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R.E.M. was one of the bands I played on repeat in high school. When they announced a concert at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, I drove from my hometown in eastern North Carolina to a Raleigh record store and bought four tickets (Remember how things worked before Ticketmaster?) A friend claimed one ticket, and his friend claimed another. We couldn’t give the fourth ticket away — no one in my small town had a clue who the band was and why we’d drive more than an hour away to see them. Two years later, I saw R.E.M. again at the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill, and everyone knew who they were.
R.E.M. was just one of several musical acts who got their start in tiny Athens, Georgia. Like other college towns, Athens is a hub for creativity. When I visited there for our travel feature on page 112, it felt like going back in time. Aside from a Chick Fil-A and a Ben & Jerry’s, downtown was mostly filled with homegrown restaurants, shops, bakeries and of course, bars. I’d never been there before, but it brought back all the feels.
I had just as much fun checking out Knoxville, a larger city that’s perhaps less entwined with its local university (Tennessee) but still has a bit of that quirky creative energy you can only find in college towns (page 118). It’s part of a trio of college-town stories we feature this month — contributor Vanessa Infanzon also shares a few tips for a weekend in Durham (page 115).
I realize I’m waxing nostalgic — I just get giddy whenever I set foot on a college campus. (I’m 100% sure I enjoyed college tours more than my high-school kids when we visited schools together.)
For many reasons, including skyrocketing tuition and students and professors who prefer Zoom to in-person instruction, it seems like more and more kids now are forgoing the traditional college experience. And I’m sure they’ll turn out just fine. Still, I wouldn’t trade my college experience for anything. You can’t turn back the clock — but you can have a lot of fun pretending for a couple of days.
IN THIS ISSUE:
1 - Chantilly Ecological Sanctuary photographed by Art Howard, page 22
2 - Restaurateur Augusto Conte photographed by Peter Taylor, page 94
3 - An Eastover home designed by Hadley Quisenberry and photo graphed by Dustin Peck, page 100
4 - The historic UGA arch in Athens, Georgia
5 - Tea service at The Tennessean Hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee
Four nature preserves and sanctuaries within 15 miles of SouthPark.
Charlotte artist Barbara Ellis finds her creative sweet spot with abstract art.
A mother-daughter duo brings their love of New York style to Charlotte.
Closet crush: Jenn Waugh
First look at The Garrison, a restaurant and cocktail bar in Pineville.
with a warm and cozy vibe
new and coming soon in Charlotte
calendar of events
Joel Finsel mixes books and bourbon.
Jim Babb: A Charlotte broadcasting pioneer’s innovative career
prayer of gratitude for the lives that touch us
importance of storytelling in communicating with
galas and events around Charlotte
Theatre Charlotte is ready to raise the curtains again at home in Myers Park.
ABOUT THE COVER
Beef bourguignon by Chef Patrick Garrivier of Patricks Gourmet.
by Justin Driscoll.
Charlotte Asheville Boone andrewroby.com
making it home since 1950
89 | Gourmet gatherings by Michelle Boudin Charlotte chefs run fruitful catering businesses — and share their favorite holiday dishes.
94 | Serving up hospitality by Kathleen Purvis photographs by Peter Taylor
Augusto Conte, one of Charlotte’s most prolific restaurant owners, flies below the radar.
100 | Color me happy by Blake Miller photographs by Dustin Peck
Hadley Quisenberry designs a vibrant home for a family of five.
111 | Off campus Three cities for a quintessential college-town experience.
112 Talk about the passion: Athens, Georgia
115 Bank holiday: Durham
118 Right-sized adventure: Knoxville, Tennessee
“ Where beautiful homes begin.”
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by Old North State Magazines
people, places, things
At the freshly renovated former Dairy Queen building in Plaza Midwood, milkbread — the long-awaited fast-casual café from restaurateurs Joe and Katy Kindred — is now open. The second location of milkbread (the first opened in Davidson in January) marks the Kindreds’ first foray into Charlotte. The iconic 1950 structure was given a new look while maintaining a nostalgic, midcentury appeal. Expect comfort foods like milkbread doughnuts, cinny rolls and crispy chicken biscuits, plus toasts, bowls and salads. As an homage to the former Dairy Queen, soft-serve ice cream is also on the menu. The café is walk-up service only — order at the window and grab a sidewalk table, or take your food to go. Milkbread is open seven days a week from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. 1431 Central Ave., milkbread.com SP
FOUR NATURE PRESERVES AND SANCTUARIES WITHIN 15 MILES OF SOUTHPARK by Katie Toussaint photographs courtesy Wildlands Engineering/Art Howard
The average American spends 90% of their time inside. It’s easy to do – we get caught up working, running errands, cooking, caring for our families. Even when we’re out and about this time of year, it’s just too tempting to get cozy somewhere inside. Summit Coffee slings hard-to-resist hot drinks in its bright shop. Legion Brewing’s wood-fired grill beckons with its open-kitchen blaze. Even the SouthPark Regional Library, with its dry scent of books and snug reading nooks, quietly draws you in. But getting outside can do us so much good. According to the USDA Forest Service, green spaces
can help lower the risk of depression while speeding up recovery from psychological stress. Studies have also indicated that natural outdoor environments spark more motivation to move.
While SouthPark is a mecca for dining, drinking and shopping, the neighborhood is surprisingly close to natural gems. You just have to know where to look. Here are four Charlotte nature preserves and sanctuaries within 15 miles of SouthPark that you can visit for free.
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful respite or a rush of excitement, it’s easy to find. Bundle up and get outside this season – nature’s not far off.
CHANTILLY ECOLOGICAL SANCTUARY
Location: 222 Wyanoke Ave.
Distance from SouthPark: ~5.5 miles
Best for: A quiet, peaceful stroll
Follow Chantilly Park’s main walk and you’ll reach a point where it narrows and curves through tall shrubs and grasses. Keep going — the thin, dirt-and-grass path loops through the Chantilly Ecological Sanctuary at Briar Creek. This swath of land, previously home to apartment complexes that were prone to flooding, has been enhanced and restored, improving water quality, floodplain function, and habitats for wetland and aquatic wildlife.
A wet pond was added to the prairie-like atmosphere to capture stormwater runoff from the area — you can cross a couple of added bridges for easy exploring. Take the time to wind around the whole sanctuary for a good 1.5-mile walk.
EVERGREEN NATURE PRESERVE
Location: 1336 Norland Rd.
Distance from SouthPark: ~6 miles
Best for: A short, easy hike
With a small trail system that loops for about 2 miles, Evergreen Nature Preserve offers a quick escape from the city. This easy-to-overlook oasis near Sharon Amity Road is a heavily wooded stretch across 77 acres that features native canopy trees.
Peaceful and unchallenging terrain is ideal for both joggers and walkers, with the main Evergreen Trail branching into additional short trails. If you’re in observation mode, you just might see a little fairy land set up at the base of a tree. Walking an older dog or prefer sidewalk under your feet? The quarter-mile Norland Loop trail is a paved walkway that offers a curving burst of foliage.
REEDY CREEK NATURE PRESERVE
Location: 2900 Rocky River Rd.
Distance from SouthPark: ~13 miles
Best for: Trail running or a long hike
Welcome to a trail runner’s dream. More than 10 miles of trails cut through this preserve, which protects 927 acres of forested habitat along the Reedy Creek floodplain. Highlights include a nature center with educational programming, an 18-hole disc golf course and the largest dog park in the city: Barkingham Park.
A network of trails loops throughout the preserve with a range of terrains. For a complete escape from city sounds, make your way around the Sierra Trail. You’ll cut through thickets of trees and tall grasses. A short detour leads to the ruins of the Robinson Rock House, built in the late 1700s. The preserve is a habitat for more than 100 species of birds, including the Kentucky warbler and the broadwinged hawk. Be sure to pause on one of the bridges over the creek and take it all in.
Location: 15222 South York Rd.
Distance from SouthPark: ~15 miles
Best for: Lake views and adventures
As the oldest preserve in Mecklenburg County, McDowell Nature Preserve protects 1,132 acres of forested land. The preserve is home to a nature center, 8 miles of hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty and dozens of campsites you can reserve. Follow the .8-mile Cove Trail to take in the shore and cove. Pause at the waterfront deck overlooking Lake Wylie, the ideal observation spot for wildlife from great blue herons to belted kingfishers.
For adventurers, nature center manager Melissa O’Lenick shares that visitors can borrow free equipment like backpacks with gear to explore nature, binoculars and GPS units for geocaching. The nature center also offers guided hikes, kayaking, archery, stream explorations and live animal encounters for free or low costs. SP
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Art in motion
It’s easy to imagine Barbara Ellis adding to one of her large-scale abstract paintings with big gestures and movement. Her works have sweeping strokes and wide swaths of color that demonstrate the artist’s motion — stretching, bending, reaching and actively engaging with the canvas in her creative process.
That, Ellis says, is why abstract art-making is her creative sweet spot. She considers it her job to turn randomness into some semblance of order and balance. A collection of her works, Mutable Spirit: Respecting the Flow, will be on exhibit through November at the Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery inside the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Center, a collective art space that opened in uptown last year.
Her piece entitled “Lavender Dance” captures the spon taneity and emotion that defines Ellis’ approach to abstract expressionism. “I begin with music, typically jazz, that sup ports my mood and the idea I want to download,” Ellis says.
She often loosens up by marking the canvas with a drawing tool, allowing random marks to find a space. Then she adds paint using active body gestures. “I repeat this process layer by layer (sometimes incorporating collage) until a pleasing composition emerges. I then fine tune until my spirit says to stop,” Ellis says.
Ellis has the self-assurance of a seasoned artist, with a clear method for embracing her artistic freedom and expression. Her CV includes previous exhibits at Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art and GreenHill Center for North Carolina Art in Greensboro. She was also named to ArtPop Street Gallery’s class of 2016.
It’s a second career for Ellis, who retired to Charlotte after finishing a corporate career in her hometown of New York City. “Straddling corporate and art-making didn’t work for me. The job and the three-hour NYC commute con sumed most of my energy,” Ellis says. Soon after settling in
the Queen City, Ellis started connecting with the local arts community and eventually acquired studio space. She says it was an easy decision to pursue a creative career.
The foundation was always there. Born in Harlem, she came of age during the 1950s and ‘60s in a family where a love of the arts, especially jazz, was fed and flourished. Even in her corporate life, Ellis dabbled in art and continued to take classes intermittently.
It wasn’t until 2017, when Ellis attended an abstract art exhibit at Mint Museum Uptown that she had a life-changing a-ha moment about the direction her art would take. “I was already making abstract paintings, but those beautiful abstract works painted by women blew my mind,” she says. “I just knew that abstract action (gestural) painting was my
opportunity to transform repressed energy into form.” Soon after, Ellis participated in an art residency that focused on action painting. She’s never looked back.
Ellis says her best work comes out of an emotional response to an idea — “spiritual, socio-political, ancestral … whatever shows up.” The source could be a photo, experience or a memory. Each piece is so individual to her, she cannot name a favorite — nor does she have any preconceived expectation about what the viewer may take from it. SP
Mutable Spirit: Respecting the Flow opens at Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery at 700 N. Tryon St. on Nov. 5 with an opening reception from 6-9 p.m. It runs through Nov. 26. For more information visit vapacenter.com.
Shared passionby Cathy Martin | photographs by Amy Kolo
One of the silver linings of the pandemic was that it allowed some families to spend unexpected time together. Charlotte native Eloise Hamilton Reeves was living in New York City and working for Bank of America in early 2020, when the world came to a screeching halt. “My husband and I came back to Charlotte during Covid just to kind of ride things out, and then ultimately decided we love it here and wanted to stay.”
Eloise and her mom, Susan Hamilton, began reminiscing about shopping trips to New York City they started taking 15 years ago, when Eloise was still in high school. They’d explore Canal Street and Century 21, looking for bargains and uncommon goods. “We really like the hunt — hunting for a new cool thing that no one’s ever heard of,” Eloise says.
“We were talking about how many people had moved to Charlotte and how big the city was getting — and how much it was changing,” Eloise adds. “And, we just noticed that there are not that many places to shop here, relative to the population.”
With a shared passion for discovering unique styles, they came up with an idea for a boutique that channeled the spirit and energy of New York City. With little retail experience, they discussed their idea
with local stylists, retailers and friends. Then in 2021, Eloise quit her job with BofA and they began pursuing their plan in earnest.
Thirty-One Jane, their new boutique on Pecan Avenue where Plaza Midwood meets Chantilly, is named after a West Village building where Eloise lived for a couple of years. Susan lived there briefly, too, taking over Eloise’s lease after her daughter moved to another apartment.
“When we were coming up with the idea for the store, we knew we wanted to tie back somehow to New York City, because that’s the vibe and the energy that we wanted to bring to Charlotte,” Eloise says. “The thing that we shared, that we loved best in New York, was that Thirty-One Jane apartment.”
Concrete floors and exposed rafters lend an industrial vibe to the space, while warm accents and a comfortable seating area make customers feel at home.
“We wanted people to want to come in and feel like they were at someone’s apartment,” Susan says, gesturing to a needlepoint pillow made by her grandmother, one of several accessories she brought in to personalize the space. Kelley Vieregg
AT THIRTY-ONE JANE BOUTIQUE, A MOTHER-DAUGHTER DUO BRINGS THEIR LOVE OF NEW YORK STYLE TO CHARLOTTE.
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of KVID Interior Design helped with details such as the millwork, dressing-room draperies and built-in shelving, where a small selection of accessories and home goods are displayed at the back of the store.
Since the boutique opened in September, Susan and Eloise are still figuring out who their customer is. “The brands that we carry really cater to a wide range,” Eloise says. Some items skew younger, like Anine Bing T-shirts and knitwear from California brand Staud, while dresses and separates from Proenza Schouler White Label have a broader appeal. “I feel like the silhouettes that we have could work with multiple different types of people,” Eloise says.
While Susan loves helping customers find their perfect fit, Eloise handles the operations side of the business. But when it comes to buying, more often than not the two are on the same page.
“I would say that we’re creative dressers, maybe a little bit on the conservative edge, because we want an elevated look for our woman,” Susan says.
“We’re a good team,” adds Eloise. SP
Thirty-One Jane is open Tuesday-Sunday at 908 Pecan Ave. You can shop online at thirtyonejane. com, and the store plans to offer same-day delivery in the near future.
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Jennifer Waughby Whitley Adkins | photographs by Amy Kolo
Jenn Waugh is a Naples, Fla., native who has lived in Charlotte for almost 20 years. “I moved here from Boston, where I was for 15 years and worked in finance,” says Waugh, who has two daughters, four stepkids, two dogs and a cat. “We’re the Brady Bunch.” She and her husband, Al, are the co-owners of Reid’s Fine Foods and the Salted Melon Eatery & Market. Waugh is the former co-owner and editor of The Scout Guide Charlotte. These days, she works as a design consultant and is restoring a 1950s Cape-style home the couple bought two years ago.
Comments were edited for length.
PERSONAL STYLE, INTERIOR DESIGN AND SHOPPING
WHEN DID YOU START LIKING FASHION AND INTERIOR DESIGN?
I grew up in a clothing store that my mother ran in Naples that I worked in since I was 13 years old. My mother was always into interior design and clothing, and my great-great grandfather owned a dry-goods store in Grand Rapids, Mich., called Wurzburg’s — so three generations of store owners.
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
Color and print — I’m really into mushroom print right now.
DOES YOUR FASHION SENSE OVERLAP WITH YOUR INTERIOR-DE SIGN STYLE?
Yes, color in my wardrobe, in my home. Color makes you happy. It influences your emotions and energy, attitude — all those things. Clothing does the same for me. There are a lot of overlapping fashion and furniture designers right now. For example, one of my favorite designers, La DoubleJ, now has a whole line of homewares.
DO YOU HAVE ANY STYLE ICONS?
David Netto, Mary McDonald, Rachel Zoe and Olivia Wilde (world’s best accessory: Harry Styles).
WHERE DO YOU LIKE TO SHOP?
Poole Shop or Capitol. The Edit Sale, for sure — I would say that would be No. 1. I’m going early this time and loading up. I buy and sell there. Thirty-One Jane, a new store (at the crossroads of Plaza Midwood and Chantilly). I shop from Holly Phillips’ blog, The English Room. The famous Carrie Bradshaw line, “I’ve been cheating on fashion with furniture lately,” because of my home renovation — I’ve been buying knobs, countertops and tile.
I like Roksanda. I’m into Alice + Olivia — I can’t say it’s a lifetime thing, but I’m really into it right now. Rodarte, Mira Mikati, JW Anderson, La DoubleJ.
THIS OR THAT
Solids or patterns: Duh … patterns
Spring/summer or winter/fall: For fashion, spring and summer, but for weather, fall and winter, so you can wear something more than spaghetti straps.
Heels or flats: Block heels
Wardrobe staple or statement piece: Statement. I don’t have any basics!
Sunglasses or purse: Can I have both? I need both. I have so many sunglasses — I have a sunglass problem.
Theater or music? Musical theater all day long. I love Broadway shows. Or Harry Styles … musical theater or Harry Styles!
Interior design or fashion coffee table book: I love interior design.
Necklace or cuff: Cuff
Carryall or clutch: Crossbody
I COULD NOT LOVE YOUR CLOSET MORE. IT’S BASICALLY A COMFORTABLE ROOM. HOW DID THIS ROOM COME TO BE?
Leah Ward who owns Closet & Storage Concepts, came in. This was already a closet, but she envisioned it differently. She said, you need a dressing table near the window so you have natural light. She designed and implemented the whole thing, then I wallpapered it, got the antique mirror, the art, the lighting, the rug. Magically, everything I had from [my previous] house fit better in this house. It was like everything I had was made for this house — it was meant to be.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR CREATING AN ENJOYABLE DRESSING-ROOM SPACE?
Fill it with the color, textures, tactile things that make you feel good about being in the space. A lot of people go in their closet and feel yuck. Paint it the color you love, [add] a rug that feels nice when you
are barefoot changing. [Add] stuff you like to look at, things with sensory attractiveness.
WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON BUILDING A DESIRABLE WARDROBE?
I think you should buy what you love and what makes you feel good, and what fits. Do not buy anything unless it fits well.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE ITEMS IN YOUR WARDROBE AND WHY?
A little vintage Chloe bag. Isn’t he cute? With amethyst. It is from Capitol a long time ago. It’s purple, like ’70s rock chic. I love my Rodarte mushroom cape dress because it hides a lot of sins. I really do wear everything that I have.
DO YOU HAVE ANY CLOSET ORGANIZATION TRICKS?
The Home Edit from Nashville. Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine brand bought the company. They have a book and a Netflix special. [When I moved in here] I was obsessed with them, and I bought all of their stuff from The Container Store. Everything is color-coded like a crayon box — it’s brilliant. SP
Cocktails & chill
FIRST LOOK: THE GARRISONby Amanda Lea | photographs by Justin Driscoll
Tucked into a row of historic buildings, The Garrison is the newest addition to Pineville’s historic Main Street. The building that houses The Garrison was originally home to Pineville Loan and Savings Bank in 1910. Global Restaurant occupied the space for nearly six years before Kevin Devanney purchased it to create The Garrison. The cocktail bar and restaurant rolled out the red carpet (literally) to patrons on Sept. 30.
The name of the restaurant is a tribute to Devanney’s family, who immigrated from Ireland to England during the potato famine in the 1840s. “My family was in Birmingham [England] around the same time the Netflix series Blinders is set,” Devanney explains. “The Garrison is a pub in Birmingham that is a key part of the show.”
The Garrison is adjacent to Margaux’s Wine, Pizza & Market, Devanney’s first restaurant venture in Pineville that opened in 2021. The Margaux’s building was home to Devanney’s travel company, Incentive Travel Solutions, for 15 years. When his travel business was im pacted by the pandemic in 2020, Devanney did what many of us learned to do — he pivoted. He moved his travel company to another location in Pineville and used the space to bring his dream for Margaux’s to life. Devanney grew up on “The Hill” in St. Louis, a neighborhood famous for its Italian markets and restaurants. Inspired to bring a similar experience to Pineville, Devanney created Margaux’s, which specializes in St. Louis-style pizza and a hand-picked selection of Old World wines.
Margaux’s quickly cultivated a dedicated customer base. But Devanney, who owns five buildings in Pineville and is enthusiastic about breathing new life into
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the area, recognized a need in the neighborhood for a different restaurant concept. So when the owner of Global Restaurant was looking to sell the space next door, Devanney knew immediately it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“We had this vision of The Garrison becoming a natural gathering space for the community,” says Devanney, who is an entrepreneur at heart with a passion for hospitality. Restaurants and the travel industry, he says, share a similar goal: to deliver a “wow” experience. “It’s about hospitality,” Devanney says. “Whether that’s attending a private event at the Colosseum in Rome or enjoying a unique dining experience in downtown Pineville. People want to feel special, and I enjoy planning the details to make that experience come together.”
Devanney was devoted to restoring the space’s historic charm while introducing a design concept that is equal parts easygoing and refined. He tries to bring buildings back to their original state as much as possible. “We restored the white French tile on the ceiling and brought in a local artist to hand-paint gold touches on each tile. We also brightened up the walls and uncovered and refinished the hardwood floors.”
The design touches in The Garrison are reflective of Devanney’s travels, including communal tables handmade from Tibetan wood and light fixtures from Istanbul.
With multiple seating options — a main bar and dining room downstairs and a smaller bar upstairs — there are plenty of nooks to tuck away and sip one of The Garrison’s skillfully crafted cocktails. The menu features unique takes on classics like the French Martini (vanilla vodka, Chambord, pineapple and lemon), or the barrel-aged Old Fashioned (bourbon, agave, chocolate bitters, aromatic bitters and orange bitters). Signature cocktails include the You Can Call Me Honey (gin, spiced honey syrup,
Chef Logan Wright, who spent 10 years at Longview Country Club, is spreading his wings in this new venture with Devanney. “When Kevin told me about the concept and the name of the restaurant, it set my mind on this gastropub kind of experience,” Wright says.
The Garrison’s menu combines Wright’s Southern influences and Devanney’s international experiences. You’ll find traditional dishes such as pan-seared scallops with butternut squash risotto alongside Southern comfort foods, like crab hushpuppies and shrimp and grits. But the menu is also peppered with items that have a personal connection for Devanney and Wright. The toasted ravioli starter is a special request from Devanney’s St. Louis supporters. The recipe for the Cheerwine short ribs is inspired by Wright’s father. And the Firehouse #73 Burger is an homage to the parents of a 20-year-old firefighter who passed away while battling a fire in Pineville in 2016.
With a nod to the past and a wink at the future, The Garrison promises to be a place where people can gather and savor moments together. SP
The Garrison is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday and Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. and Thursday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. The Garrison and Margaux’s will serve brunch on Sundays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. starting Nov. 6. Reservations are recommended but not required. thegarrisonrestaurantnc. com, 314 Main St., Pineville, (704) 889-4277
More to come: The second floor of The Garrison will host live music and comedy shows on select dates. The space can also be reserved for private events. Be on the lookout in 2023 for a speakeasy-esque bar on the rooftop of Margaux’s that will be accessed through The Garrison.
Warm and cozy
Take the chill off this winter by making a reservation at one of these comfy, cozy restaurants around Charlotte. The ambience is warm and inviting — and in some cases, there’s an open fire to help set the mood.
300 East, Dilworth
Family-owned and operated for 35 years, this casual dining spot offers upscale comfort foods. Weekend brunch always draws a crowd to the rehabbed Victorian home with lots of cozy corners.
300 East Blvd. | (704) 332-6507 300east.net
Alexander Michael’s Restaurant & Tavern, Fourth Ward
Al Mike’s is a neighborhood favorite, whether you walked a few minutes or drove several miles to get there. For nearly 40 years, it’s served up a good selection of beer and simple meals — from burgers and sandwiches to pastas and London broil. The dark wood tones throughout lend a relaxed pub vibe.
401 W. 9th St. | (704) 332-6789 almikestavern.com
Since 2000, Chef Bruce Moffett’s original 45-seat spot has served farm-to-table fare in an intimate bistro setting.
7822 Fairview Rd. | (704) 364-5755 barringtonsrestaurant.com
Beef ’n Bottle, South End
Consistently ranked as one of the best steakhouses in local and national media, this old-school spot is practically a Charlotte landmark. Grab a cozy booth and enjoy a classic meal in this gem that looks much like it did in 1958 when doors opened.
4538 South Blvd. | (704) 523-9977 beefandbottle.net
The Crunkleton, Elizabeth
Upon walking in, you can’t miss the massive hearth where meals come together on cast iron skillets. Exposed brick walls, wood floors and supple leather seating add to the comfortable vibe. Expect classic cocktails and hearty plates.
1957 E. 7th St. | (704) 919-0104 thecrunkleton.com
Dogwood Southern Table & Bar, SouthPark
The emphasis here is upscale Southern cuisine and cocktails made with Carolinas-sourced ingredients.
4905 Ashley Park Ln. | (704) 910-4919 dogwoodsoutherntable.com
Dot Dot Dot, Montford/Park Road
Expertly crafted cocktails with snacks, shareables and mains in a speakeasy setting behind Park Road Shopping Center.
4237 Park Rd., Suite B | (704) 817-3710 dotdotdotcharlotte.com
Ever Andalo, NoDa
Described as an intimate European gastropub, restaurateurs Jeff Tonidandel & Jamie Brown launched the restaurant as a reflection of their food and travel experiences in northern Italy. Pastas, burrata, desserts and more are all made in-house.
3116 N. Davidson St. | (704) 910-6543 everandalo.com
The Fig Tree, Elizabeth
Located in the historic Lucas House, The Fig Tree draws diners in with its warm, antique woodwork, fireplace mantels and decor. Expect a seasonal French and Italian-inspired menu, plus an extensive wine list in this longtime fine-dining favorite. 1601 E. 7th St. | (704) 332-3322 charlottefigtree.com
Flour Shop, Montford/Park Road
Handcrafted Italian-inspired fare featuring locally sourced ingredients in an intimate setting. Stellar pasta dishes are the big attraction here.
530-A Brandywine Rd. | (980) 299-3754 flourshopfood.com
The Goodyear House, NoDa
This restaurant exudes homey comfort with its plank wood walls and rustic-yet-modern decor. With numerous dining areas — including large heated patios, covered and uncovered — guests
will want to stay a while as they nosh on a menu of comfort foods and shareables like devilish (egg) toast and smoked cashew mac.
3032 N. Davidson St. | (704) 910-0132 thegoodyearhouse.com
McNinch House, Uptown
This Four-Diamond restaurant is known as a destination for special occasions. Located in a circa-1892 Queen Anne-style home, the setting is regal and romantic with antique-filled rooms and jewel-toned walls.
511 N. Church St. | (704) 332-6159 mcninchhouserestaurant.com
Chef Bill Greene’s menu emphasizes seasonal produce from local farms and regional seafood. The menu is heavy on shareable small plates, served in an elegant, airy and modern space.
4620 Piedmont Row Dr., Suite 170B | (980) 283-2333 peppervine.com
Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen, SouthPark
Dark wood accents add to the warm welcoming vibe, but the front-and-center rotisserie and wood oven seal the deal for a cozy night out. Expect elevated comfort foods inspired by the concept of a chef’s home cooking.
6601 Carnegie Blvd. | (704) 366-8688 roosterskitchen.com
Stagioni, Myers Park
This Italian spot in the Villa feels warm and cozy the moment you walk in. The seasonal menu presents house-made pastas, wood-fired pizza and more. Grab a counter seat by the kitchen and watch the chefs in action.
715 Providence Rd. | (704) 372-8110 stagioniclt.com
Toscana Ristorante Italiano, SouthPark
A longtime favorite in SouthPark with a menu of Old-World and northern Italian cuisine and an extensive wine list.
6401 Carnegie Blvd., Suite 6-B | (704) 367-1808 conterestaurantgroup.com/toscana SP
Bonterra is now open at Phillips Place, serving dinner seven days a week with plans to add coffee and breakfast, brunch and lunch. Expect appetizers like the warm burrata, fried lobster bites and PEI mussels; entrees include a range of seafood options plus an apple-butter glazed double-cut pork chop, filet mignon and a roasted chicken breast with citrus barbecue sauce. 6809-A Phillips Place Ct., bonterradining.com
Gibson Mill Market, a 17,000-square-foot food hall in Concord, added six tenants last month, including Johnny Rogers BBQ & Burgers, Taco Street, Defined Coffee and Churn Buddies Ice Cream. Three additional restaurants will open at a later date. Gibson Mill is a former textile factory that closed in 2003 and is being redeveloped with retail, office space, breweries and more. gibsonmill.com
Figo36 opened in NoDa. The restaurant from Menagerie Hospitality Group (The Wine Loft, The Vintage Whiskey and Cigar Bar) serves house-made pastas, pizzas, tableside burrata service and more, along with craft cocktails and wine. 416 E. 36th St., figo36.com
Gone too soon
After a 13-year run, the Joedance Film Festival is ending. The festival was founded in honor of Joe Restaino, who passed away in 2010, four years after being diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. The festival raised funds for pediatric cancer research at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital. “We will continue to help focus money to support research for underrepresented pediatric cancer, just as we have been doing for years,” founder Diane Restaino said in a letter to supporters.
Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte permanently closed following its October production of Evil Dead The Musical. Executive Director Laura Rice cited continuing effects of Covid, disappointing ticket sales and the loss of a permanent venue as reasons for the closure. “For decades, we’ve been able to showcase Charlotte’s wide range of local talent, while providing a home for working artists to tell contemporary stories and entertain residents,” Rice says. “I hope ATC’s journey has made the path easier for another theatre company to fill the void we are leaving behind.”
A new aviation museum broke ground in September. The former Carolinas Aviation Museum will be renamed in honor of Capt. C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who landed the US Airways flight in the Hudson River in 2009 in what’s become known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.” The plane will be the featured exhibit at the museum, which also will include more than 45 historic aircraft, flight simulators, interactive exhibits and more. The 105,000-square-foot multi-building campus is adjacent to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. carolinasaviation.org
Southern Distilling Company in Statesville took home top honors at the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. The distillery’s Southern Star Paragon Cask Strength Single Barrel Wheated Straight Bourbon Whiskey won Best in Class and Best Overall Bourbon among more than 650 spirits. Southern Distilling was founded in 2013 by husband and wife Pete and Vienna Barger. Its products are available in 20 states. “We love wheated bourbons and chose this mash bill as the first one to distill at our facility,” Vienna Barger said in a news release. “As it reached five years in the barrel and was ready to bottle this year, we were very eager to hear what industry judges had to say about what we believed was an extraordinary bourbon.”
Matthews Community Farmers Market was named the best farmers market in North Carolina based on results of a poll by American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition. Shoppers, farmers, vendors and others voted on their favorite markets.
The New York Times named Leah & Louise among its 50 favorite restaurants in America. The article touts Chef Greg Collier’s Mud Island (“a perfect piece of blackened catfish with catfish stew”) and Leah’s Cabbage (“It will forever change how you think of cabbage”). SP
Events + activities
Louisiana X Charlotte Restaurant Night
Diners are invited to “pass a good time” at 14 of Charlotte’s top restaurants, as Louisiana and Charlotte chefs collaborate on a special culinary experience inspired by the Bayou State’s diverse regions. Participating restaurants include 300 East, The Goodyear House, Flour Shop, Haymaker, Supperland and Fin & Fino. Reservations are required for some locations. louisianaxcharlotte.com
Charlotte Symphony Gala: An Evening
With Rhiannon Giddens at Belk Theater
Nov. 5 | 8 p.m.
Resident Conductor Christopher James Lees and the Charlotte Symphony are joined by acclaimed singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens in a performance dedicated to celebrating North Carolina’s flourishing arts scene. Special Gala party tickets include a pre-concert cocktail reception, dinner and a post-concert
reception with Port City Shakedown band at the Urban Garden at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte. Tickets start at $25; Special Gala tickets are $200. blumenthalarts.org
Verse & Vino at Charlotte Convention Center
Nov. 10 | 6 p.m.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Foundation’s signature annual fundraiser celebrates the joy of reading with this highly anticipated event featuring a community of readers and New York Times best-selling authors. Featured authors include David Baldacci, Megan Giddings and Sarah McCoy. Tickets start at $200. foundation. cmlibrary.org/verse-vino
The Southern Christmas Show at The Park Expo and Conference Center
Wander down Christmas Tree Lane and sample some holiday treats at this festive event that is sure to get you in the spirit. More than 400 merchants will be on hand, including artisans from around the country,
and choirs and other entertainers will per form. Ticket prices vary. A special preview event on Nov. 9 from 5 to 9 p.m. costs $24 and includes free parking, hors d’oeuvres and more. southernchristmasshow.com
Novant Health Charlotte Marathon
Take part in one of Charlotte’s biggest races of the year. Choose from a mara thon, half marathon, 5K and relay events. Proceeds benefit Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital. Registration costs vary. thecharlottemarathon.com
Fall Horse Show at Anne Springs Close Greenway
Nov. 12 | 9 a.m.
A day of competition unfolds for eques trians of all levels at the outdoor horse ring. Riders can participate in more than 30 categories, from English equitation to barrel racing. Spectators can enjoy the spirited show and fuel up on provisions from a vari ety of on-site food vendors. Parking is $5 per car. ascgreenway.org
Persian Rugs & Antiques
The Southern Christmas Show
Rural Hill Sheepdog Trials and Dog Festival
One of the area’s best known dog events features the National Border Collie Shepherding Championships, Carolina Dock Dogs and Canine Agility Club Competitions. The whole family (including the fur kids) will enjoy the food, drinks, hayrides, local vendors, “pump kin chunkin” and more. Tickets are $11 for 13 and older and $8 for youth 5-12. Admission is free for children 4 and under. ruralhill.net/ rural-hill-sheepdog-trials-and-dog-festival
Local historian Tom Hanchett, Charlotte writer Kathleen Purvis and Keia Mastrianni of Milk Glass Pies will join Marcie Ferris (pictured), the editor of Edible North Carolina, at Park Road Books at 2 p.m. on Nov. 12 to discuss the book, an anthology of essays with photographs and recipes highlighting the state’s diverse food landscape. Other contributors include Triangle chefs Cheetie Kumar and Bill Smith and Durham chef and James Beard Award winner Ricky Moore. 4139 Park Rd.
4332 Monroe Rd Charlotte, NC 28205 www.thehearthandpatio.com 704.332.4139
M-F 10-6, SAT. 10-5
Mingle at the Mansion at The Duke Mansion
Nov. 15 | 5:30-9 p.m.
A pop-up shopping event to connect SouthPark readers with unique local retailers and artisans. Sip, shop and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and live music from Middle C Jazz. General admission tickets are $25; VIP tickets are $60. ticketmecharlotte.com
Reimagining Futures: A New Landscape for the Arts in Charlotte
Nov. 18 | 5:30 p.m.
This leadership symposium is a col laboration of UNC Charlotte’s Department of Dance and the India Association of Charlotte. The event includes performanc es and a panel discussion. Participants include Priya Sircar, Charlotte Arts & Culture Officer; Dimple Ajmera, Charlotte City Council; and Manoj Kesavan, Boom Festival. The conference is free, but registration is required. UNC Charlotte, eventbrite.com
VTGCLT’s Winter Market at Savona Mill
Nov. 19 | 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Spend the day uncovering unique finds
from some of the region’s best vintage and handmade vendors. Cozy food and beverage offerings will be stationed on-site to help you refuel for more treasure hunting. vintage-charlotte.com
Preservation Hall Jazz Band Presents Pass It On: 60th Anniversary Musical Celebration at Knight Theater
Nov. 19 | 8 p.m.
New Orleans legends and music masters are bringing the magic of the Preservation Hall to the Queen City, as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band embarks on a nationwide tour to celebrate the Hall’s 60th anniversary. Tickets start at $24.50. blumenthalarts.org
Dirty Dancing in Concert at Ovens Auditorium
Nov. 26 | 8 p.m.
Celebrate 35 years of not putting Baby in a corner with this live film-to-concert experience. Directly following the film, the band and singers will throw an encore par ty that is sure to take you back to the time of your life. Tickets start at $40. dirtydanc inginconcert.com
Museums + galleries
Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth at Harvey B. Gantt Center for AfricanAmerican Arts + Culture
Through Mar. 12
In collaboration with Levine Museum of the New South, this exhibition profiles revolu tionary men who have influenced the culture of the country, including Muhammed Ali, James Baldwin, W.E.B. DuBois and Kendrick Lamar. ganttcenter.org
Andy Braitman at Shain Gallery Nov. 4-17
Grounded in the desire to explore man’s connection with nature, Andy Braitman is known for his landscape paintings inspired by his childhood home in Wyoming and current residence in North Carolina. 2823 Selwyn Ave., Suite K, shaingallery.com
Mutable Spirit: Respecting the Flow at Nine Eighteen Nine Studio Gallery
Opens Nov. 5
This exhibition by Charlotte abstract artist Barbara Ellis is a reflective manifestation of “the perpetual and sometimes challenging
A Modern General Store
102B Middleton Dr. • Myers Park/Eastover @ruxtonmercantile_clt
In Conversation: Leigh Suggs + Asa Jackson at Hodges Taylor
This exhibition is the latest in a series intended to start a conversation between two artists and the viewer: A gallery artist invites another artist who inspires them to exhibit their work together. Leigh Suggs, a Richmond, Va., artist who was born in Boone, and Asa Jackson, a Hampton Roads, Va., artist, created work for this show “that focuses on the cycle of loss and birth … Akin to their interlaced approach to material and composition, all stories are connected; new ones woven from the threads of old.” The paper and fiber works will be on view through the end of the year at Hodges Taylor at RailYard South End. 1414 S. Tryon St., Ste. 130, hodgestaylor.com
quest for creative authenticity.” Even the most casual observers can experience the spontaneity, emotion and movement in each of Ellis’ works. 700 N. Tryon St., facebook.com/NineEighteenNine — compiled by Amanda Lea
Light Up your Holidays
in Historic Style
Unpack more than your decorations this season. In Winston-Salem, we’re o ering a whole new way to experience the holidays. And ours comes with 260 years of cherished traditions. Come join us — and spend an evening touring candlelit estates festooned with century-old decorations. Enjoy cocoa and carols and a million twinkle lights. Or feast your eyes — and soul — on Moravian love sweets you can only find here. So grab your keys. Reserve your favorite hotel. And experience the magic of Winston-Salem for the holidays.
MAGIC + MEMORIES
Historic Homes Tours and Holiday Experiences
CAROLING + COCOA Tanglewood Festival of Lights
Plan your well-cra ed getaway now at VisitWinstonSalem.com
HISTORY + TRADITION
Historic Holidaysat Old Salem
Renaissance bartenderWILMINGTON’S JOEL FINSEL MIXES BOOKS AND BOURBON. by Wiley Cash | photographs by Mallory Cash
When you sidle up to the bar before ordering a beer or cocktail, you probably don’t expect your bartender to have authored two books and numerous articles, have a graduate degree in liberal studies, or to be a leading advocate in the movement for historical justice. But if you know Joel Finsel and he is the one behind the bar, then that’s exactly what you would expect. You would also expect a very, very good drink.
One crisp day in early fall I spent an hour or so with Joel in downtown Wilmington at the Brooklyn Arts Center, a gorgeous, deconsecrated church that was built in 1888 and passed through the hands of numerous congregations before falling into disrepair and being saved by a public and private partnership in the late 1990s. Over the last decade, the Brooklyn Arts Center has hosted countless weddings, community events and concerts by musicians like Art Garfunkel, Brandi Carlile and Old Crow Medicine Show. The sprawling complex is now a busy hub of art, culture and celebration. I found Joel in the Bell Tower Tasting Room, ready and waiting to mix up a few cocktails that are perfect for the upcoming holiday season.
As Joel mixes our first cocktail — a mulled apple cider — I ask him how he’s been able to build a career as a bartender with one
foot in the literary world, another in modern art and another (apparently Joel has three feet) in bartending. He smiles. “I think I’ve always been attracted to chaos,” he says, which surprises me. Joel is one of the most measured people I’ve ever met, and to watch him work behind the bar is to witness a seemingly effortless precision.
The steaming hot apple cider is poured with bourbon and garnished with star anise, lemon and a cinnamon stick stirrer. It tastes like a winter evening, presents wrapped under the tree and the kids blessedly asleep before the chaos of Christmas morning.
I ask Joel about his childhood growing up in Lehighton, Pa., a small blue-collar town on the banks of the Lehigh River about an hour and a half northwest of Philadelphia.
“Until I was 5, my family lived in a trailer on a dirt road, 2 miles up along the side of a mountain. It was awesome because there were bears and deer, and you could just pick up rocks and there were orange salamanders everywhere,” he says. “And then my great-grand mother passed away and we moved into her house in town, which changed everything for me. I was suddenly in the middle of a small town, and I could walk to high school and there were girls there. And there was a basketball court nearby, which I pretty much lived at.”
The abstract expressionist painter Franz Kline also moved to
| creators of n.c.
Lehighton in his youth in the second decade of the 20th century. Joel’s mother had grown up in the area hearing stories about Kline and his work, and her interest led her to become one of the country’s pre-eminent specialists on everything from Kline’s paintings to his career and biography. When Joel was young, his mother began working on a biography of Kline, but it wasn’t until Joel graduated from college and was teaching school in Philadelphia that he asked for a look at the manuscript.
“I was home for Christmas, and I said, ‘Mom, what’s up with that book?’ I asked her if I could take a look at it. And then I realized what she had was a huge document of notes, but no structure.” Mother and son began working on the project together, and they would do so for over 20 years before Franz Kline in Coal Country was published in 2019, the first biography to examine this major American artist’s formative years in Pennsylvania, Boston and London before he became one of the founding members of the New York School.
The next cocktail Joel prepares is called the Cat’s Whiskers, a tipple of rye whiskey, honey syrup, fresh lemon juice and Angostura bitters that tastes like a party thrown by Jay Gatsby. If I were to turn and look over the balcony here at the Brooklyn Arts Center, I would almost expect to see a jazz band taking the stage, the audience filled with men in smart suits and women in flapper dresses, snow pounding against the stained-glass windows as the hour tips past midnight.
The book on Kline was not the first Joel had published. During a long career as a bartender — one that began in college and would lead to reviews and spots in publications like Bartender Magazine, Cosmopolitan and a profile in Playboy as one of the country’s Top 10 Mixologists — Joel had accumulated countless stories from co-workers and patrons, many of which he recounted in his 2009 book Cocktails & Conversations, which expertly mixes barroom lore with the histories of mixology and cocktail recipes.
One bar customer who had an enormous influence on Joel’s life was the abstract expressionist Edward Meneeley, a contemporary and friend of artists like Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol. Joel and Meneeley met while Joel was in college at Kutztown University and working at a bar across the street from Meneeley’s art studio.
“Ed introduced me to mixing things like Campari and soda back in the day when everyone drank Captain and Coke, circa 1998,” Joel says. “Ed would come into the bar and throw his old copies of The New Yorker at me and tell me I needed to educate myself out of this town, so I got to know the work of the magazine’s art critic Peter Schjeldahl pretty well. I wasn’t even 21 yet. I started tending bar at 18, which was legal.”
The next cocktail Joel makes is called Lavender 75, and while it doesn’t include Campari, the West Indian orange bitters combine with gin, fresh lemon, lavender syrup and a splash of dry Champagne to give the drink a complex and layered taste.
When Joel and his wife, Jess James (who owns a vintage clothing boutique in Wilmington that is a habitual stop for Hollywood actors when they’re in town filming movies), moved to town in 2005, Joel brought his two main interests south with him: mixology and contemporary art. He took a job as the bartender of Caffé Phoenix in downtown Wilmington and designed one of the first craft cocktail menus in the city. He also curated the art on the restaurant’s
walls, hosting artists like his friend Meneeley and Leon Schenker. Suddenly work by internationally known artists valued at tens of thousands of dollars was hanging where local art had once dominated the walls.
It was after a few years in Wilmington, where he eventually earned a master’s in liberal studies from UNC Wilmington, that Joel first learned about the 1898 race massacre, the only successful coup in American history that saw white supremacists murder untold numbers of Black citizens while overthrowing the duly elected local
government. He was shocked to learn that something so horrible had happened in a city he had quickly grown to love. After researching the events surrounding 1898, Joel co-founded the nonprofit Third Person Project, which is dedicated to uncovering and preserving history. One of the group’s first projects was gathering and digitizing copies of The Daily Record, which was the only daily Black newspaper in North Carolina before it was destroyed by a mob during the events of 1898. Since then, the organization has hosted musicians like Rhiannon Giddens, who came to Wilmington to perform the “Songs of 1898” at a 2018 event with Joel’s Third Person co-founder, writer John Jeremiah Sullivan. Third Person has gone on to lead Wilmington in efforts to save historic buildings, mark burial places and uncover lost histories, often by partnering with local institutions like UNC Wilmington’s Equity Institute.
On a smaller scale, Joel is also contributing to local history with the impact he’s had on its cocktail scene. The final drink he mixes — the True Blue — is a good example. He created it years ago when he designed the cocktail menu for the Wilmington restaurant True Blue Butcher and Table. The cocktail remains a fixture and, with its mix of pear-infused vodka, elderflower liqueur, lemon and Champagne, I understand why.
Our interview is over and, as Joel cleans up behind the bar, he tells me he plans to spend the rest of the afternoon working on an
essay about 1898. Cocktails, conversation, curating art, correcting history. It’s all in a day’s work.
Fresh, clean, bright. Designed after research into ancient Greek formulas for the “nectar of the gods.”
1 ounce Grey Goose La Poire vodka
1 ounce St. Elder elderflower liqueur
1/2 ounce fresh lemon (or about half a lemon)
Splash dry Champagne
Splash sparkling mineral water
Pre-chill a cocktail coupe and set aside. Mix vodka, elderflower liqueur and fresh lemon over ice in a mixing glass. Shake hard for at least 12 seconds. Discard ice from pre-chilled coupe. Strain mixture into coupe. Float Champagne and soda. Garnish by dropping in 3 blueberries or a thin slice of pear.
The Cat’s Whiskers
Substitute gin and it becomes The Bees Knees. Both are Roaring ’20s slang for the height of excellence.
1 3/4 ounces favorite bourbon or rye whiskey
1 ounce honey syrup (1:1 ratio of hot water to honey)
3-4 fresh mint leaves
1/2 ounce fresh lemon
2 dashes Angostura bitters (optional)
Splash sparkling water
Pre-chill cocktail coupe and set aside. Combine all of the ingredi ents over ice and shake for 12 seconds. Discard ice from pre-chilled coupe. Double strain into coupe. Garnish with fresh mint on top.
The classic French 75 cocktail was named after a cannon. This places a flower in the barrel.
1 1/2 ounces Botany gin
1/2 ounce fresh lemon
1 ounce lavender syrup (steep dried lavender flowers like a tea in hot water, then add sugar, 1:1 ratio)
3 dashes West Indies orange bitters
Splash dry Champagne
Splash sparkling mineral water
Pre-chill a cocktail coupe and set aside. Combine all of the ingredients over ice and shake for at least 12 seconds. Discard ice from pre-chilled coupe. Strain the chilled mixture into the coupe. Garnish with 3-4 dried lavender buds. SP
Wiley Cash is the Alumni Author-in-Residence at UNC Asheville. His new novel, When Ghosts Come Home, is available wherever books are sold.
Jim BabbA CHARLOTTE BROADCASTING PIONEER’S INNOVATIVE CAREER by Vanessa Infanzon | photographs courtesy Jim Babb
Jim Babb may owe his lifelong career in journalism and broadcasting to Dilworth Highlights and Headlines, the school newspaper at his Charlotte elementary school. Since then, he’s been devoted to telling stories and forwarding the television and radio industry.
Born in Manhattan, Babb’s family moved to Charlotte in 1937. In high school, he was a sports correspondent for The Charlotte News and The Charlotte Observer. He attended Newberry College on a football scholarship for one semester, then switched to UNC Chapel Hill to study journalism. Unable to afford tuition, he left after two years and joined the U.S. Army. A lieutenant noticed his love of writing and helped him land a public-information job covering sports at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C.
After completing his military obligation, Babb earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Belmont Abbey College in 1959. His first job at Charlotte’s WBTV required him to write promotional articles about TV personalities. He met his wife, Mary Lou, while hand-delivering the stories to The Charlotte Observer, where she wrote for the “women’s pages.”
He spent the next three decades with WBTV and its owner, Greensboro-based Jefferson-Pilot Broadcasting. He was the station’s general manager in the mid-1970s, then became an executive vice president in 1978 and the broadcaster’s CEO in 1988.
A tiff with longtime Jefferson-Pilot CEO Roger Soles prompted his departure in 1991. He soon became president of
Outlet Communications, a smaller TV and radio broadcaster headquartered in Providence, R.I.
He ended his career in 2018 as executive vice president at Charlotte-based Bahakel Communications. His achievements include an Emmy Award for lifetime achievement from the National Academy of Television and an induction into the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Babb, 90, served as president of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters and chaired boards connected to the National Association of Broadcasters, CBS Television Network Affiliates Advisory Board and YMCA of Central Carolinas. He has been a trustee at Appalachian State, UNC Charlotte and Belmont Abbey, and is a former member of the Board of Governors of the UNC System. When the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte ran its first $1 million campaign in 1982, Babb led the committee.
Babb stays active promoting higher education through the Coalition for Carolina and Higher Ed Works. “There’s a new group being formed called Majority Rising North Carolina,” he says. “We are trying to overturn some Senate districts to try to get a little more balance in the North Carolina legislature.”
Babb and Mary Lou, married 63 years, have five children and six grandchildren. The couple split their time between homes in Charlotte and Linville.
Comments are edited for length and clarity.
The story that got the most attention is one I wrote at Fort Jackson, about the football team. The football coach was a guy by the name of Beattie Feathers. It was an induction center. All these good athletes would come in, and they could keep them right there at Fort Jackson. I wrote the story and sent it to Jack Claiborne who was working at the Observer’s sports department then. Jack put it on the wire. It ran all over the Southeast. (Babb was a high school friend of Claiborne, who had a long Observer career.)
The story got surprisingly big play. I was shocked. Two days later, I get called in by the captain: “The general wants to see us.” We hustle over there. I’m still a Private E1. General Daly says, “You got me in trouble with General Bolling; it’s that story you wrote. It ran in the Atlanta Journal and he read it. He’s mad as hell I’m keeping all the
good football players. Don’t send out any more stories like that.” It was the first time I’d ever been criticized for doing a good job.
Ironically, even though Jefferson-Pilot loaned money to all kinds of broadcasters all across the country, they were more conservative with their own company. We had to do organic growth. We grew from one radio station in Charlotte, WBT, [then added WBT FM].
Originally, FM was a big money loser for everyone as we transitioned from AM. We bought stations in Atlanta, Miami and Denver. Those all proved to be very successful. Then we bought radio stations in San Diego.
Back in 1968, things were really getting complicated in keeping inventory [of advertising spots] and scheduling. I didn’t know a thing about computers then, or now, but I knew we needed a better system to handle our inventory. We just had a Mylar board with a grease pen. I was having lunch with Charlie Crutchfield, the president of Jefferson-Pilot, at Quail Hollow. I think they just had a tent back then before the clubhouse. I said, ‘We have to get a better system. We’ve got to look into computers.’ We assigned an engineer to head up the computer operations in Charlotte originally, then we did it for the other stations.
Everyone was having the same problems. We launched Jefferson Data Systems in 1968, and it grew quite well. We bought a company in Australia and one in New York that dealt with advertising agencies. It was backroom operations, contracts, inventory control. We grew the company into a $50 million company.
Living is easy at Epworth.
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Aldersgate is a 62+ Life Plan Community located on hundreds of acres. 3800 Shamrock Drive, Charlotte, NC 28215
new traditions UNWRAP
We started Jefferson Production Company back in the 1960s. We had a successful program called, “Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks.” They were great entertainers, and Arthur was a smart businessman. The show became so successful, Procter & Gamble wanted to run it in other Southern markets. It ran in 35 markets. Then they started producing national commercials. We also had a remote truck to produce sports events like NFL games for CBS.
After a while, the competition and the method of producing com mercials changed and became less and less profitable. By 1980, we moved from producing commercials to getting rights to sports events.
In 1982, we got the rights to what was then one of the top sports events in the country, ACC basketball. Then we got the rights to ACC Football. We launched ACC Football Network.
We did a partnership with Raycom Sports in 1982 and we made a bid for $18 million for three years [for ACC basketball.] No one had seen anything like it in the sports syndication business. It shook the business.
Roger Soles was the chairman and president of the company for much of the time I was there. He was very conservative. It was a challenge, to be honest with you.
[I said I would work for Outlet Communications] for two years until we could get someone else installed. It turned out to be the best experience I ever had in business. They were a very successful group of investors. They couldn’t have been better to me. I recommended they buy the Raleigh station [WNCN] and convert it to a CBS station, which I was able to do. I never made a recommendation or request that they turned down during the entire period. That’s the reason I stayed almost five years. SP
November 16 - 20
The Carolina Hotel
Opens daily at 10 a.m.
Admission by any monetary donationJim and Mary Lou Babb with four of their six grandchildren in Linville Babb with Walter Cronkite (middle), at the famous anchorman’s 1981 retirement dinner at The Four Seasons in New York City
My November song
A PRAYER OF GRATITUDE FOR THE LIVES THAT TOUCH US AND THOSE THAT AWAIT BEYOND by Jim Dodson
On one of the last warm mornings of summer, I was watering shrubs when I heard a heavy thump behind me in the garden. Turning around, I saw only half a dozen birds feeding at the three feeders that hang from our aged maple’s outstretched limbs. I walked over to investigate.
I found a large squirrel crawling desperately on the ground toward one of the young azaleas planted back in the spring. The critter had evidently fallen from one of the high branches and was either dazed or severely injured. As I approached, the big squirrel curled up at the base of the plant and burrowed its nose under the shrub’s branches.
My first impulse was to fetch a garden tool and end the poor animal’s suffering. But long ago I made a pact with the universe to cause as little harm as possible to creatures large and small, probably the result of reading too many transcendental poets and Eastern sages early in life — and
covering a great deal of murder and social mayhem during the first decade of my journalism career.
To my wife’s amusement (and sometimes horror), I’ve been known to gently escort spiders and captured houseflies to the door, return snakes to the wild and even grant the odd mosquito a reprieve to live and bother someone else another day.
Not counting the untold number of innocent garden plants I’ve inadvertently offed due to general ignorance or untimely negligence, I’ve generally abided by the naturalist maxim that it’s best to let nature take care of her own. For this reason, I went back to watering the shrubs for a spell, hoping the big fallen fellow was merely stunned.
Our little patch of paradise is a remarkably peaceful kingdom. Dozens of birds feed daily from the large feeders — a perpetual challenge to the squirrels that inhabit the forest of trees around us.
| simple life
Over the years, they’ve displayed impressive acrobatic skills and inventive ways to get at those feeders, prompting me to constantly come up with strategies to thwart their efforts. It’s kind of a fun game we play. Fortunately for them, the birds are absurdly sloppy eaters, accounting for considerable spillage on the ground that keeps both squirrels and young rabbits rather well fed. That’s the silent bargain we make to keep our little kingdom in natural balance.
When I walked back to check on the fallen squirrel, however, he was lying right where I left him, perfectly still. He was dead.
I picked him up to look him over. He was an older fella bearing scars, nicked-up by life. Perhaps he’d simply lost his grip, or just let go. It was impossible to know. In any case, it seemed only fitting to bury him on the spot where he lived out his final moments on this Earth — underneath the young azalea.
It was my second death of the week. Two days before, on a beautiful morning when the rains I’d been waiting and praying for all summer finally arrived, we decided to put my beloved dog, Mulligan, to sleep.
Mully, as I call her, found me 17 years ago, a wild black pup running free just above the South Carolina state line, literally jumping into my arms as if she’d been waiting for me to come along. She was my faithful traveling companion for almost two decades, even journeying along most of the Great Wagon Road for my latest book project.
Three days before we lost her, Mully made the daily mile-long early morning walk we’ve strolled together for over a decade. Never sick a day in her life, it was the rear legs of this gentle, soulful, brown-eyed border collie I called my “God Dog” that finally gave out. She hobbled painfully on three legs around the Asian garden I completed this summer and settled at my feet most evenings, as we sat together just watching the world. Her upward gaze told me it was time for her to go.
It was the hardest — but right — thing to do.
The idea of the afterlife for all God’s creatures — especially dogs — has fascinated me since I was a little kid. One of my first memories of life comes from a late autumn evening in 1958 when my mother and I were walking the empty beach at low tide near our cottage in Gulfport, Miss., looking for interesting seashells washed up from the Gulf of Mexico. November storms famously coughed up a bounty of unusual shells along the shore. It was my first lesson in immortality.
Our dog, Amber, had just died of old age. I was sad to think I would never see her again and wondered what happens when dogs and people died.
My mom picked up a perfect scalloped shell, pure alabaster white, and handed it to me.
“Tell me what you see in that shell,” she said.
“Nothing. It’s empty.”
She explained it had once been the beautiful home of a living creature that no longer needed it, leaving its protective shell behind for us to find.
“Where did it go?” I demanded.
“Wherever sea creatures go after this life.”
“Do you mean heaven?”
| simple life
She nodded and smiled. I’ve never forgotten her words.
“That’s where your dreams come true, buddy.”
“Same with Amber?”
“Same with Amber.”
A few years later, a marvelous woman named Miss Jesse came to help heal my mom after a terrible late-term miscarriage that nearly killed her. I often pestered Miss Jesse in the kitchen or when she took me along to the Piggly Wiggly. One evening I asked her why all living things had to die. She was rolling out dough and making biscuits at the time.
Her rolling pin kept working. “Let me ask you something, child,” she said matter-of-factly. “Do you remember a time when you weren’t alive?”
I could not.
“That’s because you ain’t never not been alive, baby. Nothin’ you love dies. It just passes on to a new life — just like the trees in spring.”
Half a century later, I heard the voices of both my mother and Miss Jesse in a powerful song called “Take it With Me” by bluesman extraordinaire Tom Waits.
I played it the day Mully left me. I’ll play it again when I spread her ashes in the garden she helped me create.
I play it, in fact, every year when the leaves begin to fall. It’s my November song.
The children are playing at the end of the day Strangers are singing on our lawn There’s got to be more than flesh and bone All that you’ve loved is all you own … Ain’t no good thing ever dies I’m gonna take it with me when I go
Due to summer’s extremely dry conditions in our small corner of paradise, the leaves fell early this year.
By the time we give thanks for this year’s tender mercies, missing friends, beloved traveling companions and even fallen squirrels that have graced our lives with their presence, they may all be safely gathered up to wait for us.
Somewhere where dreams come true. SP
Jim Dodson is a New York Times bestselling author in Greensboro.
A TrAdiTion of
You’re Invited to spend the day with Children’s Home Society of NC to beneﬁt children & families on Saturday, December 3!
Williams Automotive will be hosting the premier Charlotte Fill-A-Truck event at their Williams Buick GMC location during the day from 10:00am to 2:00pm Enjoy hot cocoa as you drop o items to fulﬁll a child’s wish list. To learn more: chsnc.org/hopeforholidays
7:00pm to 11:00pm
Bazal Gallery Nightclub 950 NC Music Factory Blvd Charlotte, NC
Enjoy an evening out, to include:
Heavy Hors D ’Oeuvres & Open Bar
Charlotte’s Favorite Emcee Fly Ty Diamonds Direct Mystery Box Ra e Silent & Live Auction, & more!
Purchase Tickets Here: chsnc.org/soiree
NOTABLE NEW RELEASEScompiled by Sally Brewster
Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story by Bono
Bono writes for the first time about his remarkable life, taking us from his early days growing up in Dublin, including the sudden loss of his mother when he was 14, to U2’s unlikely journey to become one of the world’s most influential rock bands to his more than 20 years of activism dedicated to fighting AIDS and extreme poverty. The book’s 40 chapters are each named after a U2 song. Bono has also created 40 original drawings for Surrender, which appear throughout the book.
Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson
Frankie Budge, a 16-year-old loner who dreams of becoming a writer, meets Zeke, also 16, who has just moved to town. Together they make a poster with the cryptic line, “The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us.” Thrilled at their creation, Frankie and Zeke make hundreds of copies on a photocopier stolen by Frankie’s triplet brothers, then post them around town. Copycats begin doing the same, and before long it becomes a nationwide mystery and phenomenon. Frankie and Zeke keep their involvement a secret until 20 years later, when a journalist finds out Frankie’s role. Confronted with the possibility of her secret coming out, Frankie goes on a quest to come clean with her family and reconnect with old friends.
None of This Would Have Happened if Prince Were Alive by Carolyn Prusa
Ramona’s got a bratty boss, a toddler teetering through toilet training, a critical mom who doesn’t mind sharing and a cheating husband. Then a Category 4 hurricane bearing down on her life in Savannah becomes just another item on her to-do list. In the next 48 hours she’ll add a neighborhood child and the class guinea pig named Clarence Thomas to her entourage as she struggles to evacuate. Ignoring the persistent glow of her minivan’s check engine light, Ramona navigates police checkpoints, bathroom emergencies, demands from her boss and torrential downpours while fielding calls and apology texts from her cheating husband
and longing for the days when her life was like a Prince song, full of sexy creativity and joy.
The Cloisters by Katy Hays
When Ann Stilwell arrived in New York City, she expected to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she found herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination. Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.
The Rebel and the Kingdom: The True Story of the Secret Mission to Overthrow the North Korean Regime by Bradley Hope
Adrian Hong was a soft-spoken Yale undergraduate looking for his place in the world. After reading a harrowing account of life inside North Korea, he realized he had found a cause so pressing that he was ready to devote his life to it. This nonfiction account chronicles Hong’s efforts to subvert the North Korean regime. In the tradition of Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, The Rebel and the Kingdom is an exhilarating account of a man who turns his back on the status quo — to instead live boldly by his principles. Acclaimed journalist and bestselling author Bradley Hope, who broke numerous details of Hong’s operations in The Wall Street Journal, now reveals the full contours of this remarkable story of idealism and insanity, hubris and heroism, all set within the secret battle for the future of the world’s most mysterious and unsettling nation. SP
Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books. 4139 Park Rd., parkroadbooks.com.
What’s your story?
THE IMPORTANCE OF STORYTELLING IN COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERSby Juliet Lam Kuehnle
As a psychotherapist, I have the privilege of listening to people’s stories and the challenge of working to discover the nuances within the overarching narrative. I have a particular interest in how people form and share stories. The way stories are told depends on the storyteller. I can hear the “same” tale from two different people, and it can vary wildly. We don’t realize how many factors influence our experience of an event, an interaction or a vignette.
Our self-concepts and core beliefs have a big impact on this framework, as well. We can paint ourselves or others as a hero or a villain in a story, just as we may also be the hero or villain in some one else’s account. The way we talk to ourselves is also in story form, as we create a narrative about something that has happened. Stories can be about self-protection, self-expression, education, connection, meaning-making and fostering understanding.
But storytelling isn’t just in narrative form. Stories are also told through art, dance, lyrics, food and so much more. Why does this matter? Brene Brown explains: “We’re wired for story. In a culture of scarcity and perfectionism, there’s a surprisingly simple reason we want to own, integrate and share our stories. We do this because we feel the most alive when we’re connecting with others and being brave with our stories — it’s in our biology.” Consider what you’re drawn to: It’s likely the passion and relatability that you connect with when you encounter someone’s expression of their story or when they listen to yours. The authenticity draws us in.
I recently spoke with Sam Hart on my mental-health podcast Who You Callin’ Crazy?! Sam is the owner and chef at Counter- and Biblio.
“I like to say that I am more of a storyteller than anything else,” Hart said when introducing himself. “That’s how the restaurant is set up to be. Counter- is a fine-dining, story-driven, progressive tasting menu, where on a seasonal basis we change not only the food that’s on the plate, but also the story that is the driving force behind them. And Biblio, which is opening up later this year, honors all the winemakers, vineyards and distributors’ stories through wine lists.” Have you ever had a meal that you just can’t stop thinking about or had a moment of silence after taking a bite of something stunning? These are the chefs who are truly connected to their food and their work and are communicating to you through their craft. This storytelling elevates the entire experience.
I asked Sam why storytelling is important to him. He shared that when he was a kid, he wanted to be an archaeologist.
“I would go hiking, and I would think to myself, ‘What was the last set of footprints that came before me on this same piece of land?’ And just thinking about the depth of all of those stories — that even though they happened over a different time, they all started off right here on this land.” Sharing in people’s stories has always been of
Sam Hart is the chef and owner of Biblio, a tapas and wine bar, and Counter-, which offers a 10-course tasting menu with themed music. Both are set to open this fall on West Morehead Street.
interest to him, so he found a way to incorporate that in his restau rant, making it one of the hottest tickets in town. His concept is also influenced by his life experiences. Sam graciously shared about his mental-health journey and how everything from experiencing child abuse to his diagnosis in adulthood with bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder has shaped how he exists in the world and relates to others. He is passionate about changing the narrative from one “struggling with mental illness” to one being “successful with mental illness.” In doing so, he lifts up the stories of others, with a particular focus on those who are underrepresented. This is illustrated through his menus and through his food.
Recognizing how we each tell our stories and how we listen to others’ stories is what connects us. It’s a driving force for how we feel about ourselves and how we navigate the world. Reckoning with our own stories, recognizing other’s roles in our stories, and attempting to understand the stories of others gives us a framework for our lives. This allows us to feel more agency in writing our new chapters and making sense of old ones. If we’re indeed wired for story, are you listening? SP
Juliet Kuehnle is the owner and a therapist at Sun Counseling and Wellness. The full interview of Kuehnle’s “Who You Callin’ Crazy?!” interview featuring Sam Hart can be found on Instagram @yepigototherapy or wherever you stream podcasts.
A House Like Somebody
Let me have a house who looks like Somebody
Not merely a building no ordinary listing.
A house who – when the sun hits his gable –looks ready to stroll or could even seem able to join in my joke with his light, easy frame or carry my drift in his hearth’s happy flame.
When the rain slides down his pointy, personal roof I’ll stay faithfully inside to witness his truth. I’ll put on the kettle and talk in a whisper As the wild wind weathers his sweet, sensitive shingles.
White snow and red leaves will make beautiful clothes
I’ll invite all my friends to See his season’s wardrobe. We’ll throw open the doors to October’s fresh air But when they go home Just me on the stairs.
Let me be married to his windows’ wry winking Ever persuaded by his chimney’s stern thinking Let me paint his door bright Like permission to beam (My house and I will hold each other in the highest esteem)
In my house, someday, I’ll see someone so becoming.
And my house will see me: he’ll know I’m really Something.
— Caroline Langerman
Caroline Langerman is a writer in Charlotte. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Glamour.
Gourmet gatheringsby Michelle Boudin
Across Charlotte, talented chefs who honed their craft in restaurants are now running fruitful catering companies, bringing their unique flair with food to special events and private affairs. From Southern comfort food to French and Mediterranean cuisine, they’re each cooking up something different this holiday season – and they’re much happier working outside the line.Roots Catering
An orchestra of flavorsCHEF TILLIE EVENTS, Tillie Kerna
Tilllie Kerna, known to most as Chef Tillie, says she discovered the farmto-table approach to cooking long before it was a trend, thanks to an adventurous childhood in the Pacific Northwest. “I gardened, cooked, baked, fished, hunted and foraged with my family. I was taught from childhood to value fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, and it instilled in me the notion of appreciating the roots of my food.”
Kerna attended culinary school in France to master the fundamentals and spent time working in restaurants, but she quickly decided she wasn’t a fan of the lifestyle. She walked away from cooking for more than a de cade. “I desperately missed the culinary arts, so when we moved back to Charlotte in 2005, I started my personal-chef business.”
Chef Tillie Events specializes in boutique catering, destination events, dinner parties with five to 20 courses, and cooking classes with a focus on Mediterranean and Japanese food — and sometimes a fusion of the two.
“With my multicourse dinner parties, my clients become guests in their own homes while hosting an experience that ignites all the senses. My clients trust me to dig deep into their cultural roots to create menus for their dinner parties and events.”
Kerna says crafting the menus is a never-ending learning process.
“Creating menus and testing recipes might be my favorite part of the process — the menus are like an orchestra and the plates are an expression of my art, where one ingredient plays off the other to create an experience like no other.”
HOLIDAY DISH: One thing that does stay the same is her take on the holiday classics. She always makes beef Wellington and a few other standards. “Over the holidays it is traditional to make my classic cioppino,” an Italian-American seafood stew with a tomato broth. “Being from the West Coast, this seafood stew was always a Christmas Eve tradition, with freshbaked sourdough bread. Over the years it has evolved into the absolute perfect dish, and it’s always a showstopper.”
PISTACHIO, CRANBERRY & HONEY CHÈVRE TRUFFLES
Makes two dozen small truffles by Chef Tillie Kerna
These truffles are always a crowd pleaser, according to Chef Tillie. “It’s the perfect grazing food for your holiday charcuterie and fromage board.”
10 ounces goat cheese, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
6 sage leaves, chopped into chiffonade
4 tablespoons honey, plus more for garnish
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped and divided
1 1/2 cup pistachios (or substitute pecans), finely chopped and divided
1/2 cup parsley, chopped Fresh figs (optional)
In a large bowl, beat the goat cheese, cream cheese, cinnamon and honey together until fluffy. Add sage and lemon zest until incorporated. Fold in 1/4 cup chopped pecans and cranberries, and set aside.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In the middle of the pan, toss together the remaining pecans, cranberries and parsley.
Using a small ice cream scoop or measuring spoon, scoop out the filling and roll into the pistachio mixture to coat. (It helps to use gloves at this point, because it can get a little messy.) Continue scooping and rolling with the remainder of the mixture.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. Truffles can be refrigerated for up to three days in advance in an airtight container.
Before serving, drizzle with a little hon ey and serve with fresh figs and crackers or crostini.
NOTE: Alternately, this recipe can be used to make a large cheese ball.
From potlucks to dinner partiesCRAFTED PLATE, Charles Reid
Growing up in Fredericksburg, Va., Charles Reid’s first job was as a breakfast and banquet cook at a Holiday Inn Select. “I was extremely fortunate to have a chef that I worked under who made things from scratch and took the time to teach me things like how to make a stock properly and what to look for when creating a plate.”
Still, the owner of Crafted Plate thought he’d grow up to be a geologist until he realized, “Most geologists don’t get to hunt for gemstones all day, they go to work for the Department of Transportation.” He also realized the dinner table was the one place most people seemed happy most of the time. “My father was a pastor, and we attended church potlucks frequently. I got to see and taste variations of dishes like deviled eggs, meatballs, baked beans, macaroni and cheese etc., and compare them side by side.”
The Johnson & Wales University graduate says the church was the perfect training ground for the catering company he launched last year after shoulder surgery forced him to take a break and reflect on his career. Reid previously worked at Upstream and Clean Catch Fish Market, and he didn’t want to go back to the crazy pace of restaurant life.
“I started to put ideas down on paper and set up a business plan. In May of 2021, I ventured out on my own and started Crafted Plate.”
Crafted Plate caters small to medium dinner parties and social functions, where Reid puts his own spin on beloved Southern dishes.
“I would describe my food as eclectic, drawing on different inspirations and experiences from my life. I’ve been blessed to eat amazing down-home, Southern cooking made with real soul, and I have also dined at and worked in three-Michelin-star restaurants,” he says, referring to a three-month internship at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York.
This holiday season, the chef expects to make a lot of soups. “People love soups during cold-weather seasons, and I enjoy the process of making soup. Curried butternut squash soup, clam chowder, lentil and spinach soup, and the list goes on. The stock pot is an amazing canvas to work with.”
HOLIDAY DISH: “My favorite dish to cook for the holidays is oysters Rockefeller. It’s a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. My favorite dish to eat during the holidays is my mom’s banana cake. It’s a recipe that’s been in our family for generations, and my mom makes it perfectly.”
French flairPATRICK’S GOURMET, Patrick Garrivier
After more than four decades in restaurant kitchens from France to New York and Charlotte, Patrick Garrivier traded cooking on the line for catering — and he couldn’t be happier.
“Catering is a lot less stressful for me,” says Garrivier, a native of Lyon, France. “The overhead is less, and I can do my own schedule. It gives me a lot of freedom. With a restaurant, you have to be there almost 24 hours a day. Now I make my own hours and spend more time with my family, which never happened before in the restaurant business.”
Trained at a culinary school in Lyon, Garrivier ran the acclaimed Aix en Provence in Myers Park from 2016 to 2019. Before that, he helped open Lumiere and served as a consultant at Georges Brasserie after he moved from New York to Charlotte in 2013.
He started Patrick’s Gourmet in summer 2020 during the heart of the pandemic, focusing on traditional French food with some Mediterranean, northern Italian and Spanish influences.
“My background is French, my restaurant was French and the customer base was asking for French food. It’s very hard to find in Charlotte,” he says.
Garrivier typically caters small weddings and in-home private dinners and parties. Over the holidays, he expects to serve a lot of his signature dish, a traditional southern France entree: duck cassoulet with duck confit, lardons, baked white beans and garlic sausage.
While Garrivier creates custom menus for the holidays, his Thanksgiving dinner has a French twist. “We don’t serve the whole turkey on the bone. We take the carcass out and stuff it with a chestnut stuffing and foie gras, tie it back up and roast it, and then we slice it across like a roast.”
HOLIDAY DISH: For Christmas, Garrivier does a French iteration of the classic beef Wellington, with mousseline potatoes and house-made duck liver. “We cure it, macerate in milk and we use wine in it ... Our customers love it because it’s a little different.”
For a fall/winter version of beef bourguignon, Chef Patrick Garrivier slow-braises the meat in red wine for three hours. The dish is served with potatoes mousseline, smoked bacon, mushrooms, baby carrots and crispy shallots.BY JUSTIN DRISCOLL
Engineering a careerROOTS CATERING, Craig Barbour
From a young age, Craig Barbour knew he was either going to be a mechanical engineer or a chef. He grew up helping rebuild engines at the machine shop his dad owned, but he was also tasked with making dinner most nights. “My dad would cut out recipes from the Sunday paper, and my mom would line up all the instructions because neither of them were home in time to start dinner.”
In college, he worked on cars with a racing team and waited tables at a seafood dive at a Best Western “to pay for beer and rent” when, one day, all the cooks walked off the job.
“Once I started cooking and got my hands dirty, I thought, this is fun — it’s like engineering something, but there’s much more instant gratification.” He moved to Charlotte to attend Johnson & Wales in 2007, but most of his formal training came from working at Carmel Country Club.
“I did a lot of learning there, doing super high-end platters and 100-person, kid-friendly buffets.”
From there, Barbour worked at Barrington’s under two of Charlotte’s most acclaimed chefs — owner Bruce Moffett and Jamie Lynch, now with the 5th Street Group. “I was lucky enough that when I was there, Bruce was still cooking on the line, and then Jamie Lynch was on the right side of me on the line. So for eight months I got to cook alongside two of the best chefs in Charlotte.”
Not long after that, Barbour started the Roots food truck and in 2017 launched Roots Catering. He now has a team of 20, and they average 250 events a year, mostly weddings.
Roots is all about using fresh ingredients in a simple but sophisticated way, Barbour says. “We do super simple, basic stuff that people love. We have a grilled veggie mix that people want at pretty much every event we do — grilled squash, zucchini, bell pepper, carrots and onion, [seasoned with] herbs, garlic and olive oil — people go crazy for it.”
Ditching the food truck was an easy decision, Barbour says. “It was a hard way of life, with extreme lows and extreme highs and very stressful. I was essentially a food-truck repair guy, and there was no cooking in it for me. Now our schedule is preplanned, we know the money we are getting rain or shine, and there are not really late nights like at a restaurant.”
HOLIDAY DISH: Barbour’s family looks forward to his sauerkraut every Thanksgiving. “I don’t know where that tradition started, but I remember my grandmother always made it with apples and a little bit of apple juice. You strain off all the liquid, simmer that and to me it’s like the same contrast you get when you’re using fresh cranberries on the turkey. There’s a sweet tang and a little bit of crunch — it’s the best on a Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.” SP
WHO IS AUGUSTO CONTE? ONE OF CHARLOTTE’S MOST PROLIFIC RESTAURANT OWNERS FLIES BELOW THE RADAR.by Kathleen Purvis | photographs by Peter Taylor
You’d think Augusto Conte would be a household name in Charlotte’s food world. He owns four restaurants that are consistently successful — Luce in uptown, Mezzanotte in Cotswold, Via Roma at Waverly and the flagship, Toscana, in SouthPark. Since coming to Charlotte in 1995, he’s had 11 restaurants — the current four, plus his first, Conte’s Ristorante Italiano, followed by Trattoria Antica, Trattoria Rustica, Coco Osteria, Malabar (Spanish tapas, his one attempt that wasn’t Italian), Il Posto and Positano. Most of his openings and closings haven’t been for lack of business. Changes in leases closed some, like Malabar. The chance to grab better spaces caused others.
Still, when Charlotte food lovers list the biggest names in the restaurant world, why doesn’t anyone mention Conte, the most Italian man in an Italiancrazy city?
Conte just shrugs at the question. That’s the way it should be, he says. At 55, he’s happy to stay out of the spotlight, concentrate on what he does best, and let the attention go to the younger chefs and the newer spots.
“The new ones need to get attention,” he says. “The difference between us and someone new, we’re in a different position. It takes years to serve the community and form a brand. This is what makes me different. We’ve seen a lot of big names (in Charlotte). They came, and they left.”
Helen Schwab, whose years as the restaurant reviewer at The Charlotte Observer overlapped with most of Conte’s places, agrees that he’s never received as much attention as he deserves.
“Toscana’s story, I think, tells you why he hasn’t gotten more attention: He opened a good place in an underrepresented-in-terms-of-quality cuisine, and he took care to keep it good, and keep it steady, and
that kept it open,” Schwab says. “That doesn’t make a lot of headlines, it just makes money.”
When it comes to experience, it’s hard to top Conte. He’s been around food and hospitality since he was growing up on the island of Ischia, near Capri. Conte was actually born in Germany, when his parents moved there briefly. After they moved back to Ischia with their five sons, Conte’s father left the family. His mother had to work two jobs to support them. To keep her sons off the streets when she couldn’t be there, she sent them to work. Conte was 11 when he started work as a hotel bellboy.
The Contes didn’t have much money, but he has plenty of good food memories: fresh seafood, fresh tomatoes, eggplant and rabbit on Sundays.
He came to America in 1988, when he was 20, and started in New York.
“I came with luggage full of dreams,” Conte says today — his way of saying he didn’t have anything else. He couldn’t speak English, but he knew hospitality, and he knew how to work hard. He became a busser at a restaurant, living with a family in Connecticut and working on his language skills.
When he was ready to move up to waiter, he had to push to get the chance: He was too good at being a busser.
In 1994, six years after coming to America, Conte and his first wife, Christine, came to Charlotte to visit her sister. He saw a fast-growing city that had potential — and it was missing real Italian food.
“I felt some restaurants were Italian by name,” he says. “It was missing the real flavor.” So the Contes moved to Charlotte, opening Conte’s Ristorante Italiano in Myers Park.
“When he opened Conte’s, Charlotte had not had a lot,” Schwab recalls. “That year, I was still explaining in reviews what bruschetta and caprese salads and risotto were.”
Conte’s quickly attracted fans, and before long, Conte wanted a bigger space. At Specialty Shops on the Park (now Specialty Shops SouthPark), the European-style courtyard next to SouthPark Mall, he had spotted Café Milan and was impressed with the setting. It was big, with room to grow, and had space for outdoor dining.
In 1998, he got a call from real estate developer Smoky Bissell, a regular at Conte’s. Bissell had gotten word that the Café Milan space was going to be available, and he wanted Conte to be the first to know.
“I said, ‘done!’” Conte grabbed a piece of paper and sketched out a menu that become Toscana.
That menu, with a few variations, is still in most of his restaurants today. He estimates that 70% of the menus are the same at all his restaurants. They change with the seasons, but not by much. Dishes like rigatoni buttera, with a creamy tomato sauce, are on all four of his menus. Why change what works?
“This is why people come,” he says. “I’m not officially a chef. I develop the menu, the flavor, as if it would be my house. This is how we eat at my house.”
He visits all four of his restaurants several times a week, and usually hits all four of them on Saturday nights.
“I walk through the dining room, I show my face, I listen to everyone. I build the culture.”
He always spends time in the kitchens. In a business that’s known for its turnover and struggles to keep staff during the pandemic, he’s got staff members who have stayed for 15 years. Incentives like profit-sharing have helped him keep staff.
“Everybody’s happy,” he says. “I shake their hands – ‘are you happy?’ They’re like family. We share the same values.”
He starts his days late, usually visiting his restaurants from 4 p.m. until late at night. That’s deliberate: Growing up without a father, being
“Im not officially a chef. I develop the menu, the flavor, as if it would be my house. This is how we eat at my house.”
— Augusto Conte
with his family is important to him. He likes to be home to cook breakfast and lunch. Conte has five children — Ariana, Sophia, Gianluca and Angelina from his first marriage, and Sophia, 5, with his wife Mariajose, a native of Ecuador.
Gianluca Conte has found his own success as a social influencer who’s known for his parody cooking videos, The Angry New Jersey Cooking Show, on TikTok and YouTube. Despite controversy about racial stereotypes (he later posted an apology), Gianluca has racked up 11 million followers for his goofy cooking that usually involves painfully “Sopranos”-style accents and maximum views of his well-developed chest under an apron. (He’s @itsqcp on TikTok.)
Conte gets a kick out Gianluca’s videos — he shares recipes and techniques, and marvels that Gianluca got paid $7,000 by one company just to cook a steak. He even makes an appearance in one, shot in July on a father-son trip to Italy, that includes both Contes running out of the sea in very tiny Speedos.
The son is really imitating the father: It’s all about building a brand.
“The longevity of what he’s done, on the level he’s done it, is remarkable,” Schwab says.
Hospitality, Conte says, is something you have or you don’t.
“It comes from who you are. Hospitality is Italian. Brand is who you are.” SP
Color me happy
HADLEY QUISENBERRY DESIGNS A HOME FOR A FAMILY OF FIVE THAT REFLECTS THEIR VIBRANT AND YOUTHFUL PERSONALITIES.by Blake Miller | photographs by Dustin Peck
Betsey and Tim Dillon had grown attached to their Dilworth bungalow. It was the young couple’s first home, where they brought home two of their babies and started life together as a family. But after nine years and the thought of adding one more to their clan, the Dillons had come to realize they were outgrowing their quaint home.
So the couple began casually looking for larger homes to accommodate their growing family. After weeks of searching, a house in Eastover caught their eye. The home’s high ceilings, natural light-filled spaces and updated finishes were a draw.
“Light and bright was all I had on the brain,” Betsey says. “The home had been on the market for a while, we think because it backed up to a creek. But that creek was one of the reasons we loved the home so much. We knew our kids would spend hours playing there.”
The home itself required zero renovating, too, which was an added bonus. “The previous homeowner did a whole kitchen renovation a few years ago, so everything in the home was freshly updated,” Betsey says. Knowing that this house was much different in both size and design scope from their previous home, Betsey was also aware she would need assistance furnishing it. “I knew when we found a home we loved that I’d want the interiors done right,” she says.
Little did she know she wouldn’t have to look very far. Designer Hadley Quisenberry’s daughter was in the same preschool class as the Dillons’ son, and the two clicked right away. “Betsey saw a home I had done in a local magazine and loved it,” says Quisenberry, owner and principal designer at West Trade Interiors. “I had no idea she was looking for a designer until she reached out. And, of course, I jumped at the opportunity.”
Quisenberry was faced with a blank canvas, with the only criteria being color and practicality. “Betsey didn’t have a lot of constraints around her personal style or what she wanted,” she says. “It was fun to get to know them and that they loved color as much as I do. What I love about Betsey and Tim is that they wanted their home to be colorful and fun and reflect their young, vibrant family but also be practical at the same time. They have young kids, so they were
thoughtful about making investments in pieces to make it really function and flow for the way they like to live.” The previous Dilworth bungalow was monochromatic and neutral, so for the Dillons this was a new approach to interior design. And they immediately embraced it.
Quisenberry was also tasked with marrying two different design preferences. “Betsey definitely skews more traditional, while Tim loves a more modern, clean look,” the designer says. “I love to mix old and
new. I prioritized the family heirlooms that were meaningful to Betsey but then I downplayed the browns from those antiques and infused some color with painted furniture and colorful accents to liven it up a bit.”
The dining room is one of the most apparent couplings of opposing styles. Quisenberry paired a modern dining table by Vanguard with more traditional dining chairs by Charles Stewart and a chandelier from Circa Lighting. The original artwork
by Laura Park coupled with the existing modern ceiling detail added just the right touch of color to the space.
In the family room, Quisenberry took a similar approach. In lieu of traditional patterns, she opted for a bold geometric print by Scalamandre on the cube ottomans and throw pillows.
“That fabric was the inspiration for the rest of the room’s design,” she says. A clean, modern coffee table swathed in a faux ostrich fabric by Made Goods is decidedly contemporary, as well, and when paired with the more traditional lines of the Charles Stewart sofa the room checks all the boxes for both husband and wife.
What Betsey loves most about her new home is not just that it can stand up to dirty toddler hands while simultaneously looking elegant and sophisticated. It’s that the home truly reflects the family. “I love it so much. The way Hadley designed this home makes it so livable and comfortable,” Betsey says.
“The house is so cheerful and feels like us as soon as you walk in the front door.” SP
College towns are known for their vibrant art scenes, indie bookshops and diverse culinary communities. Creativity flourishes in these intellectual hubs, where fine art galleries and museums mix with gritty music clubs and grassroots cafes. On Saturdays in fall, they can take on a whole new personality as legions of loyal alumni return to relive their glory days.
In this section, we highlight three cities where you can experience a quintessential college-town experience. Whether you’re visiting for the big game, checking out a prospective school with your teen or just seeking a fun-filled weekend away, our itineraries will help you make the most of your stay.
For features on other nearby college towns, scan the QR code.
Talk about the passionATHENS, GEORGIA, BLENDS SOUTHERN GRACE AND GRASSROOTS CREATIVITY. by Cathy Martin | featured photograph by Jason Thrasher
If you know any Georgia alums, you know their intense devotion to their alma mater. Bulldog fans seem to have invented school spirit.
A recent visit to Athens reveals it’s not all about football. As home to the state’s flagship university, Athens boasts cultural amenities not found in similar-sized towns. From the picturesque North Campus and stately historic sorority houses lining Milledge Avenue to grittier downtown venues where musical greats got their start, Athens is a mix of Southern grace and grassroots creativity.
As a child of the ’80s, I knew all about Athens’ legendary music scene, where R.E.M., The B-52s and Widespread Panic all spent formative years. Then in 2000, James Beard Award-winning chef Hugh Acheson opened his first restaurant, Five & Ten, and put Athens on the culinary map. Today, many of the town’s restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops are owned by Georgia alums — who fell so hard for this eclectic town 70 miles east of Atlanta as students, they never left.BY JAKE GEE
Winter Wonderlights at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia runs from Nov. 23 - Jan. 8. Follow a half-mile walking trail with twinkling lights, shop the holiday market, and help yourself to hot cocoa and s’mores. Tickets are $15. The university also hosts several holiday-themed performances in December, including The Nutcracker performed by the State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine.
Follow the Athens Music Walk of Fame to the famed Georgia Theatre. The 1,000-seat theater was built in 1935 on the site of a former YMCA and later became a concert venue. A devastating fire in 2009 shuttered the iconic theater for two years. Acts from B.B. King to The Dave Matthews Band have performed at the theater, and R.E.M. and John Mayer filmed music videos here. Even if you aren’t catching a show, you can visit the rooftop bar and take in views of the campus and city.
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia was established in 1968 on the 313-acre site of a former cotton plantation. Admission is free — explore more than 5 miles of trails and eight specialty gardens, including a shade garden, an international garden and a children’s garden. A Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum housing the personal collection of garden benefactor Deen Day Sanders opened in 2021.
The Georgia Museum of Art on UGA’s campus has rotating exhibits plus a permanent collection of American, European, Asian and African works. The works span from 15th-century Florentine painter Paolo Schiavo to modern-day Chicago artist Nick Cave. Admission is free.
Whether searching for the perfect UGA hoodie or vintage vinyl, Athens has a variety of independent shops worth perusing. Avid Bookshop in Five Points has gifts, puzzles, stationery and more. Agora Vintage (by appointment only) sells pre-loved design er handbags from Chanel and Louis Vuitton, along with shoes and clothing. Wuxtry Records, a downtown record store and comic shop, was named one of Rolling Stone’s top 25 record stores in 2010. The Red Zone has all the UGA merch your future Dawg will ever want.
Most lodging options in Athens are garden-variety Hiltons and Marriotts, with plenty of Airbnb rentals. For a comfortable stay within walking distance of downtown and campus — Hotel Indigo covers the bases. Opened in 2009, the hotel — a modern barn-like structure that’s LEED Gold certified (i.e. eco-friendly) — underwent a renovation of its 130 guest rooms in 2019. Rooms at the pet-friendly hotel are bright and airy with high ceilings; hardwood floors and wood accents add warmth. Madison Bar & Bistro, the all-day lobby cafe, offers ample seating and a sprawling courtyard for morning coffee or a quick bite.
EAT + DRINK
For a grab-and-go breakfast, Independent Baking Co. in Five Points serves light, flaky viennoiserie including croissants, pains au chocolat, and seasonal Danish along with fresh-baked bread made from organic grains — their whole-grain flours are stone-ground and milled in-house. Look for the small painted brick building with the cheery blue trim and grab a coffee made with locally roasted beans. For a heartier breakfast, Mama’s Boy serves biscuit sandwiches, egg scrambles and Georgia peach French toast in a no-frills setting — plus a few nontraditional dishes like the chocolate cake for breakfast.
For a light lunch or an afternoon snack, Pauley’s Crepe Bar has sweet and savory crepes, small bites like black bean hummus and deviled eggs, sandwiches and salads, plus craft cocktails, martinis and wine. Try the Bulldawg crepes — shaved steak, swiss and caramelized onions topped with arugula and shallots in a hot-sauce vinaigrette.
At Cali n Tito’s, don’t let the line spilling out the door at lunchtime keep you away. The casual counter-service spot (cash only) serves Latin fare — tacos, chauffa and sandwiches — in a setting reminiscent of your favorite beachfront dive. Order a Cuban — the rolls are perfectly crusty-on-the-outside, softon-the-inside — with a homemade limeade, search for an open picnic table and enjoy.
Every town needs a good local coffee shop — in Athens, it’s
Jittery Joe’s. With about a dozen locations around town, there’s no excuse to settle for Starbucks. For a midday pick-me-up, head to Condor Chocolates, owned by brothers and Athens natives Nick and Peter Dale. Indulge in bean-to-bar chocolate, brownies and truffles made at their local factory, plus Ecuadorian coffee and hot cocoa.
Tucked in a historic home on Milledge Avenue, Acheson’s Five & Ten serves Southern dishes with a French and Italian flair. This is a place to take your time and enjoy the experience, whether dining inside, at the cozy bar or on the breezy front porch.
ZZ and Simone’s in Five Points is a bustling corner café with an Italian-inspired menu that opened in December 2021. On the menu: Starters like crudo and grilled artichokes; pastas and pizzas; grilled branzino and porchetta. The lemon pizza (red onion, chile flakes, thyme and pecorino romano) was a bright and zesty standout.
For fresh, farm-to-table food in a simple setting, visit home. made, a short 2 miles west of downtown. The menu highlights what’s in season and is influenced by Chef Mimi Maumus’ New Orleans background. Next door at SideCar, expect an ever-chang ing menu of small plates, craft cocktails and alcohol-free drinks.
For Southern food with a Southwestern twist, Last Resort Grill is a downtown mainstay. On the site of one of Athens’ first live music clubs, this unpretentious eatery sources from local growers and artisans. Expect familiar dishes like Carolina crab cakes, cornbread-crusted trout and stuffed tenderloin. SP
A WEEKEND IN NORTH CAROLINA’S BULL CITYby Vanessa Infanzon
If your only interaction with Durham was virtual and in 1988 when Kevin Costner played a veteran baseball player in the movie Bull Durham, then it’s time to rediscover the city, in real life.
Over the last 20 years, Durham’s reinvestment in its downtown, including the creation of the American Tobacco Campus, has made it a destination city for tourists. Once the hub for manufacturing tobacco products, the factories and adjoining land have been reinvented as meeting space, restaurants, shops and performance venues. Visitors interested in the history of the campus can explore the winding walkways, take photos of the landmark Lucky Strike
water tower and smokestack, and view tobacco-company memorabilia at Reed Art Gallery. For baseball and Costner fans, Historic Durham Athletic Park, the filming location for Bull Durham, is also in downtown.
Duke University’s 8,600-acre campus is perennially named among the country’s most beautiful, with a mix of contemporary buildings and Gothic and Georgian architecture. Durham is also home to North Carolina Central University. Founded as a religious training school in 1910 by Dr. James E. Shepard, N.C. Central became the country’s first state-supported liberal arts college for Black students.
Larger-than-life fuchsia penguins pop up throughout Durham’s 21c Museum Hotel, adding the whimsy the Hill Building needs to break from its banking reputation and setting the stage for its art concept. The 17-story art deco building was designed in the 1930s by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon just five years after the firm finished the Empire State Building and housed Central Carolina Bank and its predecessors until the 1990s.
In 2015, after an extensive renovation, the 125-room 21c boutique hotel opened. Remnants of the bank — including the original terrazzo flooring from 95 years ago and the bank vault — honor its history and offer unexpected experiences for guests. Sip cocktails from chef-driven restaurant Counting House in the original vault, where even the drinks follow the banking theme: Paradiso Fiscale (Tax Haven), Take the Money and Run, and Trophy Wife. Unwind among safety deposit boxes and imagine what was stored there 75 years ago. Even the $100 bills strewn across the vault floor are art: BANK (Unswept Floor series), comprises 305 ceramic tiles designed by Leslie Lyons and JB Wilson.
It’s an art museum first, then a hotel, says 21c Museum Manager Nell Fortune-Greeley. Contemporary art for all nine 21c properties across the United States is curated by Alice Gray Stites, muse um director and chief curator. Multimedia, film, paintings and sculptures are on view in more than 10,000 square feet of event and hotel space at the Durham location. Most pieces are from 21c founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson’s personal collection. Each guest-room floor features regional art, and local artists give lectures regularly.
On Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., a docent-led art tour is available for free (sign up online). The current exhibit, This We Believe, runs through May 2023. It explores the power and evolution of belief systems and includes works by Sebastian ErraZuriz, Kota Ezawa, Clarence Heyward and Titus Kaphar.
Market-hop for holiday gifts at one of several Durham-based shows.
Nov. 19-20 2022 Durham Art Walk Holiday Market, downtown
Nov. 26 Durham Holiday Market, The Honeysuckle at Lakewood
Dec. 3 Art-n-Soul Holiday Market, Mystic Farm & Distillery
Dec. 10 and 11 Patchwork Market, The Durham Armory
Dec. 11 The Durham Craft Market Holiday Show, Durham Central Park
The city’s urban landscape is abuzz with weekend markets. The Central Park District features a craft market on Saturdays. Booths with art, jewelry, pottery, plants and spices line Foster Street and spread into the 5-acre park. Local creatives set up shop, like award-winning artist and entrepreneur William Davis Jr. who sits behind an old school typewriter and writes poems for customers using a topic of their choosing.
In November and December, shop holiday markets for gifts and home goods. Durham Craft Market, with 16-20 vendors, is open April through Thanksgiving on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. American Tobacco Campus’ Durham Night Market is 5 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 8 with live music and entertainment, local artisans, food and drinks.
Fountains, bridges and stepping stones through Sarah P. Duke Gardens accentuate the beauty of the 55-acre public garden. Terraced gardens overlooking ponds of koi and lilies highlight the Historic Gardens, one of four distinct areas within the property. Pack a picnic from downtown bakery Monuts: sandwiches on fresh bagels or biscuits, pasta salad, homemade hummus and, of course, doughnuts.
EAT + DRINK
Set an alarm to beat the rush at True Flavors Diner. As incongruent as it may seem, Beyoncé playing in the background at this 1950s-themed diner fits the upscale vibe. Start with the homemade biscuits and strawberry jam — you’ll forgive yourself for waking early. Take your time choosing from the weekend brunch menu: pancakes overflowing with blueberries, chicken and waffles, peach French toast — or will it be the egg white, spinach and mushroom omelet?
Durham Food Hall downtown offers multiple choices under one roof, from pizza and sandwiches to bagels and oysters. At an indoor or outdoor table, consider sharing small bites from several vendors. Liturgy Beverage Company carries espresso, tea and chocolate. Order an eggplant caponata on an urfa and garlic bagel from Everything Bagels. Old North Meats + Provisions’ menu includes pastrami and fried mushroom sandwiches, smashburgers, and brassica caesar and miso honey salads. Your sweet tooth will be satisfied at Little Barb’s Bakery with its homemade pop-tarts and brandy apple cake. SP
SPEND A WEEKEND IN KNOXVILLE, A HUB FOR NATURE ENTHUSIASTS AND LOCAL ARTISANS — MINUS THE BIG-CITY HASSLE.by Cathy Martin
You don’t have to make the 400-mile trek to Nashville — or the cross-state trip to Memphis — to experience Tennessee hospitality. Knoxville, home to the University of Tennessee and the original state capital, has a creative undercurrent that draws chefs, brewmasters and artisans.
Everything is within reach in Knoxville, located at the headwaters of the Tennessee River and about two hours northwest of the Great Smokies — about a four-hour drive from Charlotte. Grab a bite to eat at a downtown cafe and 10 minutes later find yourself floating on a kayak or stepping out on the trail — there are more than 50 miles of greenways in the city.
Tennessee’s third-largest city may not have Nashville’s glitz and glam, or iconic attractions like Graceland and Beale Street in Memphis. But a vibrant and walkable downtown, plenty of historic charm and an outdoorsy mindset make it a weekend destination in its own right — without the big-city headaches.
Located in the shadow of the giant Sunsphere — the iconic gold hexagonal structure at World’s Fair Park (where a staggering 11 million people visited some 40 years ago) — The Tennessean Hotel is a short walk from Knoxville’s downtown dining, shopping and entertainment district.
The theme here is east Tennessee with a European flair. Nods to the Tennessee River are found throughout the 82-room hotel, from the carpet pattern to topographical maps in the guestrooms to cus tom Frette linen napkins adorned with the river’s meandering path. Each of the hotel’s five guest-room floors are named after branches of the river, where spacious rooms and suites boast floor-to-ceiling windows and large marble-tiled bathrooms with Molton Brown toiletries. The dog-friendly hotel offers a convenient shuttle to desti nations within a 3-mile radius, including Neyland Stadium on game day. For shorter jaunts around town, a golf-cart shuttle is available.
The Drawing Room is an elegant and intimate spot for cocktails, breakfast or dinner. For a real treat, visit during one of the
hotel’s specialty tea events, when dainty and delicious finger sand wiches, macarons, scones and petit fours are served on Wedgwood china. Teas are sourced from Chicago’s Rare Tea Cellar — the Sweet Peach Noir is a house specialty. If your stay doesn’t coin cide with one of the scheduled events — which include a boozy Prohibition tea in October and a Galentine’s tea in February — a private “Suite Tea” service can be booked in advance.
Downstairs in the adjacent Maker Exchange, relax by the fire in the airy, light-filled atrium and browse The Curio — a gallery of works by local artisans curated by the Knoxville Dogwood Arts Alliance. The Tavern at Maker Exchange serves seasonal Southern fare — smoked catfish brandade, deviled eggs with bacon jam, fried green tomatoes — and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Grab a cocktail at the bar and unwind in the game room, where even the shuffleboard table was made by a local art collective.
Getting outside is easy, with convenient access to forests and wildlife sanctuaries right within the city. Just 3.5 miles from downtown, Ijams Nature Center encompasses more than 300 acres of wilderness. In addition to hiking trails, Ijams offers rock climbing for beginners to experts and paddling at Mead’s Quarry, an old marble quarry where you can rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards and float the afternoon away. Knoxville Adventure Collective also rents canoes, kayaks and paddleboards at its riverfront dock near downtown, with guided and self-guided trips available.
To learn about the city’s history, tour the seven Historic House Museums of Knoxville, from James White’s Fort, a post-Revolutionary log house built in 1786 by the city’s founding father, to Westwood, an 1890 Victorian built for Adelia Armstrong Lutz, Knoxville’s first female professional artist. The brick Queen Annestyle home retains much of its original woodwork and stained glass, along with frescoes painted by the artist herself.
Gay Street is downtown’s main drag, where the iconic Tennessee and Bijou theater marquees still light up the night. Day and night, the street is hopping with folks shopping, grabbing drinks or a bite to eat, and taking in a show.
On most Saturdays, regional vendors sell their wares at down town’s Market Square Farmers Market . You’ll find plenty of freshcut flowers and produce, along with honey, fresh-baked cookies and bread, jewelry and apparel.
For a scratch-made breakfast in a homey atmosphere, look for the sage green storefront of OliBea, where the menu features locally and regionally sourced ingredients. The mole-like sauces in the breakfast burrito (braised turkey manchamanteles, bacon, potatoes, egg, cheese and coloradito) are old family recipes. If you prefer sweet to savory, order the lemon pancakes made with fresh buttermilk from Cruze Farm, a family dairy farm.
The French Market Creperie, another local favorite, is a breakfast and lunch spot with dozens of sweet or savory crepes made with flour imported from France. Burgers and bourbon are on the menu at Stock & Barrel, which sources pasture-fed beef from a local family farm.
For a sweet afternoon treat, head to downtown’s Cruze Farm Dairy, where bright gingham-clad servers scoop fresh-churned ice cream with seasonal and rotating flavors like maple pumpkin, lavender honey, sweet cream, salty caramel and brown butter-cheesecake. For a dose of nostalgia, The Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain serves ice cream sundaes, shakes and floats in an 1899 building, a throwback to soda fountains of a bygone era.
For a casual dinner in a lively setting, try dinner at A Dopo for Neapolitan-style sourdough pizza. Start with the ovoline — house-pulled mozzarella with a basil and pistachio pistou (similar to a pesto) and warm sourdough bread. Follow with the house “insalata,” local greens with smoked sweet potatoes, pickled vegetables and fresh herbs. The pizza here is out of this world — my hands-down favorite was the Sofia — red sauce, oregano, s’nduja and fresh-torn mozzarella.
Tall stacks of split firewood in the dining room hint at what’s on the menu at J.C. Holdway, founded by Knoxville native and James Beard Award winner Joseph Lenn. The Johnson & Wales alum worked in Charleston and Nashville and alongside chefs Sean Brock and John Fleer before returning to his hometown in 2016. The menu highlights local farmers and food artisans with wood-grilled meats and fish, pastas and shareables.
Knoxville is home to about 25 local breweries. If you aren’t sure where to start, Knox Brew Hub will point you in the right direction. The downtown taproom has about two dozen local brews on tap. At Pretentious Beer Co., glass artist Matthew Cummings makes both the beer and the glassware that holds it. Cummings and his team make art as well — vases, drinkware and decorative items are for sale at Pretentious Glass Co., a gallery and glass-blowing studio next door. SP
During Knoxville’s Downtown Peppermint Trail, (Nov. 25-Jan. 8) local merchants go all in on the theme, offering peppermint coffee, cocktails, candles and more. Skate under the stars at Market Square in the city’s Holidays on Ice. The Tennessean Hotel hosts its Holiday Tea, with seasonal varieties like a gingerbread rooibos, weekends from Nov. 26-Dec. 18. Make reservations at thetennesseanhotel.com.
Remembering Frank Daniels Jr.A TRIBUTE TO A LEADER by Jim Jenkins
Frank Arthur Daniels Jr., former president and publisher of The News & Observer in Raleigh, died at the age of 90 on June 30, 2022, in his hometown of Raleigh. It was the peaceful conclusion of a life full of professional accomplishment, financial success, and contributions to his community and his state. But for his multitudes of friends and family, Frank Jr. — as just about everybody called him — is remembered for his capacity to give and receive love.
Sitting in the cavernous dining area of her parents’ home on Raleigh’s White Oak Road, Julie Daniels, Frank Jr.’s daughter, and her husband, Tom West, scan the many family portraits and mementos. There is one of her father, then 65, in front of a printing press.
“Look!” she says. “He’s got the little red book in his pocket. He always had that.”
Frank Jr. always carried a book with the names of his best friends, their phone numbers and their birth days. When he was younger, he’d send cards; as he got older, he found it easier to call them and sing to them (and anyone who was with him would be expected to sing along).
Julie is one of two children of Frank Jr. and his wife, Julia, and her memories are exactly what her father would want them to be. “Oh, they had fun — parties all the time, events at the paper, things like that,” she says. “But they always put me and my brother first. I don’t remember that they had all kinds of money — and they didn’t think of themselves that way. But when you ask me, what was his happiest day, I’d say just about every day was his happiest.”
Frank Daniels Jr. was born at the “Old Rex Hospital,” on Sept. 7, 1931. His father, Frank Daniels Sr., was one of four brothers, three of whom were active in running The News & Observer, which was owned by Frank Jr.’s grandfather, Josephus Daniels. He attended Woodberry Forest School near Orange, Va., and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1953. He served two years in the U.S. Air Force in Japan and tried a year of law school but was inevitably drawn back to The N&O, which turned out to be more than his birthright — it was his destiny.
Though he and his sister, Patsy, were raised in comfort and power, Frank Jr. was a righteous man. He had a sense of right and wrong that transcended the views of the generation from which he came, and of the family from which he descended. His son Frank Daniels III recalls going to the ACC basketball tournament with his father in 1968, when he was 12. It was the first varsity year for Charles Scott, a UNC sophomore who was the first Black basketball player for the Tar Heels.
A man behind them began taunting Scott. It was something Frank’s dad tolerated until he heard the n-word. “He turned around and told the guy to shut the hell up and then said, ‘We don’t need you here.’ The guy left,” says Frank III. “That really took something.”
Frank Jr. worked various jobs in all departments at The N&O and was popular with the other workers at the paper. Sometimes he chafed a bit working for his father (who, as the publisher, ran the business operations) and his uncle Jonathan, the editor, but he stayed the course and, after working his way up, became publisher in 1971.
A big man for his time, Frank Jr. was 6 feet, 3 inches tall and burly. He had huge hands and a booming bass voice that carried through a room, though his eyes possessed a mischievous twinkle, and he loved a good joke.
Gary Pearce, a longtime political strategist, remembers his boss from his own early days as an assistant city editor at The N&O in the mid-1970s. “He’d walk through the newsroom every day about 5 o’clock to go talk to Claude Sitton,” says Pearce, referring to the editor of the paper at the time. “One day, Frank’s walking through and there’s a phone ringing at an empty desk. No one’s there, so Frank — the publisher, now — puts down his briefcase, answers the phone, puts a piece of paper in the typewriter and takes down the item, a minor news brief. Then he sticks it in the basket, gathers his stuff and walks on down the hall, not saying a word to anybody. Most publishers wouldn’t have done it. That told me a lot.”
While at The N&O, Frank Jr. took some courageous stands as a fellow who owned a newspaper too liberal for many local business and community swells. He pushed for a merger of the Wake County and Raleigh schools, supporting a controversial change that led to vastly improved, integrated schools. He supported civil rights and women’s rights and didn’t balk when the newspaper started asking troubling questions about the war in Vietnam.
In addition to leading the paper, Frank Jr. rose to the top of dozens of professional associations. He was chairman of The Associated Press, and part of the leadership of nearly every civic organization in Raleigh — from United Way to school support groups to the YMCA board to chairing the boards of the North Carolina Museums of History and Natural Sciences. His board memberships and chairmanships over nine decades were too numerous to name, but his son says that his favorite post was chairman of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Board. He arranged partnerships between the Smithsonian and North Carolina’s history and science museums. They reflected his lifelong belief that everyone, at every station in life, deserved to know about art, history and science, and that the knowledge should be free.
Frank III says that his father’s seemingly natural capacity for leadership always put him in charge of whatever organization he had been asked to join. “Every group he was in, he rose to the top,” Frank III says. “I think it was his capacity for empathy. He could see what people needed, and it was important for him to help them.”
The Daniels family sold The News & Observer to the McClatchy newspaper company in California in 1995, and Frank Jr. remained as publisher until he retired in 1996.
In retirement, he became busier than ever. Until the very last month of life, he rarely had an empty lunch date or an eve ning without some kind of activity.
Even after his departure from The N&O, Frank Jr. supported new ventures and publications. Shortly after his retire ment, he and four others bought The Pilot in Southern Pines, then owned by Sam Ragan. Why did he do it? “It just gets in your blood,” was all he ever said.
Right: Frank Jr. and David Woronoff
One of the other owners is David Woronoff, Frank Jr.’s nephew. Woronoff, who runs the business for the partnership, was young at the beginning, confident but willing to ask his uncle’s advice. “He’d never let me call up and say, ‘This happened, what should I do?’” Woronoff laughs. “But he’d give advice — not that he expected you to take it.”
In one case, a prominent Pinehurst businessman called Woronoff, the publisher of The Pilot, after the newspaper was critical of a venture in which the businessman was involved. “He was screaming at me,” says Woronoff, “really rough stuff.” Woronoff called his uncle, and the advice Frank Jr. gave him was unequivocal. “He said, ‘David, you never go wrong punching the biggest bully in town in the nose. What would be wrong would be if you didn’t give the person in need a hand up.’”
Frank Jr. stayed involved in the publish ing group until his death, as it added The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, an other community paper and five magazines — Business North Carolina, PineStraw, WALTER, O.Henry and SouthPark — to its stable.
Frank Jr. built friendships from childhood that lasted him a lifetime, but what he enjoyed most about all his associations was just learning. His granddaughter, Kimberly
Daniels Taws, who runs The Country Bookshop, remembers visiting the beach with her grandfather when she was young. She joined him on the deck, where he was sitting next to a foot-tall stack of unusual reading material: clippings, folders, magazines, books. “I said, ‘What are you doing?’” she says. “And he said, ‘Well, I’m trying to figure out how I feel about nuclear power.’”
Many years ago, Frank Jr. hired attorney Wade Smith to help with some legal issues involving the newspaper. That led to a deep, lifelong friendship. “To me, Frank was larger than life, but Frank was real,” Smith says. “There was no putting on airs about him. He would be straight with you in all ways, and I liked that about him.”
Communications consultant Joyce Fitzpatrick met Frank Jr. when she rented space in a downtown building he owned some 20 years ago. She began regular lunches with him and Smith once or twice a month. “He was a hyper-social person,” she says. “He loved to have his lunches planned. We always typed out an agenda. It covered everything — politics, world events. People would come over to sit with us, wanting to know the latest.”
One thing he didn’t seem to have was inhibition. “Oh,” Fitzpatrick says, “we’d switch from politics to golf to what happens when we die. In the last few lunches, Wade would
give comfort: We’ll see each other again.”
Perhaps, in the end, Frank Arthur Daniels Jr. is proof that a man can be great without being perfect. Frank Jr. was the first to laugh at his own flaws; he enjoyed off-color humor, indulged in profanity and played practical jokes. But if he felt he’d been too rough on someone, he’d apologize.
“From him I learned the beauty of friendship and being with other people. The importance of generosity. And that sense of humor!” says his daughter Julie. “Sometimes you don’t realize the great gifts.”
In a eulogy at his father’s funeral at Raleigh’s White Memorial Presbyterian Church, his son, Frank III, shared a note that Frank Jr.’s longtime personal assistant, Julie Wood, found on his desk after he passed: Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Forgive the guilty. Welcome the stranger and the unwanted child. Care for the ill. Love your enemies.
“It’s a list of what he thought religion — and we — should teach,” says Frank III, who closed the eulogy with: “We’ll do our best.” SP
Jim Jenkins is an award-winning writer and a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor. He retired from The News & Observer in 2018 after 31 years as an editor, columnist and chief editorial writer.
Dine & Shine
benefiting the Grier Heights community August 19
CrossRoad Corporation’s Dine & Shine gala returned for its second year of fine dining and conversation to celebrate and raise funds for the Grier Heights community at Mint Museum Randolph.
A monthly guide to Charlotte’s parties and galas
Carolina Panthers Kickoff Lunch
Charlotte Touchdown Club September 1
Panthers great Jake Delhomme led this year’s luncheon at Le Méridien, which celebrates the return of football. Surrounded by fans and former Panthers players, Delhomme talked about his time on the team and the current season.
Healthy Living in January 2023:
North Carolina’s Top Doctors Charlotte region
A special section saluting health and wellness professionals dedicated to helping others lead robust, active lives. It will accompany SouthPark’s annual listing of the region’s Top Doctors, one of our most popular features and a valuable resource.
Contact Jane Rodewald 704-621-9198 or Cindy Poovey 704-497-2220 today.
Deadline November 30, 2022 Visit us online at southparkmagazine.com/advertise
A monthly guide to Charlotte’s parties and galas
I Dream of Dior benefiting Allegro Foundation September 1
Designer Luis Machicao organized a sold-out evening at Galleries at 811 filled with fashion and fun. The evening also recognized Pat Farmer for her work with the Allegro Foundation.
Anne Neilson Fine Art Grand re-opening September 8
A monthly guide to Charlotte’s parties and galas
BBQ & Blue Jeans
benefiting Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center September 10
Patrons filled the backyard of a private home near Queens University to raise money for Pat’s Place.
THE SHOW MUST GO ONby Leigh Brock
This month, Theatre Charlotte launches its 95th season by welcoming audiences back for a two-week run of Misery, the play based on the novel by Stephen King. It’s a homecoming that felt out of reach two years ago, as Charlotte’s longest-running community theater faced a one-two punch: managing the pandemic’s toll while trying to rebuild after a devastating fire.
The pandemic had already forced Theatre Charlotte to creatively rethink how to share performances remotely. Jackie Timmons, director of development and marketing, says they quickly adapted by streaming shows and interviews online, adding parking-lot shows as soon as it felt safe. Just as performers and audiences settled into a new pandemic routine, their beloved theater burned in late December 2020 after a fire started in the HVAC system.
There were times Timmons doubted a comeback. “Of course. Probably at least once a week,” she says. “But we know that Theatre Charlotte is important in the lives of so many in our community as a creative outlet, an escape, a family and a home, so we dig a little
deeper, find more creative solutions, move on to Plan B (or probably Plan Q at this point) and keep going.”
Without a theater last year, the actors went on tour, performing in venues around the city. As of this writing, the theater is awaiting permanent seating plus finishing touches like paint and decor, but Timmons says the renovation is far enough along to invite audiences back as they prepare for a larger stage production and grand reopening in January with Something Rotten. It’s a practical move that allows theatergoers to see the work in progress and keeps Season 95 moving forward.
“Being ‘on the road’ last season helped us meet new audiences and forged some new partnerships with great organizations that we hope to continue to build upon. We absolutely have a new appreciation for our home and will certainly never take it for granted again,” Timmons says. SP
Misery runs Nov. 4-13. For ticket information and upcoming shows visit theatrecharlotte.org.OF RON LAW BY JOE CIARLANTE
AFTER AN EXTENSIVE FIRE NEARLY TWO YEARS AGO, THEATRE CHARLOTTE IS READY TO RAISE THE CURTAINS AGAIN AT HOME IN MYERS PARK.