Wednesday, February 25, 2015

We've moved...

In case you haven't checked out The Observer's snazzy new website launched Wednesday, what better time than now, when you're probably prepping for the impending southern snowpocalypse?

What's In Store has also moved. Follow the link here (link also at the bottom of this post) for the latest on Charlotte's retail happenings. As always, I welcome thoughts, suggestions, comments, etc. Thanks!

Emeril Lagasse's uptown restaurant to close April 26

E2 Emeril's Eatery in uptown Charlotte will close April 26. 

The restaurant from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse said on its Facebook page Wednesday morning that it'll maintain its normal hours for lunch, dinner and happy hour until its closure.  

"We will miss our many friends and partners in Charlotte who did so much to support us," the restaurant said in the post. 

Lagasse opened the restaurant located at 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts in early 2012. It offers a menu full of New Orleans-inspired American cuisine, as well as a gluten-free menu. 

"I have a strong connection to Johnson and Wales," Lagasse told WBTV in a 2012 interview."Also, I saw this spark happening in this community, a food spark, the farm to fork movement was really happening here and this is a place we all decided we should be."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Duckworth's to open massive uptown bar March 2

Duckworth's Grill & Taphouse is slated to open part of its massive new uptown bar March 2.

Actually, the 15,000 square-foot location at Tryon and 7th Streets will be two separate venues.

The first is a typical Duckworth's with flat screen TVs, the same full menu and 150 beers on tap, which is more than the four other Duckworth bars. It's having a soft opening starting Wednesday with limited hours for invited patrons, then will open March 2 if all goes well, said Rob Duckworth, the bar's owner.

The second part will be a new concept for Duckworth's: a basement-level, speakeasy-feeling bar and restaurant called The Cellar. It'll have a limited, "very rustic" and locally-sourced food menu, obscure specialty beers and eventually, a mixologist, Duckworth said.

The Cellar will open at the end of April or the first part of May. 

"It’s going to be a really special place for people who want to enjoy more of a laid-back, relaxed atmosphere and really great beer in a different type of food experience than you would typically get upstairs at Duckworth’s," Duckworth said. 

In total, the new Duckworth's employs more than 100 people between the two floors. 

Given the new venue's location, Duckworth said he's gotten a lot of interest about its opening. 

"Even though we have black plastic on the windows, it's amazing how many people are still walking in," Duckworth said. "The signs are now up, the building is painted, lights are on, so I guess people are very intrigued by the newness of the building."

Rob Duckworth opened the first Duckworth's in Mooresville in 2004 as an ice cream shop. Excluding the new uptown spot, Duckworth's has four other locations, including two in Charlotte. 

“I’m glad ice cream didn’t work out. Beer’s a lot more fun and of course it’s made us who we are today," he said. 

Free chips and salsa Tuesday at most Salsarita's locations

Charlotte-based Salsarita's Fresh Cantina is celebrating National Tortilla Chip Day Tuesday by giving away free tortilla chips and salsa at most of its locations. 

No purchase is necessary to partake, and the offer is limited to one free order "wildly addictive" chips and salsa per customer, the fast-casual Mexican restaurant said.

The free offer is not applicable at the university, airport or corporate campus locations. 

Salsarita's was founded in Charlotte in 2000 and operates stores in 19 states. According to the restaurant's website, there are 17 Salsarita's locations in the Charlotte metro area. 

Also -- apparently -- February is National Avocado Month. Customers can celebrate that also at Salsarita's, which already offers free guacamole with any entree all year round. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Swoozie's to host grand opening promotional event in SouthPark

Specialty gift store Swoozie's is back in Charlotte and will host a grand opening event in its new SouthPark store Feb. 25 through March 8. 

Swoozie's, which held a soft opening in Charlotte late last year, sells a variety of items like stationary, scarves and jewelry. The store features goods from popular brands including Jonathan Adler, Kate Spade and Lilly Pulitzer. 

During its promotional period, Swoozie's will offer discounts and promotions, including 20 percent off all designers, special orders and new merchandise both in store and online. It'll also host a grand opening soiree and wine tasting on March 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. A portion of the day’s proceeds will benefit Girls on the Run Charlotte, a nonprofit program for young girls.

“Over the years, Swoozie’s has become the go-to source for every ‘hostess with the mostess’ and is valued by many as the top authority on entertaining etiquette, trends and gifts,” said Ashley Plank, marketing director for Swoozie’s.

The Atlanta-based retailer previously operated two stores in Charlotte, in Blakeney and Morrison, before shuttering them after the Great Recession. 

The SouthPark store is located next to Moe's Southwest Grill in the Sharon Corners Shopping Center at 4722 Sharon Road, across from SouthPark Mall. 

Swoozie's will host a grand opening promotional event starting Feb. 25

Amélie's French Bakery to open South Charlotte site

Amélie's French Bakery will be opening its newest location in South Charlotte mid-March, a store employee told The Observer.

The new restaurant will be in Carmel Commons, which is across the street from Charlotte Catholic High School at the intersection of Carmel Road and Pineville-Matthews Road. Work on the 5,000 square-foot store began last fall.

Amélie's also has stores in Charlotte's NoDa neighborhood as well as in Atlanta and Rock Hill. The NoDa location, the first Amélie's store that opened in 2008, is known for its quirky decor and round-the-clock hours. Travel site recently rated the NoDa bakery No. 1 in North Carolina.

According to a Facebook post, the new restaurant will have a full kitchen and will serve wine, beer and crepes.

It'll "most likely" have hours similar to its Rock Hill and Atlanta stores, which are open Monday through Wednesday from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., Thursday though Saturday from 7 a.m. until midnight and Sunday from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.

An exact date for the opening wasn't immediately available, but this blog will be updated as more information becomes available.

Interior of Amelie's in NoDa

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tapas and shots lounge in uptown Charlotte coming this summer

Charlotteans will have to wait a few more months for the uptown tapas restaurant and bar that specializes in shots.

Construction for Chupitos, Spanish for "shots," began early last year but was put on hold in mid-December, said Frank Llenas, a co-owner of Optimum Income Property and of the restaurant.

"We’re currently sorting some things out with the current partnership but the project will continue forward," Llenas said.

The restaurant will open "hopefully early summer," he said, and will employ between 20 to 25 workers. Lleras said Charlotte's changing demographics create a ripe business opportunity for Chupitos, described on its active Instagram account as a "chupiteria-tapas-lounge."

“You have to have different concepts to accommodate all the different people moving in from New York and Miami," Llenas said. "We thought it’d be a good idea to start it here due to the fact that we have a high young professional demographic concentrated in the city."

The restaurant will be located at 400 South Graham Street, near the BB&T Ballpark. 

Dunkin' Donuts to open three new Charlotte area stores this year

Dunkin' Donuts has announced it'll open three new stores in the Charlotte area later this year. 

The first store will open this spring in Davidson's newly developed Two Harbour Place, which is at the corner of Griffith Street and Jetton Street.

The other new stores will open in Cornelius later this summer.One will be at 19116 West Catawba Avenue near Magnolia Plaza, the new developed anchored by a Publix that opened earlier this month. The second will be at the new Antiquity Town Center, which is under construction.

Joey Morganthall of MPV Properties represented the Dunkin Donuts franchisee with their site search and lease negotiations, according to a press release from the real estate firm.

New NoDa bar to feature arcade games and craft beer

A new Charlotte bar combines what might be the nostalgic millennial's dream: craft beer and arcade games in NoDa. 

Abari, Charlotte's first arcade bar, will open between NoDa Brewing and Birdsong Brewing in "mid to late April," according to Zach Pulliam, the bar's owner. 

The new bar will feature arcade games from the 1970s through the late 1990s in a slew of categories, from racing and fighting to classics like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Pulliam said he also plans to host tournaments of console games, including Mario Kart on Nintendo 64.

Abari will sell locally made beers from breweries including NoDa, Birdsong, Unknown and Old Meck. Pulliam said he is hiring a bar manager and several bartenders who will also help build out a cocktail menu.

"Charlotte has needed something like this for a while," Pulliam said. "Of course, you have the uptown scene and then you have the NoDa and Plaza Midwood area, but there’s nothing really like this. It’s something I myself really can’t wait to partake in."

Located at 1721 North Davidson, Abari won't serve food but will allow patrons to bring their own. Pulliam said he's also hoping to coordinate with local food trucks to have them serve outside the bar.

Inspired by the arcade bar concept he first saw in Brooklyn in 2004, Pulliam, who works in IT, said opening the bar is something he's "always wanted to do."

Abari in NoDa will feature arcade games from the 1970s through late 1990s.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Walmart hiring up to 95 workers in Morganton

Walmart is hiring up to 95 full-time and part-time workers for its new Neighborhood Market store in Morganton that's slated to open this spring. 

To facilitate the hiring process, the retail giant has also opened a hiring center at 406-A West Fleming Drive in Morganton that'll be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Interested applicants can also apply on Walmart's career site

Walmart also said that it's offering jobs to qualified veterans who have been honorably discharged within the last 12 months. 

According to a statement from the company, Walmart offers, among other benefits, matching 401(k) contributions, health care coverage to full- and part-time associates who qualify and company paid life insurance. 

The Neighborhood Market concept is Walmart's answer to traditional grocery stores. They're typically about 41,000 square feet and offer a variety of grocery items, from meats to frozen foods and produce, as well as pet and cleaning supplies. 

Read more here:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

World of Beer in South End is now Helles & Dunkel

South End visitors may have noticed a change at the bar formerly known as World of Beer.

The bar has rebranded itself and is now Helles & Dunkel, German for "light and dark."

"We just wanted out of the corporate position of World of Beer to be able to be a little bit more creative and do what we want to do," said Rachel Sunderland, the bar's general manager.

The change took effect Monday and wasn't a response to bad reviews or poor sales. In fact, Sunderland said, sales are up about 20 percent from last year. 

World of Beer, a Tampa, Fla.-based chain with dozens of locations across the country, opened in Charlotte in 2012. The newly branded bar is still focused mainly on beer and has 60 rotating taps and 250 bottles, Sunderland said.

Because it doesn't have a kitchen, Helles & Dunkel doesn't serve food. But the bar has expanded its bar offerings to include a full selection of liquor (before it only had a few bottles) and will also have a selection of games, including a shuffle board table, darts and a pin ball machine.

"Basically we had to get everything approved before through corporate. Now we don’t have to do that," Sunderland said. 

The bar is maintaining its same staff and hours. But gift cards for World of Beer, Sunderland said, unfortunately will not be honored at Helles & Dunkel, though there are other World of Beer locations in Raleigh, Cary and Columbia. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chop't to expand beyond Park Road Shopping Center

Chop't Creative Salad Company's newest location in Charlotte is just the first of many to come in North Carolina, according to co-founder Tony Shure.

Transplants to the city may recognized the Chop't name: the company's new Park Road Shopping Center restaurant, which Chop't said last week is slated to open this summer, will be its first location outside New York and the District of Columbia.

"We want to open a bunch in North Carolina," including in Raleigh and Durham, Shure said. Plans are also already underway, he added, to expand into uptown Charlotte.

After several trips to North Carolina to meet with investors, Shure said the state appealed for a number of reasons. 

"It seemed like everyone we met was wellness-minded, fitness minded – the way we all are nowadays," Shure said. "We're trying to make Chop't, and vegetable eating in general, just part of peoples' everyday lives. So we're looking for the most convenient places to be."

Though the Chop't menu may not look it, Shure describes the restaurant as fast-food. At the same time, he said, it's also a "full-blown culinary operation" that, for example, makes its own dressing and doesn't use sugar. 

"The efforts behind the food are the same as what happens with tablecloth restaurants," Shure said. "All the hard work goes on behind the scenes, but when the doors open, we're as ready for speed as McDonald's and Chick-fil-A are."

Shure describes Chick-fil-A, an undoubted local favorite, as the In-n-Out Burger of the Southeast. The way Chick-fil-A operates, especially its friendliness, is "inspiring," Shure said, but "we just have different points of view on food." 

"Why not have a bowl full of vegetables – crunchy, farm-fresh, locally sourced vegetables with really well-sourced, sustainably-raised proteins and homemade dressing? To me, that's a way to live," Shure said. 

Shure and co-founder Colin McCabe, who met at the University of Wisconsin as undergraduates, started Chop't in New York in 2001. 
Read more here:

"This is a really big deal to us, to go to Charlotte," Shure said. "To us, it's the same thing as opening our first store on 17th Street. We're putting everything we have into it, and we’re really excited about it."
Chop't is a fast food, full-blown culinary operation, says co-founder Tony Shure.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Girl Scouts to sell cookies at SouthPark Mall today through March 8

For all of you who missed the sale of Girl Scout cookies from the kid down the street, from your coworker and even online: It's not too late to buy your Thin Mints and Samoas this year.

The Girl Scouts, Hornets' Nest Council will be selling cookies at the SouthPark Mall Center Court starting today through March 8. The booth sales will run on Fridays from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., Saturdays from 12 p.m. until 9 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m.

The cookies sold include Rah-Rah Raisins, Samoas, Trefoils, Do-si-dos, Tagalongs, Savannah Smiles and Thin Mints. Each box of cookies sells for $4.

Girl Scouts, Hornets' Nest Council serves more 23,000 girls and volunteers in eight counties of North and South Carolina, including Mecklenburg County. 

Inner Peaks climbing center coming to South End

Charlotte businesses just can't get enough of South End.

Inner Peaks, the indoor climbing center, will open a second location this summer on South Tryon just past the intersection of West Tremont Avenue.

The popular fitness spot announced the new location a couple of months ago but look to be hard at work readying the former warehouse space. The new facility will include a 15,000 climbing wall (taller than the one at its other location) and super-thick boulder padding, according to Inner Peaks' Facebook page.

It'll also have a fitness room, a multi-purpose room for yoga, cross training and possibly even (very intense-sounding) Ninja Warrior obstacles.

The fitness center currently has one location in Charlotte on Monroe Road near the Sardis Road intersection.

The new site at 2200 South Tryon Street joins a handful of other workout spots close by including Ultimate Crossfit, Charlotte Martial Arts Academy and Charlotte Jr. Gym.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Popular salad spot Chop't to open in Park Road Shopping Center

Chop't Creative Salad Company will open a restaurant in Charlotte, marking the first Chop't location outside of New York and the District of Columbia.

The new store will be in the Park Road Shopping Center, according to Restaurant Traffic, a blog run by Charlotte-area real estate brokers. Brian Carver of Cushman & Wakefield, the local real estate representative for Chop't, confirmed the news and location.

Interior of the Chop't in DC's Dupont Circle
Chop't is a local lunch favorite in DC and NYC that serves up "chopped-to-order" fresh salads and wraps in a Chipotle-like assembly line.

Its menu features a slew of chef-inspired creations -- like the Kebab Cobb salad with grilled chicken, feta cheese, red onion, peppers and pita chips chopped over romaine lettuce -- as as well as a create-your-own option. 

According to its website, there are 27 Chop't locations in New York and Washington. 

Co-founders Tony Shure and Colin McCabe, who met at the University of Wisconsin as undergraduates, started Chop't in New York in 2001. 

It wasn't immediately clear when the Charlotte Chop't will open, nor where exactly it'll reside in the Park Road Chopping Center. We'll update this blog with more details as we find out. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Best Buy launching wedding registry Feb. 16

When starting a new life together, it's important couples are equipped with the essentials: Smart TVs, home theater systems, Go Pros and Xbox and Playstation consoles. 

So Best Buy is launching a wedding registry Feb. 16. And by early April, Best Buy stores across the country will have kiosks where couples can view and print registry lists. Couples also have the option of syncing their registries with and 

The electronics company said its registry offers the option of group-gifting for multiple shoppers who want to go in on a pricier item, as well as free shipping on all gifts.

“Electronics and small appliances are as important to today’s newlyweds as silverware and towels,” said Wendy Fritz, Best Buy head of gifting strategy, in a statement Wednesday. 

Interestingly, said men registered for wedding gifts 30 percent more in 2014 than 2013, CNBC reported, and they selected items like power drills and sporting equipment. So the company's declared 2015 "the year of the groom," and is in talks to partner with other "male-centric" retailers (including Best Buy.)

According to Best Buy's website, the company operates 10 stores in Charlotte. 

Harris Teeter to add beer growlers to five NC stores

Growler bottle at Grapevine in Fort Mill
Harris Teeter is trying its hand at the sale of draft beer in growlers for the first time. 

The Matthews-based grocer will be getting five growler stations in North Carolina over the next three to six months, according to Danna Jones, Harris Teeter's communication manager. 

Two will be in its 201central stores, and the other three will be in Charlotte Harris Teeters. 

Growlers, popular among craft beer enthusiasts, are reusable glass or metal bottles, usually 32- or 64- ounces, that can be filled (and sold to-go) at a station with national or local beers. 

Kroger, which owns Harris Teeter, has also started adding growlers to stores in Virginia. Other stores in Charlotte with growlers include Total Wine in Myers Park and Whole Foods in SouthPark. 

"Our home state of North Carolina is home to many breweries and craft beer enthusiasts, so we are excited to expand this portion of our beer business and intend to frequently rotate the varieties of beer offered in growlers," Jones said

Here's the list of Harris Teeter stores that'll be adding growlers:
  • Ballantyne Commons Harris Teeter at 15007 John J. Delaney Dr in Charlotte
  • Central Ave Harris Teeter at 1704 Central Ave in Charlotte
  • Kenilworth Commons Harris Teeter at 1227 East Boulevard in Charlotte
  • 201central at 13108 Eastfield Road in Huntersville
  • 201central at Weddington Monroe Road in Wesley Chapel  

Pop-up shopping event uptown to feature vendors like Stella & Dot

Some relief for those procrastinating Valentine's Day shopping: a handful of local and chain vendors will be setting up kiosks in uptown Charlotte for a three-day shopping event starting today. 

Customers can peruse boutique jewelry from Stella & Dot, natural soy candles from Mallory's Candles, boxes of truffles from Pott's Chocolate and custom menswear from Abbeydale. The Mint Museum gift shop will also be on hand selling books, locally crafted pottery and more. 

And last but not least: Hendrick will be offering shoppers the chance to win a sleek red Porsche for a day. Entrants must be over 25 with a valid license and proof of insurance.

Shop Uptown -- which is sponsored by Charlotte Center City Partners -- will run from Feb. 11 through Feb. 13, at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at 101 Independence Center, the corner of Trade and Tryon across from the Bank of America Building. Shoppers can visit the event's Facebook page here

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New home furnishings store to open in downtown Matthews

LAM Home storefront in Matthews
Furniture store LAM Home will open its new headquarters March 5 in downtown Matthews.

The store will sell antiques, unique home accessories and a "personalized purchasing experience" where shoppers can customize their own furniture.

LAM Home is operated by architectural and design firm LAM Studios. LAM Studio President Lorraine Mulligan and her team have completed design projects in both home and commercial interior spaces -- using "classic design elements" with a modern twist -- all over the country and Canada since the early 1990s. 

The grand opening of the store will take place from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. at its new space in the Funderburk Building, located at 159 North Trade Street. Light hors d’oeurves and refreshments from local restaurants like Santé and the Black Chickenwill be served. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Family-run restaurant coming to historic Davidson

Kindred's celery root totelloni 

A family-run, chef-inspired restaurant is coming soon to Davidson's historic downtown. 

Kindred, which opens Feb. 19, has a rotating menu that blends "global experiences and southern traditions" using ingredients from local farmers and foragers. 

Kindred is located on 131 N Main Street in Davidson, in the former Tom Clark Museum, which was originally the town pharmacy. The restaurant will occupy the building's three floors and will feature a patio with outdoor seating in the back. 

Prices will run in the $30-per-person range, co-owner Katy Kindred told The Observer last August. The restaurant's Facebook page showed Kindred's test kitchen have included dishes like celery root tortelloni with Gruyere, fennel and sunchoke as well as handmade duck egg garganelli with guinea hen ragu. 

The restaurant's owners are husband and wife duo Joe and Katy Kindred, and they have experience working in restaurants across the U.S., from the Pump Room in Chicago to Quince in San Francisco. Most recently Joe was the executive chef at Rooster's in Uptown Charlotte. Katy, a sommelier, is the marketing and media manager for the Noble's Restaurant Group. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Ritz-Carlton to open newest bar on Valentine's Day

Those planning a date night for Valentine's Day have another option in uptown Charlotte. 

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel will open its newest bar, The Punch Room, Feb. 14. It'll offer a selection of drinks prepared by award-winning mixologist Bob Peters as well as traditional wines, beers and light dining options. 

The 15th floor bar promises "an intimate after-hours sanctum presenting a tantalizing, highly sophisticated beverage experience" with the ambience of a 19th century "den of yesteryear." 

The Punch Room can seat up to 37 guests at a time. It replaces the Urban Sip, which previously occupied the space in the Ritz-Carlton.  

The bar will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 to 11:00 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. It does not accept reservations and will be open to the public, though a portion of each evening’s seating will be reserved for registered guests of the hotel.

The Ritz-Carlton is located at 201 East Trade Street. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Consignment furniture startup holding warehouse sale Saturday

What do you get when you cross Plato's Closet with Craigslist with Ikea and throw in a delivery service?

Move Loot. It's an online marketplace for secondhand home goods that allows customers to buy and sell gently used furniture on its website

For buyers, Move Loot offers free delivery and on-the-spot returns. For sellers, the company picks up the item for free, cleans it, takes a professional photo for listing on its website, stores the piece in a warehouse until someone buys it and then splits the selling price 50/50 with the seller. 

The company -- a San Francisco start-up that opened in Charlotte in November -- will hold its first Charlotte warehouse sale on Saturday, offering shoppers 15 percent off everything. 

Since its inception less than three months ago, the Charlotte business has accrued more than 1,000 customers and experienced a revenue increase of more than 100 percent from December to January.

The Charlotte team also recently expanded from one person -- Meggie Williams, the Charlotte general manager -- to five.

According to the young company, its CEO Bill Bobbitt, a Raleigh native, co-founded Move Loot in 2013 after trying to offload furniture before a cross-country move to San Francisco, where he'd then have to restock with new furniture. 

Williams said Charlotte's growing population of young and mobile professionals therefore made it an attractive prospect after Move Loot opened its Raleigh store in September.

"That's part of our target demographic, people who are young, in their mid-20s," Williams said, adding that Move Loot caters to customers of all ages. "People who don’t have a house yet, who are pretty transient and who have a lot of furniture buying and selling needs and also in a lot of cases, don’t have a 16-foot truck to transport furniture in."

Williams said the company's biggest benefit is the trouble it saves customers who don't have to bother loading and offloading furniture and the awkward and potentially dangerous meet-ups with strangers buying or selling furniture. 

"We are the easiest way to buy and sell lightly used furniture. No heavy lifting, no strangers, no hassle," Williams said.

The sale this weekend will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Move Loot warehouse at 100 E. Forsyth Hall Drive in the Nations Ford Business Park. Williams said the company hopes to make the warehouse sale a monthly recurring event like it is in Raleigh.

Move Loot's San Francisco warehouse

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Charlotte's third Fresh Market to open March 4

Charlotte's newest Fresh Market will open March 4 in the Promenade on Providence shopping center.

A Fresh Market store interior
A grand opening of the grocery store will take place at 8:00 that morning and will feature chef demonstrations, food sampling and drawings to win Fresh Market gift cards.

The store will also give away a reusable shopping bag and a sample-sized bag of gourmet coffee to the first 1,000 customers.

The 27,000 square-foot store, located at 10828 Providence Road, includes, among other features, a bakery, an organic produce department and a meat counter that offers ready-to-serve meals. 

In its store opening announcement Thursday, Fresh Market said the new store will bring about 90 new jobs to the area. 

The store will be Fresh Market's third Charlotte location and the company's 20th in North Carolina.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cornelius Publix is now open

The new Publix in Cornelius is now open. 

The supermarket's eighth North Carolina store is located at 8315 Magnolia Estates Drive in the Magnolia Plaza shopping Center. Like many other Publix stores, the newest one is less than half a mile from competitor Harris Teeter. 

According to its website, the 50,323 square-foot Cornelius supermarket is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. It also includes a pharmacy open seven days a week. 

By 2016, Publix will have 15 locations in the Charlotte area along with stores in Asheville and Cary.
Read more here:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pure Pizza to open second restaurant in Plaza Midwood

Pure Pizza will open its second location in Charlotte this spring. 

The "farm-2-fork" pizzeria said on its Facebook page this week that the new restaurant will be in Plaza Midwood in the space formerly occupied by Lulu at 1911 Central Avenue. 

Pure Pizza owner and founder Juli Ghazi told The Observer details about the new site, including opening date and hiring specifics, will be disclosed soon. 

"We couldn't be more excited. Now, we will have the opportunity to expand our brand to include more of what we are passionate about," Ghazi wrote in the post. 

With the new location, Pure Pizza will expand its menu, grow produce on site and hire additional workers, according to the post. 

The restaurant offers a variety of salads, sandwiches and pizzas made using sustainable techniques and organic local ingredients. Its signature "sprouted ancient grain" crust combines quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and whole wheat. 

Pure Pizza is located in the Seventh Street Public Market in Uptown Charlotte.

New Sugar Creek Brewing Company is expanding already

Sugar Creek Brewing Company is growing to meet demand for its popular Belgian-style beer.

The Charlotte-based brewery will invest in a new 16-head bottling machine capable of producing 3,500 bottles per hour as well as a 750 ml bottling machine that will handle its caged and corked bottling, according to a statement released Tuesday.

Sugar Creek's new equipment, which will be up and running by May, will allow it to start distributing six packs and 750 ml bottles to local grocery stores, bottle shops and restaurants. It'll also start distributing its products in South Carolina as early as June.

The investment, Sugar Creek said, will also allow the company to add additional jobs at its brewhouse and distribution operations.

“Sugar Creek is excited to continue its growth in the Charlotte-area community, expanding its reach to consumers while providing local employment opportunities” said co-founder Eric Flanigan.

The brewing company, which opened last October, is located at 215 Southside Drive in Charlotte and is open seven days a week. Sugar Creek's beer selection consists primarily of Belgian styles -- including a pale ale, a witbier, a saison and a dubbel -- and in its tap room Sugar Creek also serves Belgian-inspired street food like Döner kebabs. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cabela's to open new store March 12

Outdoor sporting goods store Cabela's will open its new Fort Mill location on March 12. 

Doors of the 104,000-square-foot store, situated off I-77 near Carowinds, will open at 10 a.m. after a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony. The company said in a statement that the week of the opening will feature "special appearances, family events, giveaways and more."

When finalized, a full schedule of events will be on Cabela's website.  

In addition to its hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, the store will include a deli, a full-service boat shop, an indoor archery range and a host of other features. 

The company said in December it would hire 225 full- and part-time seasonal employees for the new site, its second South Carolina location. 

Toys & Co. closes doors at Park Road Shopping Center

Toys & Co. has closed the doors of its Park Road Shopping Center store, moving all operations to its larger location in the Cotswold Shopping Center.

Children play at the Toys & Co. store at Cotswold.
Sherry Stone, manager of Cotswold store, said seven employees from the Park Road location moved to the Cotswold store, bringing the total headcount there to about 30. At 9,000 square feet, the Cotswold store is almost twice as big as the Park Road location.

The company, Stone said, will be better able to host more activities like kid's yoga, games and crafts in the combined store. Further, Toys & Co. will use the larger staff to grow its online business through the 3,500 square foot warehouse at the Cotswold location.

“We hated to do it, but sometimes you have to make changes to move forward and to grow," said Stone, adding that the company hopes to expand in Charlotte. 

Toys & Co. -- a privately owned retailer that sells toys, dolls and stuffed animals -- now operates a total of four stores in Charlotte, Myrtle Beach and Greensboro.

Chick-fil-A giving away free coffee all month

For the entire month of February, Chick-fil-A is giving away free hot or iced coffee all day long. 

The Atlanta-based restaurant partnered with THRIVE Farmers Coffee last year to introduce the specialty coffee at its stores. Sales of THRIVE coffee benefits farmers in South America, the restaurant said in a statement, allowing them to make 10 times more than other farmers. 

Customers can choose between a free 12-ounce hot or 16-ounce iced coffee, though the offer is limited to one per person. No additional purchase is necessary. 

Chick-fil-A operates more than 1,900 restaurants in 41 states and Washington, D.C. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hillbilly Produce to relocate iconic shop

Hillbilly Produce Market is soon closing the doors of its iconic Independence Boulevard store.

The year-round farmer’s market -- known for selling a variety of items including locally grown fruits and vegetables, meats and landscaping materials -- opened in Charlotte in 1984.

Hillbilly Produce Market in 2008

The market’s owner, Marshall Surface, sold the property at 7024 Independence Boulevard to Charlotte-based Hendrick Automotive Group, which owns the property around the store, public records show.

A Hendrick spokesman said the company doesn't have any plans announced for the space yet but bought it for the flexibility to build eventually.

Dylan Thompson, the market’s manager, said the 31-year old market will close within “a week or two” after it has cleared out its remaining inventory.

“Obviously people are not happy with it,” Thompson said. “A lot of people seem to want to know (where the new store location will be) but we don’t have answers for them yet.”

Hillbilly Produce Market will reopen in a new location once the right one is found, Thompson said. Right now the market's management is looking at a few locations "pretty much everywhere, from Eastland Mall to a little bit east of Sardis Road North."

The market's owner could not be reached for comment.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Workout Anytime expanding into Charlotte

Workout Anytime is opening six new clubs in Charlotte this year, and first two will open early this spring. The gyms will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and every day of the year. 

For now, the low-cost clubs are concentrated mostly in Georgia and Tennessee, said Kevin Edmonds, area developer of Workout Anytime in North Carolina. 

There are currently about a dozen clubs in North Carolina -- in Cary, Greensboro and Winston Salem -- and in addition to the new Charlotte locations, clubs are also slated to open in Asheboro and Winston Salem early this year. The company is planning for an "additional 8-12 coming before the end of 2016" in Charlotte. 

"We've been eyeing it since day one because when you want to make a presence in the Carolinas, you know you have to have, to be a nationally known company, you have to be in the larger cities," said Kevin Edmonds. 

The first two clubs in Charlotte will be in the Catawba Village shopping Center on Mount Holly-Huntersville Road (opening in March) and on Roxie Street Northeast in Kannapolis (opening in April.) Membership presales have begun, Edmonds said. 

Basic membership to the workout facility is $15 a month, Edmonds said, and a premium membership is $25 a month and includes unlimited tanning and access to a hydro massage bed services. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gabriel Brothers hiring 170 workers at each of its two new NC locations

As part of its Gabe's debut in North Carolina, Gabriel Brothers, Inc. is closing two of its Rugged Warehouses and opening as two new Gabe's stores in Gastonia and Greensboro. It will hire 170 workers at each new store.

Gabe's is a bigger version of Rugged Warehouse that offers a larger selection of merchandise, including footwear, adult and children's clothing, small electronics and beauty products. The Morgantown, W.Va., retailer says its prices are up to 70 percent lower than those of department stores.

The new 50,000 square-foot Gastonia store will reside in the Akers Corners Shopping Center, about a quarter mile from the old Rugged Warehouse. The Greensboro location, also 50,000 square-feet, will be in the same shopping complex as the former Rugged Warehouse. Both open March 7. 

The company will retain Rugged Warehouse employees and will hire another 170 part-time and full-time associates, according to Dominic Vicencio, the company's senior marketing manager. The company is hiring for "leadership positions as well as supervisory, customer service, cashier and stocking roles," according to its website. 

The company didn't disclose pay for the Gabe's stores employees, but Vicencio said it'll be similar to what workers made at Rugged Warehouse. 

To fill those positions, on both Feb. 4 and 5 the two stores are hosting separate hiring events, each starting at 9 a.m. At Gastonia, the event will take place at the Gastonia Convention Center, located at 145 South Marietta Street. In Greensboro, it'll be at the Kalif Center at 2000 East Wendover Avenue.

Including two Rugged Warehouses in Charlotte, Gabriel Brothers operates 45 stores in Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Vicencio said there are no current plans for changes at its other North Carolina stores. 

Brewpublik delivers craft beer to customers' doorsteps

A new service in Charlotte allows you to have your craft beer and drink it too without even having to leave the house.

The newly launched Brewpublik delivers four types of craft beer within a 30-minute radius of uptown Charlotte in either 12-pack (for $35) or 24-pack (for $60) hand-crafted wooden crates once a month. Like Pandora, the service uses an algorithm (or as they call it, a "beergorithm") to curate a selection of craft beers based on the customer's taste.

According to its website, Brewpublik has access to any beer distributor in North Carolina, or over 600 different beers. With each delivery, Brewpublik offers a beer information sheet that includes a description of the beer, how it's made, background on the brewer and food that complements it.

The Charlotte company was started by Zach Jamison and Charlie Mulligan, "two dudes" who live on Hawthorne Lane, according the company's website. The two said they plan to expand the service to other cities in the Southeast in coming months.

"We think Charlotte is developing a thirst for craft beer and we want to help customers discover and experience these new beers that are being created both in our backyard and all over the country," Mulligan said in a statement.

Walmart Neighborhood Market on Harris Boulevard to open this spring

The wait will soon be over. The new Walmart Neighborhood Market at 8800 East W.T. Harris Boulevard "is set to open this spring," according to Amanda Henneberg, a Walmart spokeswoman. 

The Neighborhood Market concept is Walmart's answer to traditional supermarkets. Like other markets, the Harris Boulevard location, located near the Albemarle Road intersection, will be around 41,00 square feet, the size of a typical grocery store, and will employ about 95 people. 

The stores typically offer a variety of grocery items, from meats to frozen foods and produce, as well as pet and cleaning supplies. Shoppers can order an assortment of items from Walmart's website for delivery at local Neighborhood Markets. 

According to Chain Store Guide, Walmart is the biggest grocery store in the Charlotte area, surpassing Harris Teeter and Publix. 

We'll update this blog when we know the exact opening of the new location. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fresh to Order to open Saturday in Carolina Place Mall

Fresh to Order, which offers a variety of freshly prepared seasonal menu items for about $10 or less, is gearing up to open its first Charlotte location Saturday in Carolina Place Mall.

The Alpharetta, Georgia-based “fast-dine” restaurant said it plans to open eight North Carolina locations over the next five years.

The “chef-inspired” menu features dishes like crushed-almond crusted tuna steak and brown sugar roasted pork loin, along with a variety of soups, salads and sandwiches, all prepared in less than 10 minutes.

"What we want to show Charlotte is that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor or your well-being to enjoy a fast, affordable meal,” Pierre Panos, the founder and CEO, said in a statement.

Panos, who has developed several restaurant concepts including Stony River and franchises several Papa Johns stores, opened the first Fresh to Order in 2006. The restaurant has about a dozen other locations in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Its menu can be viewed here

Monday, January 26, 2015

Walmart opening a 24/7 Neighborhood Market in Rock Hill

Continuing its foray into the grocery store business, Walmart is opening a Neighborhood Market in Rock Hill that will be open 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week.

The store is set to open Wednesday after a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony at 7:30 a.m.

Located at 1225 Cherry Road, the supermarket will offer an assortment of groceries including meats and produce as well as other merchandise like pet supplies and beauty products. It will also have a bakery, pharmacy and gas station. 

“We are here to provide our customers with their everyday groceries in a hassle-free environment,” store manager Philip Cook said in a statement.

The latest Neighborhood Market is 41,00 square feet, about the size of a regular supermarket but much smaller than a Walmart SuperCenter. The company said the latest location employs 95 full- and part-time workers. 

The biggest retailer in the U.S., Walmart is also the biggest grocer in the Charlotte area by retail sales, according to Chain Store Guide. It operates over a dozen Neighborhood Markets in North Carolina. 

McDonald's is making moves on South Boulevard

It's going to be a little easier making a pit stop for a Big Mac if you're driving down South Boulevard. 

To improve accessibility, the popular fast food restaurant on Arrowood Drive and South Boulevard is moving into a new building across the street and on the other side of the light rail. 

Morgan Property Group said last week that it purchased the plot of land on the northeast corner of South Boulevard and Starbrook Drive, where it'll build a 4,446 square-foot new building with dual drive-thru lanes.

Through its affiliate Four Names Reality, MPG bought 1.2 acres at the new location mid-January for $1.5 million from Shastri and Associates. According to a statement from MPG, McDonald's has executed a long-term lease with Four Names Realty.

''It is exciting to see McDonald's moving to a new location that will not only better serve its customers traveling along South Boulevard, but also increase their visibility,'' said Jeff Surrency, MPG's executive vice president of development. 

The group did not provide specifics about a schedule for construction.