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Cornelius News

Local restaurateurs have appetite for expansion as economy continues to grow

Joe and Katy Kindred

By Dave Vieser. With a hot local economy, local restaurateurs are expanding.

Fresh Chef co-owner Mel Funk has opened his third location in the Cotswold neighborhood in Charlotte, taking out a 10-year lease on the old 2,600 square foot Block and Grinder space on Providence Road. Funk brought the Fresh Chef concept, which he launched in the Shops at Fresh Market, to Mooresville last year.

The restaurant industry is growing faster than much of the rest of the economy, including health care, construction and manufacturing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says food services and drinking places will eclipse manufacturing in just a few years. Thing is, restaurant jobs pay about half of what manufacturing pays.

The growth seems to be in hip, sit-down restaurants, some of it at the expense of tired casual dining chains like Applebee’s, which is closing 135 of its locations nationwide.

Tons of us—literally—are working, and we don’t have time to cook. As a portion of our total household budgets, restaurants gobble up about twice as much as they did when June Cleaver prepared dinner—and breakfast—for Ward and the boys.
Indeed, local restaurateurs are looking at the Langtree location of Block and Grinder, a higher-end, farm-to-table eatery with some entrees priced well over $30.

Meanwhile, renovation work has resumed with a vengeance at the former Rusty Rudder, where the new owners had hoped to have “Hello, Sailor” open for this summer. Compliance issues with the outdoor deck were the major issue which delayed their opening according to co-owner Katy Kindred.

“The facility was built some 15 years ago and compliance requirements for issues such as the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA) and fire suppression equipment have changed dramatically over the years,” said Kindred. “At one point we were facing the possibility of having to rebuild the entire outdoor deck, but we negotiated an agreement with the county and we’re now firing on all cylinders towards what we hope will be an October opening.”

Husband and co-owner Joe Kindred will oversee the menu while Katy focuses on the design, wine selections and social media. Current plans call for dining inside and dockside, with cocktails boasting a mid-century vibe. The well-known outdoor tiki bar on the dock, which drew many crowds to the Rusty Rudder will also remain part of the Hello Sailor experience.

The Kindreds have some solid experience under their belts: They operate the award-winning Kindred restaurant in downtown Davidson.
On the other side of town, work is continuing at a fever pitch on Joe Douglas’ Cowboy Restaurant on Hwy. 21, near Bailey Road. Specific menu details are still being formulated but it’s safe to think in terms of what would satisfy a hungry cowboy. The 4,000 square foot restaurant, currently under construction on a three-acre parcel at Bailey Road, is across from 131 Main.

Douglas plans a menu with steaks, ribs and some chicken too, all in a fast casual format. “We’re talking about filet, rib eye, quality steaks and everything will be fresh. I’m also going to concentrate on providing a high level of service.”
They hope to be open by late fall.

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