Dec 1, 2023 - Food and Drink

Scoop: Chef Sam Hart of Counter- opening Italian restaurant and speakeasy in Uptown

Spaghett Morrison House

Spaghett will be located inside the historic Morrison House in Fourth Ward. Photo: Courtesy of Sam Hart

Spaghett, a pasta and cocktail house, will open next year in the former Poplar Tapas & Wine spot in Fourth Ward.

If all goes well, the Italian restaurant will open in June 2024, according to owner Sam Hart, who’s been cooking up this idea for about a year.

Why it matters: Hart, owner and chef of Counter- in west Charlotte, is one of the most prominent figures in Charlotte’s restaurant scene.

  • Earlier this year, he was *this close* to bringing home Charlotte’s first James Beard Award as the second Charlotte chef ever to reach the final round of the prestigious culinary awards.

Details: The two-story restaurant will specialize in traditional Italian dishes and handmade pastas. It fits about 50 to 60 people across its main dining room, private dining room, outdoor patio and upstairs bar.

  • Spaghett will be affordable, according to Hart, who says pasta dishes will be in the $12 to $18 range and cocktails will range from $12 to $16.
  • “We want to keep it approachable for families [or] college kids looking for late-night bites,” Hart tells Axios.
  • Spaghett will have two bars, one downstairs and “The Upstairs,” a speakeasy located (you guessed it) upstairs. The Upstairs will have its own menu with small bites and will only serve cocktails and spirits from 1908 and earlier, a nod to the historic house the restaurant is located in, also known as the “Morrison House.

Flashback: Hart is especially excited about the restaurant’s location, a space they’ve been eyeing for more than a decade.

  • “It’s got such a unique history to it and it’s a one-of-a-kind building, not only for the area but all of Charlotte,” Hart says.
  • When Poplar’s announced its closing earlier this year, Hart immediately called their broker, Matt McLanahan, who had scouted about ten possible locations for Spaghett this year.
Spaghett Morrison House
From left to right: General manager Kristoph Marczinkowski, Partner Executive Chef Sam Hart and Partner Audra Harman. Spaghett is the third restaurant in the Irreverently Refined Hospitality Group, where every member of the executive staff has an ownership stake in the restaurant and group. Photo: Courtesy of Sam Hart

Zoom out: Hart’s known for bringing innovative culinary concepts to Charlotte. Counter- is an immersive tasting menu experience, where everything from the restaurant’s music to its ingredients are interconnected to tell a story, narrated by Hart.

  • Counter-‘s sister restaurant Biblio recently closed. The reverse-wine pairing restaurant, where you pick the bottle of wine you want and the chef curates a meal based on your selection, was open for a year.
  • In its place, an intimate dining room will open inside Counter- called “Archive.” Archive will be a seven-course tasting menu that’ll start at $90 per person with beverage pairing options.

Go deeper: 5 things to know before eating at Counter-

What’s next: When it opens, Spaghett will be open seven days a week; 5-11pm Sunday through Thursday and 5pm to 2am Friday and Saturday.

  • Eventually, the restaurant will also have a cigar lounge in the back and a uniquely stocked bar.
  • “We want to have the largest Amaro collection around, period,” says Hart, who is taking inspiration from The Office in Chicago, known for its collection of Chartreuse Liquor.

Go deeper: Get ready for Counter- 3.0. Charlotte’s popular tasting menu restaurant is switching it up


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Charlotte.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Charlotte stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Charlotte.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more