Restaurants to try in 2011 … thanks Helen for a list!

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Now, for 2011, I’m anticipating:

The much-rumored filling of several available spaces, including (but hardly limited to) uptown and the north, plus bursts of activity in south Charlotte. For example, if leases go through, look for:

Delta’s to go into the former G.W. Fins space on North Tryon Street, opening in June with a live-music supper club kind of vibe (R&B and jazz) and a menu duplicating the New Jersey original, with Cajun and other Southern fare.

AZN Restaurant, spun from a Florida original by the folks who also have Silk in Atlanta, to go into a new spot in Piedmont Town Center; it’s a Chinese-Japanese-Thai-Korean-Vietnamese-sushi concept.

The Diamond. This home cooking spot in Plaza Midwood, the revamping of a Charlotte classic, is slated to open this month, I’m told. It might. I – along with a legion of others, if one looks at Facebook – am ready!

And, it follows logically, the Penguin: It will be fascinating to see what happens when this storied landmark burger-etc. place reopens under new management, as it is slated to do Saturday. Those who followed the neighborhood-classic throwdown know that emotions run high about these last two places and that loyalties are at stake, not just foodstuffs.

Barbecue from longtime Charlotte restaurateur Frank Scibelli in Plaza Midwood – and though chef Jim Noble has his hands full between his Rooster’s and King’s Kitchen, I’m going to continue to keep an eye on his love of barbecue and where that might go.

via Charlotte’s best new restaurants of 2010 –


10.13.2010 … Last supper last night at the Penguin …. And the fried pickles and pimento cheese sandwich were both very “nice” … As Liv would say …

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The Penguin, restaurants, followup:

The unfolding Penguin drama | CLT Blog.

10.4.2010 Why we care about the Penguin’s fate –

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In Charlotte, we get heated up about plenty: struggling schools, starving banks, sacked Panthers. But rarely is the hubbub as quick and visceral as the last few weeks’ flap around our Penguin.

And it is our Penguin, make no mistake.

To understand the furor, you must understand the plethora of Penguins that people mean when they discuss it. There’s the burger joint that got onto the Food Network, the decades-old family business, the resurrected urban oasis. There’s the place a franchisor thinks could work in 40 or 50 states, and the place fans deem the unreproducible figurehead of Charlotte funk.

But above all, there is the Penguin that is our city’s proof.

via Why we care about the Penguin’s fate –

10.3.2010 The Penguin Update

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restaurants, The Penguin, followup:

UPDATE: Sprock confirmed Monday that Auten is out, but that other people will be coming to the deal (“Charlotteans who have been involved in the restaurant business for a long time”). He said the menu will be “90 percent the same,” with some healthy-food additions, such as a salad. Other plans: a patio and new air conditioning. The only change that might “freak people out”: ice cream or frozen custard. “I’m not saying I’m going to do it,” but he’s considering it; the Penguin was once an ice cream shop. He plans to emphasize family-friendliness, also. Asked if such an approach will preserve enough of the current diverse crowd to stay viable, he said: “It needs to be cool and hip, mixing the musicians with the investment bankers… (But) we’ve heard families say there’s too rough a crowd at times.”

via Helen Schwab: 2nd daily Penguin update: Sprock confirms that chef Auten is out.

______: My brother- in-law Gary noted that Sprock is the very successful franchisor of such southern favorites as Moe’s and Flying Biscuit ”’

While some may debate which tastes better — a burrito from Moe’s Southwest Grill or success — one thing Raving Brands Inc. Founder and CEO Martin Sprock won’t debate is how to do business in his restaurant chains, which include Moe’s, Boneheads and the Flying Biscuit Cafe. After unofficially being named “least likely to succeed” in high school, Sprock says he has far exceeded even his own mother’s expectations, so he feels obligated to make his 125 employees taste success as well. Smart Business spoke with this spicy CEO about how he gets his employee buy-in and drives his company’s success.

via Martin Sprock – Founder and CEO, Raving Brands Inc..