TCB July 28, 2022 — Close Call/Reserved

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Old San Juan brings Puerto Rican flavor pg. 14

Romeo’s Vegan Burgers comes to GSO pg. 11

Downtown Winston’s dwindling free parking pg. 9

CLOSE CALL Nancy Vaughan narrowly wins re-election as mayor of Greensboro; opponent Justin Outling waits to concede pg. 4

UP FRONT | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022


I’m supposed to go downtown



Yvonne Johnson watches the results come in at the Old Guilford County Courthouse on Tuesday.


1451 S Elm Eugene Street #BusinessisBuiltHere




Charlie Marion


Jonathan Jones



Sayaka Matsuoka

CHIEF CONTRIBUTORS Suzy Fielders James Douglas


1451 S. Elm-Eugene St. Box 24, Greensboro, NC 27406 Office: 336.681.0704 ART WEBMASTER Sam LeBlanc ART DIRECTOR

Noah Kirby


Carolyn de Berry, John Cole, Owens Daniels, Luis H. Garay, Kaitlynn Havens, Jordan Howse, Matt Jones, Autumn Karen, Michaela Ratliff, Jen Sorensen, Todd Turner

TCB IN A FLASH @ First copy is free, all additional copies are $1. ©2022 Beat Media Inc.


COVERS: Winston-Salem design by Charlie Marion Greensboro cover shot by Carolyn de Berry: Nancy Vaughan celebrates after her win on Tuesday evening.

’m supposed to go downtown, to the Blue Room or maybe the upstairs meeting space, by Brian Clarey to join the media scrum watching returns with a few of the candidates and their people. It’s a quaint Greensboro tradition — I don’t know of any other city where a reporter can talk to so many candidates at once on Election Night in one space like that, though I’m sure it happens elsewhere. Like in the Midwest or something. I was in the Midwest just a couple of days ago: walking up and down Michigan Avenue, cruising the Chicago River, feeling that big-city energy course through me. I counted the artifacts on the sides of the former Tribune Building, a Gothic masterpiece that has long since been converted to expensive condos. And I sat next to a doctor from Lake Charles, La. at the hotel bar. We talked about our fathers while I ate a bone-in strip steak and he drank exactly one Belvedere martini, with a twist. I used to drink on Election Night, starting off in the caesura that forms after the polls close and before the returns come in. Which is right now. I’m supposed to go downtown. But Sayaka has got the news angle covered and the photographer is ready to go. I’m not even writing up

the results* — Sayaka is handling that, too. I’m supposed to go downtown, but for what? This afternoon I was supposed to go out and hit some precincts, gather string for Sayaka’s story. Instead I found myself driving out to the White Street Landfill, which the city had the lack of foresight to install just a few miles from downtown, in a Black neighborhood, naturally. The landfill closed to municipal solid waste in 2007, and the threat of reopening it became a campaign issue in the 2009 Greensboro City Council Election. That was when we all learned about the municipal solid waste stream and plasma gasification. For a short time there, we were thinking a lot about our garbage, and our responsibility to it. We don’t do that anymore. I’ve been covering these elections for a long time. This would be my seventh one — I missed 2013 because I got fired that day. I watched the returns alone, on my couch — that was the year Dianne Bellamy-Small lost District 1 by 11 votes to Sharon Hightower. I’m supposed to go downtown, and I guess I probably will, even though I don’t have much to do. It’s a Greensboro City Council election, after all, where else am I going to go? * I did, after all, write up some of the results.


THURSDAY July 28 Community Food Distribution @ Helping Hands High Point (HP) 11 a.m.

FRIDAY July 29 ‘80s Tacky Prom Night @ Garage Tavern (GSO) 8 p.m.

Carolina Artist Mixer @ Gallery on Main (HP) 7 p.m. Visions From Within, Heavy Energy and Soul Society invite you to a night of networking and entertainment during this artist mixer with live poetry, live painting, food trucks and more. Purchase tickets on Eventbrite. Movies in the Park @ Barber Park (GSO) 8:30 p.m.

Helping Hands is happy to offer assistance to those in need by supplying groceries, adult diapers and more supplies. Find more information on the event page on Facebook. YA Summer Sampler @ Bookmarks (W-S) 6:30 p.m. Bookmarks is hosting a YA Summer Sampler with authors Serena Kaylor and Vincent Tirado. They’ll discuss the details of their books and why they chose the specific snacks to match them, followed by a book signing. Register at

Put on your best tacky ‘80s prom attire and head to Garage Tavern to party to DJ Todd’s mix of ‘80s hits. There will also be a tacky dressed contest, prizes and giveaways. Find more info on the event page on Facebook.

UP FRONT | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022


Greensboro’s hosting its own park event with this movie night at Barber Park Amphitheatre. Grab your blankets, lawn chairs and snacks and enjoy this free screening of Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

SUNDAY July 31 Harry Potter’s Birthday Weekend @ Black Mountain Chocolate (W-S) 10 a.m.

Godspell @ Stained Glass Playhouse (W-S) 8 p.m.

Musically Speaking with Maestro Peter Perret and Dr. Greg Carroll @ Dana Auditorium (GSO) 7 p.m.

Stained Glass Playhouse presents Godspell, a story of friendship, loyalty and love based on St. Matthew’s Gospel. Through games, comedy and storytelling techniques, a small group of people help Jesus Christ tell different parables. Learn more and purchase tickets at

SATURDAY July 30 As part of the Eastern Music Festival, Maestro Peter Perret and musicologist Dr. Greg Carroll will host a free pre-concert discussion of the evening’s composer in a casual environment. At 8, enjoy a concerto concert by the Young Artist Orchestra. Visit for more information.

Day in the Park @ Bailey Park (W-S) 11 a.m. Smart Start of Forsyth County is launching this new ROOTS program to help local children develop strong relationships with their families and community. This free event features music, kids activities, snow cones and other goodies.

Black Mountain Chocolate is celebrating Harry Potter’s 42nd birthday with Harry Potter-themed treats like butterbeer cupcakes, treacle tart, chocolate eclairs, and sweet pumpkin pasties. Pair them with a themed cocktail like a Death Eater Negroni. Visit the event page on Facebook for more information. Rastacoustic Reggae Sunday @ Ziggys. Space (HP) 7 p.m. Rastacoustic is an Appalachian reggae group bringing their combination of influences from the Blue Ridge Mountains and Jamaica to High Point with a mix of classics from Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and other reggae greats. Visit the event page on Facebook for more information.

Send your events to for consideration in City Life and the Weekender.


NEWS | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022


Nancy Vaughan narrowly beats Justin Outling in Greensboro mayoral race, voters pass all five bonds by Sayaka Matsuoka



our hundred and twenty five. That’s how many votes made the gin of 1.3 percent between the top mayoral candidates, we are patiently waiting for difference for Nancy Vaughan to win the Greensboro mayoral race more information from the Board of Elections.” once again. On Tuesday evening, Vaughan, who has been mayor In order for him to be declared the winner, Outling would have to gain 426 of since 2013, won re-election for her seat until the next race in 2025. those votes still left to be counted and would have to win with more than a 1 per“I feel relieved,” Vaughan told Triad City Beat outside of Next Door Beer Bar and cent margin between him and Vaughan. Bottle Shop where she watched the results come in with friends and family. “It was By Tuesday night, Outling had won 180 mail-in ballots compared to Vaughan’s obviously a lot closer than I would have preferred.” 263. These ballots were ones that had been turned in early and counted before Vaughan, who is a Democrat, ran a tight race against District 3 city council Election Day. member Justin Outling, who is also a Democrat and has been As of Wednesday morning, Guilford County Board of on council since 2015. In the end, Vaughan won with 43 Elections Director Charlie Collicutt told TCB that so far, percent or 13,932 votes compared to Outling’s 41.7 the board has counted an additional 34 provisional percent or 13,507 votes. About 15.2 percent went to ballots and 17 absentee ballots and they will continue a write-in candidate who is unnamed but was likely Chris to receive ballots through Friday. As long as the ballots are Meadows, a Republican who began campaigning in the last postmarked with the July 26 Election Day date and are refew months. ceived by the elections office by this Friday, they are eligible Due to the close nature of the Greensboro mayoral race, to be counted. runner-up Justin Outling has not yet conceded to unoffiDespite Outling’s hold out for hope, the numbers don’t cial winner Nancy Vaughan who garnered 43 percent or look to be in his favor. ­­Mayor Nancy Vaughan 13,932 votes compared to Outling’s 41.7 percent or According to Collicutt, “typically what you see in these 13,507 votes. ballots, is that they tend to break the same way that the In a statement on Wednesday, Outling’s campaign manelection did, that’s just statistically. That does not necessariager Chelsea Boccardo told TCB that the campaign is waiting for the outstanding ly mean that’s the case here, we don’t know. I think though, if a lot of ballots come mail-in and provisional ballots to be counted. in, don’t assume they’re for one candidate or the other.” “One thing is clear from the results,” the statement reads. “Greensboro wants For example, in the 2017 municipal election, there were less than 500 total change, beyond the status quo…. Considering there are an unknown number of mail-in ballots cast in the at-large race which was the most Cont. on pg. 6 mail-in votes (absentee and service members) collected through Friday, and a marpopular race. That included numbers from before Election

It was obviously a lot closer than I would have preferred.


Nancy Vaughan celebrates her win after the results of the election come in on Tuesday night.

NEWS NEWS | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022

Incumbents, and a familiar face, retain their Greensboro city council seats

L-R: City council incumbents Sharon Hightower, Tammi Thurm, Goldie Wells and Marikay Abuzuaiter celebrate their wins on Election night after the results come in. PHOTO BY JULIET COEN

by Brian Clarey


t was a good night for incumbents, as the more experienced Democratic candidates held off challengers in every race, with the exception of District 3. That’s where former council member and current president of Downtown Greensboro Inc. Zack Matheny retained the seat he held from 2007-15, when he stepped down for the DGI job. Current District 3 Rep. Justin Outling lost his bid for mayor in a very tight race against incumbent Nancy Vaughan, and Matheny’s opponent in the race, Chip Roth, dropped out of the race for health reasons just after the primary. “Things we started 10 years ago have happened,” Matheny said, referencing the Tanger Center and the Megasite. “What’s our 10-year plan now?” Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson once again got the most votes for the at-large seats with 25 percent, followed by incumbent Marikay Abuzuaiter who had about 20 percent. Hugh Holston, who was appointed to his seat in 2021 after Michelle Kennedy stepped down to take a job with the city, edged out his closest opponent, Republican Katie Rossabi, by 554 votes. “This is the last one,” Johnson said on Election night, intimating that she would not be running again in 2025. “I’m serious.”

District 1 incumbent Sharon Hightower convincingly defeated her opponent, Felton Foushee, with nearly 78 percent of the vote. “It’s a good day in District 1,” she said, thanking her constituents for coming out. District 2 was close until the end, with incumbent Goldie Wells fending off challenger CC Crawford by just 121 votes. Wells said she understands the challenges in her district, and that “District 2 has more development right now than any other district,” including large projects like the development near NC A&T State University and the Urban Loop. Nancy Hoffmann locked down her race early, besting Republican challenger Thurston Reeder by 900 votes in early voting and then carrying the day with nearly 65 percent of the vote. And in District 5, Tammi Thurm once again beat Republican Tony Wilkins, who was appointed to the seat when Trudy Wade went to the NC Senate in 2012. Thurm beat Wilkins by fewer than 10 points and 500 votes in 2017. This year she widened the margin by a couple points and a couple hundred votes. She credited the endorsement from the Firemen’s Union with putting her over the top. Overall voter turnout was 16.17 percent, up from 14.8 percent in 2017.


NEWS | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022

Cont. from pg. 4



PHOTO BY JULIET COEN Precinct chairs bring their ballots to be counted on Tuesday evening to the Guilford County Board of Elections.


Day and after. “I don’t think history shows that you’re going to add another 500,” Collicutt said. “I’m going to see what we got in 2017 after Election Day...I don’t know how many it was. I don’t think it was too many...” In another close race between fourth place at-large candidate Katie Rossabi and third-place unofficial winner Hugh Holston, Collicutt noted that even though it looks like there is a less than 1 percent difference between the two, in actuality, there is a more than 2 percent difference when just their votes are isolated. Based on results from Tuesday night, Holston got 11,925 votes to Rossabi’s 11,371 votes. Combined, that’s a total of 23,296. That means that Holston won 51.18 percent of those votes compared to Rossabi’s 48.81 percent. That’s a 2.37 percent difference, which is how differences are calculated based on the state statute, Collicutt said. As for the rest of the mail-in and provisional ballots, Collicutt said that they would continue to count all votes they receive through Friday and that the election board will meet several times next week to go over the results. Final, official results will be out by the end of next week. While Outling and Vaughan have had fairly similar platforms and voting records over the course of the last few years, Vaughan’s name recognition may have helped pull her across the finish line. In every other council race on Tuesday evening, the incumbent won. That, Vaughan said, means something. “I think that shows that we had a strong message,” Vaughan said. During her time as mayor, Vaughan has had a number of high-profile economic accomplishments including the building of the Tanger Center as well as the recruitment of large companies like Toyota, Boom Supersonic and Publix to the city. While supporters point to her successful business deals, critics pointed to her response to the Marcus Smith case as well as her handling of protests during the summer of 2020 as reasons for change. Over the course of the last year, Outling built a strong campaign against Vaughan, citing change and a need to have fresh mayoral leadership. He also pointed to the fact that the majority of voters who showed up for the primary election in May, voted for someone new. “The reality is for everyone who ran in the primary, they all introduced themselves to voters,” Outling told TCB in the past. “Most people know Nancy Vaughan. But the majority of people voted for change.” In the May primary, Vaughan won 45 percent of the vote to Outling’s 35.3







Produced By The Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership


All five bonds passed by voters


n addition to big wins for incumbents, five new bonds were passed with overwhelming support by voters on Tuesday. The housing bond that Vaughan mentioned was passed with 67.5 percent of voters voting in favor of the bond. The initiative, which was for a total of $30 million, is to increase affordable housing units in the city and also use dollars to invest in neighborhoods for lower- and middle-income families and help families buy homes. The proposed breakdown of the $30 million is as

follows: $20 million for affordable housing, $5 million for access to homeownership and $5 million for neighborhood investment. The parks and recreation bond also passed, with 66.6 percent voting in favor. The proposed $70 million would go to creating the Windsor-Chavis-Nocho Joint Use Facility which would be one large facility that acts as a library, recreation center, pool and meeting center for the Nocho Park area off Gate City Boulevard; $20 million would be used to expand the Greensboro Science Center to include a rainforest biodome and an ocean lab that would help conservation and research efforts. The firefighting facilities bond, which was for $14 million, passed with the most support at 76 percent. The money is set to be used to improve and renovate four Greensboro fire stations including: Station #40 on Pisgah Church Rd., Station #8 on Coliseum Blvd., Station #10 on Gate City Blvd. and Station #14 on Summit Ave. The law enforcement bond also passed with 65.5 percent approval. The $6 million bond would be used to improve, secure and maintain law enforcement facilities throughout the city including $3 million to renovate the fourth floor of the police headquarters and $3 million for the Greensboro Police Department Records Management System. Lastly, the transportation bond which totals $15 million passed with 69.2 percent of voters in favor and would be used to add and improve sidewalks, streets and other transportation infrastructure including public transportation. A number of sidewalks and greenways including ones on Vandalia Rd., 16th Street, Yanceyville Street and Battleground Avenue south of Westridge Road would be improved. The roads at Pisgah Church intersections at Elm Street, Lawndale Drive and Martinsville Drive would also be improved. Lastly, more bus shelters would be installed, old buses would be replaced and the bus depot would be improved.

NEWS | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022

percent. When asked what she looks forward to now that she was won another term as mayor, Vaughan said she’s excited that the bonds passed and that there are more big announcements coming up. “We’re going to focus on getting the bond referendum implemented,” Vaughan said. “We really need to focus a majority of our energy on affordable, attainable housing and that’s more than just rent subsidies, it’s all the way up to workforce development.” When it comes to how tight the race was, Vaughan argued that it was due to Outling’s aggressive campaign tactics including mailings that were “negative.” “My opponent was very comfortable asking people for money,” she said. “So he was able to do some mailings that I think were negative and untrue, but maybe did have an impact on people that received it.” One of those mailings may have been the ones that Outling sent out that noted that Greensboro was ranked as the state’s most dangerous city. TCB reported before that the data was misleading. Outling, who works for Brooks Pierce law firm, had far outraised any other mayoral candidate with $144,992 cash on hand by the end of 2021.


OPINION | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022


EDITORIAL Ted Budd makes Thom Tillis look like AOC


ep. Ted Budd is off the rails. I mean, the guy is looking to upgrade from his Congressional post to one of North Carolina’s Senate seats. He’s already won the primary — in no small part because of Donald Trump’s full-throated endorsement. But it’s like he didn’t read the playbook on how to win a statewide election: Use the primary to appeal to your base, and then tack towards center to win over voters in the general election. Remember, he’s got to beat former NC Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley, who has outraised him by almost $10 million through June. And despite his most sincere hopes and wishes, this is a purple state where registered Democrats still outnumber registered Republicans by a few hundred thousand and independents outnumber them both. But Budd, who rose to prominence in North Carolina by posting obnoxious billboards for his gun shop and then winning a crowded primary in a stacked district for his Congressional seat, has been leaning even harder into extreme positions that, simply put, North Carolinians do not like. For example: More than half of us want to keep or expand current abortion access in the state, yet Budd supports a near-total abortion ban, aligning with about 10 percent of the country. On July 15, he voted against a bill that would

protect the freedom to travel for an abortion, part of a run of recent votes that run to the extreme. The next day he voted against marriage equality, which has never been more popular in this country — 71 percent approve. On July 21, he voted against Rep. Kathy Manning’s Right to Contraception Act, which ensures Americans’ right to birth control, a position that 96 percent of us align with. Minority rule is alive and well in NC, but Budd would do well to remember that you cannot gerrymander a statewide election. And he should perhaps look to our sitting senator, Thom Tillis, who is plenty conservative but knows which way the wind blows in his home state. Last year Budd went against the infrastructure bill, which was supported by Tillis and also Sen. Richard Burr, for whose seat Budd is competing. This year, Tillis supported a bipartisan gun-safety compromise; Budd went against the House version of the bill, though 68 percent of Americans supported it. Tillis has also expressed support for marriage equality. And let’s not forget how he got that Trump endorsement: By voting against impeachment, twice, and by voting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. This, while Tillis joined a bipartisan effort to reform the Electoral College and prevent something like that from happening again.

Let’s not forget how Budd got Trump’s endorsement: By voting to overturn the election.


Jen Sorensen

John Cole


by James Douglas


In the Weeds: The Parking Lot Whisperer

eddy strolls in, and while Oh shit, here we go, runs through my head, I smile and greet him with a warmness that feels like it doesn’t reach my eyes. Fun fact: I am a terrible poker player. I’ve no reason to harbor any type of ill will towards Teddy. He’s always been nice, cordial and informative to me. We shake hands, exchange pleasantries and get down to the business at hand. Teddy has a job that has received the ire of downtown Winston-Salem lately, and as I’m guilty as anyone when it comes to fanning those local flames of judgment, I think he knows it. Despite all the gossip that has popped up on Reddit threads and Facebook posts, Teddy considers himself the Parking Lot Whisperer. He’s not far off. He takes a sip of his beer and nods at the lot behind me, asking what the reactions have been like. Teddy Schuhle runs the Winston-Salem branch of SMART PARK. Based in Florida, they’re becoming the go-to for parking management in many cities across the US. His branch has slowly, methodically, taken over management of many of the privately owned lots in and around downtown Winston. They’ve popped up in places where multiple nightspots crowd each other for spaces. I’m sure you’ve seen them: the numbered green signs that now adorn your favorite (secret!) place to park for free in the greater Winston-Salem area. There’s a link to pay a fee on the free app you must download. As we move into a world of automation and less privacy, the gatekeepers of old that read paperback Westerns as they checked cars in and out have now been replaced by sleek cameras that have no need of Louis L’Amour.

In the last few years, public free parking spots, especially ones available during the day, have dwindled in downtown Winston-Salem. PHOTO BY JAMES DOUGLAS

Winston has grown exponentially in recent years, and parking has reduced considerably. That’s no reason to think that it’s still not available. Compared to other cities, the layout and planning of city-owned decks with the abundance of private lots in the downtown area isn’t terrible. However, the gut reaction to seeing that sign in a spot that you’ve spent years cultivating a special relationship with is akin to the rare betrayals in life like when I found out Pee-Wee Herman was actually Paul Reubens. It doesn’t help when you read horror stories about $85 fines when the charged $2-$4 goes unpaid. Teddy shows me a receipt that a business owner down the street sent over to dispute. “It’s not $85 dollars.” It’s $45, and even that can be disputed. Many parking issues can. Say that someone has had too much to drink and they have to leave their car overnight. “We can work with that,” he says. He assures me that he doesn’t want to tow or boot any cars. “Why would I want to tow someone for going to dinner?” he asks. “North Carolina has no price restrictions on towing fees, I’ve seen some places that charge $320 for a tow.” The one constant I’ve seen with Teddy is that he’s making a point to not be some autonomous cog in the wheels of capitalism, where everything in our society except public libraries are becoming monetized. He’s actively a part of downtown. He wants it to thrive. He lives here, walks his dogs here and frequents many establishments. He’s on a first-name basis with business owners and workers. He’s putting a face on something that would


CULTURE | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022


otherwise not give a damn about the people downtown. These transitions are the norm elsewhere. When faceless conglomerates purchase properties downtown like they’re your annoying little shit of a cousin having a run on a Monopoly board, it’s the natural progression of the Way Things Are Now. But some people have a job to do, and they operate ethically with what they’ve got. Teddy finishes his beer. “We don’t want to come in here, sweep everybody up and push everyone out because we want the [Downtown] growth,” he says. The days of free parking are ebbing. However, there are options. Street parking is free after 6 p.m. (Fun fact: the meter readers get off work at 4 p.m.). Many decks are free on nights and weekends. Monthly fees for a spot in a deck can be $42 dollars. Yes, it sucks. Yes, there are ways that city leaders can manage private growth on their own terms with the culture of the citizenry in mind instead of bank coffers. With any urban growth and renewal (and yes, gentrification), there comes a time when the “Outside Money” starts moving in. Granted, there are some who rebuild abandoned industrial areas and put them to use again. They do the research on the unique social dynamics of the area in question, and genuinely try to make something that is inventive and approachable by everyone. Those places thrive and can still charge for parking. Then, there are others who sweet talk city councils while investing in generic concepts, building low bid/high rent whatever (also generic), raising prices on lattes and cultivating their own bland culture to attract people with an attitude of “Damn the scene you want, this is the scene you get.” We are numbers to them and nothing more. After speaking with Teddy, I’m convinced he’s not a part of this latter group. I could tell you who is, but that’s for another column. Hell, that’s a book.

Spacious outdoor amphitheater | FREE Midday Mountain Music Music Center Road, Galax, VA | Parkway Milepost 213 (866) 308-2773, ext. 212




Vegan scene in Greensboro grows with first plant-based, brick-and-mortar fast-food restaurant Romeo’s Vegan Burgers by Sayaka Matsuoka Romeo’s Vegan Burgers, a business based out of charlotte, opened their first Greensboro location a few weeks ago on Tate Street near UNCG. PHOTO BY JULIET COEN


onty “Tigo B” Faulkner and Lamont Heath are Geminis. That means when businesses shut down and the world receded in on itself during the pandemic, the two entrepreneurs found themselves itching for a creative outlet. “We were all quarantined in the house,” Heath says. “We started playing around with recipes and dipping sauces. We had family members try the food out. That’s how we came up with the idea.” Faulkner, who goes by “Tigo B” on stage, and Heath, are the two co-owners of Romeo’s Vegan Burgers, an all-plant-based fast food enterprise that opened up its Greensboro location a few weeks ago on Tate Street near UNCG. As music partners, the two have toured across the country and witnessed the food scenes in other cities. And being vegan, they noticed that whenever they would come back to North Carolina, they would miss the myriad of options they had elsewhere. “We’re constantly traveling as music partners and are always looking for vegan options to eat,” Faulkner says. “On the west coast, there’s a lot of vegan options but in the South, there aren’t that many options.”

In 2020, while, the two friends decided to put their efforts into starting a vegan business out of Charlotte while they were stuck at home. “The original plans were to do a brick-and-mortar, but in the midst of trying to find a location and buying restaurant equipment, the pandemic hit,” Heath says. “They shut all the restaurants down, but being as how food trucks were still out and people still wanted to eat out, we decided to do a food truck centralized in Charlotte.” The response was incredible, so in December 2021 the two opened up their first permanent location, complete with a drive-thru, in the Queen City. “From the first day we opened there were lines,” Faulkner says. “People received us really well. Although there are vegan options in Charlotte, there still aren’t a ton. We had 120 people waiting outside that first day.” Now, just seven months later, the duo have opened up a location in Greensboro, a city that’s close to both of them. Heath, who owns multiple businesses in Greensboro, told Triad City Beat that he grew up in the city. “Greensboro is more of our home base than Charlotte is,” he says. “I felt like when an opportunity presented itself, I felt like it would be a good idea to bring it to our home.”


CULTURE | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022





The restaurant’s most popular burger is the Where Art Thou Romeo Burger which is topped with house sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, cheese and pickles.

Since opening a few weeks ago, the business has garnered a lot of attention from local eaters both vegan and nonvegan. The draw, Faulkner and Heath say, is that the food is accessible. “We wanted to introduce more people to vegan food,” Faulkner says. “We wanted to create a space that was transitional, something that would be easy to transition to.” The move comes as other vegan businesses have found success in the Triad as well. In January, Brian Ricciardi of Dom’s in Winston-Salem — formerly known as Mozzarella Fellas — opened Radici, Greensboro’s first all-vegan restaurant, in downtown Greensboro. A few years before that in April 2020, Mike’s Vegan Cookout began making its rounds in the Triad, with a semi-permanent stop in Greensboro. The business, owned by Mike Roach, offers vegan burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and BBQ sandwiches. Since their opening more than two years ago, the business has catapulted and gathered a strong following locally. So much so that Roach is looking to open a brick and mortar in Greensboro by the end of the year. “We’ve been looking for places for a while now,” Roach told TCB. “We found a couple of great spots and we’re in the process of getting a contractor and making sure everything scales out in terms of our customers.” So far he’s looked at locations on Gate City Boulevard, Battleground Avenue, Lawndale Drive and Pyramid Village off of Wendover. While they don’t have a solid date for their opening yet, Roach says that opening their first brick-and-mortar in Greensboro is a natural progression of their business. “We started in Greensboro two-and-a-half years ago and now we’re there four days a week,” Roach says. “I pretty much know all my customers by name and they’ve supported us even through gas prices and inflation.” When asked about the Romeo’s location in Greensboro, Roach says he’s happy to see more vegan options in the area. “I’m thankful to see businesses like that come into play,” he says. “I feel like it’s a beautiful time and it’s going to keep growing. I’ve even thought of a vegan breakfast spot and also a fully vegan pizza place or vegan fried chicken. The options are unlimited.” As for Romeo’s, they looked to other popular fast food chains like Mc-


CULTURE | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022

Donald’s for both their menu and their aesthetic. They offer a number of different burgers — which use Beyond Meat or Impossible Burgers — including a Romeo Mac Burger which the two say is directly inspired by the classic chain. They’ve also got salads and vegan milkshakes. Their marketing is also inspired by old-school fast-food chains. “Being that we are in the music industry, we understand the importance of branding,” Faulkner says. “A lot of times when you go to a vegan restaurant, you have more of a hippy, rustic feel to it. It doesn’t have a commercialized feel to it. We wanted to bring it more mainstream, so we thought of more mainstream places like McDonalds.” Like the iconic cartoon characters like Ronald McDonald and Grimace, Faulkner and Heath say they wanted to create a mascot for Romeo’s that was fun and inviting for customers of all ages. In the end, they landed on a Bugs Bunny-esque rabbit decked out in a black jacket and jeans. The colors for the restaurant are bright, with shades of neon orange and green. “We want people to ride by and say, ‘That’s inviting to the eye,’” Heath says. And that goes for the food, too. As two Black men who have been embracing the plant-based lifestyle for years, Faulkner says that they wanted to make sure to make veganism accessible and interesting for their community. “Within the conscious Black community, veganism has been a thing for a very long time,” he says. “Before the death with Nipsey Hussle, he was about to do a vegan documentary. So it has been popular, but in mainstream Black communities, maybe not so much. So we were wanting that you’re not going to miss out on flavor because it’s plant-based.” For now, the business is focusing on burgers but they have plans to start a Buffalo chicken burger soon too. Plus, they can’t say where, but they’re already working on a third location of their business, Heath says. “The sky is the limit,” Faulkner says. “We’ve been able to see businesses grow within veganism, like with Slutty Vegan in Atlanta. It’s inspiring. So, for us, there’s no limit on this. We would love to see Romeo’s Vegan Burgers on different continents. We don’t want to just keep it local; we want to spread the good vegan food all around.”

Learn more about Romeo’s at Orders must be placed in store for the Greensboro location. Follow Mike’s Vegan Cookout for updates on their Instagram at @mikesvegancookout.


CULTURE | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022




n Sept.16, 2017, Hurricane also learned the business aspects of Maria struck and delivered a running a kitchen and what it took to own deadly blow to parts of the Caa restaurant. However, the experience was ribbean, including the islands different than when he started working at of Dominica, Puerto Rico and St. Croix. Mi Pueblo. The hurricane was reported by various “When I came here, everything was brand news outlets as the worst recorded natural new. I didn’t know how they worked in disaster for the area. the restaurants here,” Vazquez shares. “[When] the hurricane hit the island, we “[Working at Mi Pueblo] was an inspiration by Luis H. Garay were practically our own community,” says for me, [learning] how they work the bar Andres Retamales. “There was no commuand the kitchen. It was a dream for me nication anywhere. If you wanted to hear and I thought, I wish I can get a restaurant any news stories or what was going on you someday.” had to hear it on the radio station in [your] Old San Bar and Grill opened its doors car.” with a soft launch in early April 2021. In Retamales is one of the creative minds the beginning, people curious about the behind Old San Bar and Grill, a Puerto new place would leave once they heard it Rican restaurant in Greensboro. He shares was no longer a Mexican restaurant but a how the area “was pretty disastrous” and it Puerto Rican restaurant instead. was eight months before many people had “This used to be Pedro’s Tacos,” Reelectricity or water. Five years later, accordtamales says. “They still thought it was ing to Andres, there are still communities Mexican food. When we would say it was that have no electricity or no water. Puerto Rican food, they used to leave. We In 2018, CNN estimated that 130,000 needed people to stay.” people, or almost 4 percent of the populaSeizing an opportunity, Vazquez, Retation, left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. males, and her brother Andres, the recipe A 2018 report published by the Center for developer, added a Puerto Rican and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, Mexican fusion section to their menu with CUNY used school enrollment data and dishes like tacos, quesadillas and arroz change-of-address requests collected by con pollo. Stepping outside of just Puerto PHOTO BY LUIS H. GARAY Rican food to create Latin-fusion dishes FEMA to track the relocation of Puerto Ricans to mainland USA after Hurricane allowed the restaurant to serve familiar Old San Juan’s menu fuses Puerto Rican flavors with familiar Latin dishes. Maria. According to this report, most of dishes but with a unique Puerto Rican the evacuees from Puerto Rico to North Carolina settled in the central and flavor. southeast parts of the state. Enter the bori-bowl, an idea born from Retamales herself. It’s constructed For Andres’ sister, Andrea Retamales, and her husband Wilfred Vazquez, with a base of white rice layered with red or black beans and a choice of it was the impact of Hurricane Maria that brought them to the Triad. They protein from fried chicken chunks to sauteed vegetables or chorizo. A red are two out of the four owners of Old San Bar and Grill, a Puerto Rican and onion and cilantro aioli tops off the dish. In an age of Instagram-worthy, Latin-fusion family-friendly restaurant located off Tate Street above China aesthetically pleasing bowls like smoothie bowls or grain bowls, the boriWok. The space has undergone multiple changes in the last decade but bowl is both familiar in its design and new in its fusing of flavors. has almost always been a Latin restaurant, most recently Pedro’s Tacos. “It is not a Puerto Rican dish, specifically,” Retamales says. “It has rice, Retamales and Vazquez’s original goal was to open a food truck, and beans, and meat. The cilantro, the aioli, and onion is not really our thing. so they began searching for potential commissary kitchens to prepare the But it is a really good seller and people really like it.” food. Andres Retamales is what Vazquez calls, “the mastermind of the rec“We were looking for owners of restaurants to see who could rent a kitchipes.” He developed many of the first recipes and learned to adjust his en to open the food truck because that was the main idea,” Vazquez says. cooking style for a bigger group of people. The search eventually brought them to a conversation with the former “For the recipes I started, it was what my mother taught me,” Andres owner of Pedro’s Tacos who had closed the restaurant due to impact from says. “That is what I tried to match. If it tasted like home, then I thought the pandemic. Vazquez and Retamales were presented with the opportunithis could sell.” ty to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant instead. It was a step into a dream The restaurant is a point of pride for the entire family. After the uncertainfor Vazquez after the devastation of the hurricane. ty brought by Hurricane Maria which upended their lives, they’ve been able Retamales arrived in the Triad in the weeks after Hurricane Maria along to anchor themselves in Greensboro while continuing to champion their with members of her close family while Vazquez stayed behind for sevhome country. eral months before relocating to the Triad. They both immediately began “I feel proud we are making something different,” Vazquez says. “I feel working at local Mexican-chain restaurant Mi Pueblo. Vazques secured proud representing our island.” a management position using his five years of management experience from working at Retamales’ father’s restaurant back in Puerto Rico. He Follow Old San Bar and Grill on Facebook or check out their website.

After tragedy, family brings Puerto Rican flavors to Greensboro


North Greene Street, Greensboro

SHOT IN THE TRIAD | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022


Supporters toast Mayor Nancy Vaughan at the end of a nail-biter election night in Greensboro on Tuesday. Vaughan, who has been mayor since 2013, beat District 3 city council member Justin Outling by 425 votes (at press time).


PUZZLES | JULY 28 - AUG. 3, 2022


CROSSWORD by Matt Jones


‘ Finished at the Bottom ’ — bottom row on your keyboard, that is

1. One of the former Dutch Antilles 6. H.S. diploma alternative 9. Oceanic movement 13. Hacienda homes 14. “Better Call Saul” costar Seehorn whose name is pronounced “ray” 16. Open up ___ of worms 17. *Casual term for a trio of great European composers 19. Half of a golf course 20. *Got a little rest 22. One of 17-Across 25. Simple 26. Feel discomfort 27. Greek vowels 30. “Please stay!” 31. Lip shiner © 2022 Jonesin’ Crosswords ( 33. In layers 35. Percolate 11. “Mother” metal performer Glenn 36. *Variant bingo wins that are really just 12. “Romanian Rhapsody No. 2” composer both main diagonals at once Georges 37. “A horse is a horse” horse 15. Shakespeare’s Bottom had the head of one 41. Dealer’s request 18. Junkyard car’s coating 43. Other song on a 45 21. Clarinet relative 44. When, colloquially 22. “Are you using your own ___?” (self check47. Lion’s exclamation out query) 49. “Down with thee!” 23. Stir (up) 50. Hubble with a space telescope named 24. Lotion additive after him 28. Ended in ___ 51. Restaurant employee 29. Icelandic post-punk band ___ Rós 53. *Requirement for drawing a dragon, 30. Pediatricians, e.g. according to Strong Bad (to add teeth, “spini32. *They’re actually different letters than the ties,” and angry eyebrows) ones with the tildes 58. Like an easy job, slangily 34. Former Canadian baseball player 59. *IRS forms used to report business income 36. “Dynamite” K-pop band or loss 38. ___-To-Go (Fortnite item for immediate 63. “Chocolat” actress Lena teleports) 64. “The Ballad of Reading ___” (Oscar Wilde) 39. Actress Falco 65. Moroccan capital 40. Woodland grazers 66. Air France fleet members, once 42. Half a “Mork & Mindy” signoff 67. Actor Sheridan of “Ready Player One” 43. Display of daring 68. Casual stroll 44. Artworks painted on dry plaster 45. Anheuser-Busch nonalcoholic brew 46. Fesses up proudly Down 48. Blown away 1. Stage routine 52. Five Pillars religion 2. “Go team!” cheer 54. Flavor enhancer that’s “king of flavor,” in 3. Practical purpose Uncle Roger videos 4. Unit of cookies 55. Aspiring doc’s exam 5. Makes embarrassed 56. Ship greeting 6. Kinnear of “Little Miss Sunshine” 57. TV component? 7. “___ (Nothing Else I Can Say)” (2008 Lady 60. Fall back gradually Gaga song) 61. Orioles legend Ripken Jr. 8. Good thing to stay out of 62. Part of many Quebec place names 9. *Neutral-colored candies discontinued in 1995 10. Least welcoming



© 2022 Jonesin’ Crosswords (