January 17, 2023

Hello, Tuesday! It's Alexandria.

☔️ Weather: Cloudy and rainy, with temperatures in the 50s.

🎂 Happy birthday to Axios Charlotte members Ryan Dunlevy and Lynn Pitts.

Today's Smart Brevity™ count is 983 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Much ado about Chick-fil-A traffic

The line for Chick-fil-A around 12:30pm on Friday. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

For journalistic purposes, I braved the Cotswold Chick-fil-A drive-thru on Friday to see what the traffic fuss was all about (and also because I was hungry).

  • I was in line on Randolph Road for four minutes as cars shuffled lanes behind me to get around. By the 16-minute mark, I had a chicken sandwich combo and was back on the road.

Driving the news: Tonight, Charlotte City Council will consider a rezoning that Chick-fil-A says will help prevent cars from spilling onto the street.

The fast-food joint plans to tear down its restaurant and rebuild as a drive-thru-only establishment that will ideally get cars in and out quicker.

  • The redesign would include a third lane to bypass the drive-thru.

Yes, but: Not everyone is convinced that renovations will fix the traffic issues. Also, approving the rezoning would signal that the city isn't as committed to pedestrian friendliness as it has led on.

One opponent is Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Braxton Winston. He's challenged claims that renovating the Woodlawn Road Chick-fil-A to drive-thru-only has helped ease traffic in that area.

  • "This is something to aid their business model," Winston tells Axios. "It is not good for the community."

Why it matters: Charlotte’s desire for a more walkable, multi-modal city is sometimes at odds with consumer demands and most residents' dependence on cars.

  • “We have to decide,” Winston says. “Are we going to be a city defined by suburban development? Or are we going to honor the commitments to create different types of appropriate urbanism?"

City planning staff acknowledge that Chick-fil-A's redesign is out of line with Charlotte's written goals. But they see it as a reasonable request because the restaurant already exists and operates this way.

  • Chick-fil-A is promising to contribute $70,000 toward installing a traffic signal at a nearby intersection.

Full story: Chick-fil-A’s proposed solution to Cotswold traffic leaves city grudgingly considering another drive-thru

2. 🤬 Stat du jour: The time we spent in traffic is... depressing

My daily drive to the gym, during which I think about how I need to move within walking distance of it. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

Speaking of gridlock, Charlotte traffic stole more than a whole day — 25 hours — of our lives in 2022.

  • What's more: Charlotte saw a 19% increase in city center trips from 2021 to 2022. That's the fourth-largest jump in the world, behind only Cologne, Germany; Berlin; and Washington D.C., per an analysis by INRIX.

Why it matters: People are returning to office work, here faster than most other cities. But we're still nowhere near prepandemic levels.

  • Charlotteans lost 49 hours of their lives in traffic in 2019, before the big drop to 18 hours in 2020.

State of play: We ranked 45th in the U.S. for time lost to congestion in 2022.

  • Time spent stuck behind the wheel cost each driver $426, according to the transportation data and analytics company's calculations.

Zoom out: At least we aren't Atlanta, which clocked 74 hours. But Raleigh (😩) did better — if you can even say that — at 14 hours.

3. ⏰ It's fun o'clock

Hi-Wire Brewing in South End. Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

It's a short week for some of us, but we can still fit in the fun. Axios' McKenzie Rankin has a lineup of Charlotte happenings this week:

🍺 Tonight, join Hi-Wire at 7pm for free drag queen bingo.

🎺 Tomorrow, continue the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration with Charlotte Symphony's "Together We Rise." The 7:30pm show is at Queens University. Tickets start at $10.

🎨 Thursday, channel your inner Van Gogh at beSocial's Afternoon Art Jam. The free event kicks off at 2pm.

🤠 Friday, see country singer Drew Parker live at Coyote Joe's. Doors open at 7pm. Tickets start at $10.

Full weekday planner

Fresh job openings around town

💼 Take your career to the next level and see who’s hiring.

  1. Front Desk Coordinator at Pearl Dentistry Reimagined.
  2. CVICU Nurse Manager- Atrium Pineville at Atrium Health.
  3. Construction Accounting Assistant at Doerre Construction Co., LLC.
  4. Administrative Assistant at Davidson College.
  5. Corporate Controller at Trifecta Services Company.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

4. Belmont taproom closes, and other speed reads

RePour did not explain its reason for closing. Photo: Axios Charlotte archives

🍺 RePour, a taproom at Charlotte’s Innovation Barn, has closed. (CBJ 🔒)

🏛 Mecklenburg County leaders will hear from residents on how they want their tax dollars spent during a meeting Wednesday. (Mecklenburg County)

  • The public budget hearing starts around 6:30pm in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.
  • You can sign up to speak here.

🍽 A legend in Charlotte's dining scene, owner of McNinch House Restaurant Ellen Davis, has passed away. (Instagram)

🚗 A friend of House Speaker Tim Moore says that Moore's criticisms of Charlotte's transportation plan last week were because of his frustration with this Axios article and strongly opinionated urbanists on the internet. (WFAE)

🏡 A friendly reminder: The county assessor's office has delayed mailing home revaluations until mid-March, allowing more time to examine sales data from the cooling housing market. (Ledger 🔒)

5. 🛍 All the world is your runway

Laura says the personal stylist picked out a few pieces she never would have thought to choose herself. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

SouthPark mall is bringing back its personal shopper program after a two-year hiatus, Axios' Laura Barrero writes.

How it works: The first three hours of shopping are complimentary. Each additional hour costs $115.

Before the shopping begins, fashion expert Suzanne Libfraind gets to know you. “I talk to them about their life, their goals, their budget, their likes, their dislikes,” she tells Axios.

Then, she’ll either shop on your behalf or walk through the mall with you, picking out different pieces and creating outfits for you to try on.

  • Plus: If you'd like, Libfraind will go to your house and sift through your closet, so she knows what she’s working with before you shop.

Read about Laura's shopping experience

Stay booked and busy

📆 Check out what’s going around Charlotte.

  • Real Talk About Homebuying – Is it a Good Time to Buy? at Resident Culture SE on Thursday: Join them for beer, tacos and the real talk on what to expect from the housing market in 2023. Their panel of local real estate and mortgage experts will answer your questions about today's market and the home buying process. Leave with confidence in your personal home-buying journey goals. Free.
  • Designer Warehouse Sale at Showroom on Saturday: Shop designer clothing and accessories from Victoria Beckham, Ganni, Rachel Comey, Anine Bing, and more for up to 70% off retail price. $25+.
  • Designing Success with American City Business Journals on January 27: Experience stories from experts, learn about their transition and best practices in leadership, and what skills you need to build design culture at your organization. Designing Success will bring together creators, makers, builders, thinkers, directors, and visionaries to share and inspire the future of visual communication. $125 non-members.
  • Valentine’s Day Event at Pleasant Grove Farm on February 1: Enjoy an evening of live music, bouquet creations, venue tours and permanent jewelry with Bonded Charlotte. Complimentary charcuterie and bubbles provided. Featuring Bonded Charlotte, Twin Blooms, Table and Board Charcuterie, Tipsy Traveler and The Fiddler and the Flutist. Pleasant Grove Farm is located 8 miles from Uptown Charlotte. Free (with additional fee for Bonded Charlotte).
  • Caroline Calouche & Co. Rouge at Booth Playhouse February 17 - 19: Expect the unexpected from comedy to thrills, circus artists and dancers will entertain you cabaret-style. You will see acts featuring breakdancing, contemporary dance, Cyr Wheel, Aerial Straps and much more. Rouge is the perfect Valentines gift or friends night out. Enjoy our Rouge specialty cocktail during the show with Tito's Handmade Vodka. Enjoy 15% off with promo code. $30-$45.
  • Charlotte’s Dog Jog presented by LendScout at McAlpine Creek Park on March 4: Walk, jog or run this family-friendly and fur-friendly 5k. Whether you love running with your dog or appreciate being around other people’s dogs, this race is for all. $30-$35.
  • Volunteer Opportunity at Charlotte schools: ALP is recruiting reading tutors for the 2022-23 school year. Tutors work with students in 1st-3rd grades who are at least one year behind in reading in under-resourced areas. ALP provides training and support for all tutors.

Want more things to do? Check out our Event Board.

Hosting? Purchase an Event Listing.

6. 🎶 Sounds like North Carolina

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Axios' Brianna Crane worked with our teams in Raleigh and Charlotte to create a playlist of songs by some of N.C.'s most famous artists.

  • Our playlist, with 30+ N.C. artists, covers all the hits, from Eric Church to John Coltrane.

💭 My thought bubble: A few of these have immaculate vibes.

  • "No Role Modelz" by J. Cole (I recently heard this performed at karaoke and was shocked at how good of a choice it was)
  • "Freek-A-Leek" by Petey Pablo (a certified banger)

💭 Bri's thought bubble: Several North Carolinians are responsible for songs that altered my brain chemistry, including:

  • "Carolina in My Mind" by James Taylor (the only song to play driving by the Old Well)
  • "I And Love And You" by The Avett Brothers (a song so beautiful I cry)
  • "Red High Heels" by Kellie Pickler (it spoke to my 11-year-old soul in 2006, somehow)

🎧 Listen here

💪 Are you still following your New Year's resolution? I recommend this strength training app to anyone who will listen. I've used it for two years now and it's changed my life.

This newsletter was edited by Kayla Sharpe and copy edited by Lucia Maher.