Axios Charlotte

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February 05, 2024

Happy Monday. It's Alexandria. Hope you're ready for lots of restaurant news.

โ›…๏ธ Weather: Partly sunny. High around 58ยฐ.

๐ŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Charlotte members Jennifer Matz and Teddy Koch!

Today's Smart Brevityโ„ข๏ธ count is 896 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: ๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿณ How the "OGs" are faring

Beef 'n Bottle opened in 1958. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

Beef 'N Bottle part-owner Rick Bouman wants to put a rumor he's been hearing to rest: They aren't selling or closing.

  • "That's just malarkey," Bouman tells Axios. "We want to keep going for another 64 years if we can."

Why it matters: Not far from the unassuming steakhouse on booming South Boulevard, some of Charlotte's most renowned older restaurants โ€” like Zack's Hamburgers and Price's Chicken Coop โ€” have closed.

  • In a city where everyone's looking for the best new thing, diners worry their favorite restaurant could be next to go.

What's happening: Many of Charlotte's staple eateries are actually on the upswing, the owners tell me. Beef 'N Bottle sales grew by 18.3% in 2022 and nearly 10% in 2023.

  • In Fourth Ward, Alexander Michael's just had its best year on record since opening in 1983, owner Steve Casner says.
  • "This is the first year where I felt like, maybe, we're out from underneath the shadow of the pandemic," he adds.

What they're saying: Frank Scibelli has built an empire of Charlotte restaurants over the last three decades; perhaps most notable is his first, Mama Ricotta's. The secret to outlasting the new competition, he says, is simple: Don't change what your customers love.

  • "You're not curing cancer. We're selling food, right? Food, service and atmosphere. And do a great job," he tells his staff.

Yes, but: That doesn't mean operators aren't making savvy business decisions behind the scenes. Restaurants routinely adapt to challenges in the industry, some of which stem from the pandemic.

Keep reading

2. ๐Ÿด Charlotte's oldest restaurants

Cajun Queen opened in 1985. It's known for New Orleans-inspired food and live jazz. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

While we're on the subject, we've updated our list of the oldest restaurants in Charlotte.

Why it matters: It's easy to overlook the classics. Charlotte's longstanding restaurants helped make the city's food scene what it's grown to be today. Often new restaurants draw inspiration from the originals.

  • Updating this list was a little sad. We had to delete Charlotte's oldest restaurant, Green's Lunch, which opened in 1926 and closed last year, Axios' Laura Barrero writes.

See the full list

3. ๐ŸคŒ Authenticity in south Charlotte

Soda gembira, aka happy soda ($6) โ€” cocopandan syrup, jelly, condensed milk and Fanta. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Pivoting to some new business news: An Indonesian restaurant by the owner of Prime Fish recently opened in the Arboretum, Laura writes.

Why it matters: Nusa is Charlotte's first Indonesian restaurant, according to owner Robin Anthony.

  • Chef Robin is originally from Indonesia and has tapped Indonesian native Hendra Tjiey to lead the kitchen.

Zoom in: Unlike Anthony's other restaurants, Nusa has a more fast-casual vibe.

  • You'll find traditional Indonesian dishes like beef rendang (braised beef) and "gado gado," an Indonesian salad made with boiled vegetables, boiled eggs, fried tofu and tempeh, topped with peanut sauce dressing.
  • They serve daily lunch specials that come with rice, sauce and two small sides for $12.

Read the full story

4. ๐Ÿฝ๏ธ Bobby Flay's coming to SouthPark

Bobby Flay. Photo: Courtesy of Champion

Bobby Flay is bringing his popular burger restaurant chain Bobby's Burgers to Charlotte, Laura writes.

Why it matters: The SouthPark location, expected to open this spring, will also serve as a test kitchen where Flay will create new recipes.

  • Plus, local restaurateur Frank Scibelli (of Mama Ricotta's, Calle Sol and Midwood Smokehouse) is investing in the project and will be an adviser.

Details: The new restaurant will be located in The Towers at SouthPark, a two-building office complex at 6000 Fairview Road.

  • Its menu will have seven types of hamburgers, a fried chicken sandwich and a veggie burger using a winning recipe from the "Beat Bobby Flay" TV show.

Full story

Sponsored job listings

Fresh job openings

๐Ÿ’ผ See which top Charlotte companies are hiring.

  1. Director of Development at Diaper Bank of North Carolina.
  2. Firefighter at Town of Matthews.
  3. Director of Advancement Communications at Queens University of Charlotte.
  4. Food and Beverage Supervisor at Blumenthal Arts.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

5. ๐Ÿ—ž Social district update and other speed reads

The social district will stretch along Central Avenue, from Sip City to Morningside Pub. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

๐Ÿฅค Signs went up in Plaza Midwood this weekend informing passersbys about the boundaries and rules of the social district โ€” an area where people can sip on alcoholic drinks in the streets. (Axios)

๐Ÿ€ Charlotte men's basketball is first in the American Athletic Conference. The team made program history Saturday as the first to win eight consecutive conference games in a season. (Charlotte 49ers)

๐Ÿซ Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is reporting fewer guns found on campuses after installing weapon scanners. Other districts are seeing increases. Statewide, the number of guns rose by 24%. (WFAE)

6. ๐Ÿ˜‹ What we ate last month

Axios' Bri Crane and I agree it's criminal we both just had our first visits to Lang Van. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

In January, our team found some new favorite dishes around the city, from African cuisine near NoDa to a killer steak deal in Elizabeth.

  • I tried Lang Van: The east Charlotte staple known for its Christmas light displays and authentic Vietnamese food.
  • It also has an extensive menu. I was with an indecisive and open-minded group of four. Noticing this, our server swiped our menu and served a spread of their staples: pho, Vietnamese pancakes and noodles. It ended up being just under $30 a person and, as expected, delicious.

See the full list

Sponsored messages

๐ŸŒ€ The loop (we're keeping you in it)

News you can use from our partners.

  • ๐Ÿ“– Book lovers, this one's for you. Read Charlotte just unveiled a new mural at Morris Costumes on Monroe Road, a collaboration between artist Scott Nurkin and third-grade students. It promotes the impact of families reading together.

7. ๐Ÿ’˜ Before we go, your plans for the week

Billy Sunday's Valentine's Day pop-up will run through Wednesday, Feb. 28. Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

It's the month of love โ€” and there's plenty to do besides a white tablecloth dinner. Axios' McKenzie Rankin has rounded up 19 events in our weekday planner, including:

๐Ÿ–ค Experience Billy Sunday's Valentine's Day pop-up all week long. |Free | The pop-up is happening through Feb. 28. | Details.

๐Ÿ”ฎ Practice your tarot card reading skills during "tarot Tuesday" at Devil's Logic Brewing. | Free | 7-9pm | Details.

๐ŸŽบ Hear the sounds of Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan and more at "House of Funk," a Wednesday series by Middle C Jazz. | $30 | 7pm | Details.

๐ŸŽ‰ Celebrate Mardi Gras on Thursday with New Orleans-inspired dishes at State of Confusion. | Free | 5pm | Details.

๐ŸŽจ Create an individual art piece that will assemble into a larger artwork at Art Plus' Gestalt! class. | $40 | 6-8pm | Details.

See the full weekday planner

โ› Add this word to your Charlotte dictionary: Fearneville.

  • It's what Charlotte basketball fans have dubbed the space outside Halton Arena, where they camped out Saturday before the sold-out game versus East Carolina. The name is a nod to head coach Aaron Fearne.

๐Ÿ™ Many thanks to Katie Peralta Soloff for editing this newsletter and Lucia Maher for copy editing.

Editors' note: This newsletter has been corrected to show Alexander Michael's is located in the Fourth Ward, not Dilworth.