

[Related Agenda guide: Shopping guide: Micro-retail storefronts now open at Centro Railyard in South End]

New retailers at Camp North End

thats novel bookstore camp north end
Alyssa Pressler (right) operates That’s Novel Books, which is attached to Hygge, a coworking space owned by Garrett Tichy (left).

OMJ Clothing

Local clothing brand opened its Design Center storefront in South End

What to expect: The men’s clothing company was founded in Charlotte in 2013. It offers ready-wear and custom men’s clothing — from T-shirts to suits to face masks. “While this is certainly not the ideal way and time to open a store, we are thrilled to finally be open in such an amazing location,” co-owner Bradley Rhyne says.

omj face masks coronavirus
Face masks at OMJ.

Location: 1930 Camden Road, Ste. 125.


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