If you are familiar with Charlotte and/or craft beer, you are surely aware of Duckworth’s Grill and Tap House. There are now five locations in and around the Charlotte area. The most recent location boasts 151 Craft Beer on tap and 170 flat screen TVs! There is also a 55″ iPad mounted to the wall for your beer menu browsing while you wait for a table.
Then we go downstairs. The Cellar. I don’t normally talk about my own career in a public forum, but to answer all of the questions that I have had from so many people, I will. I am the General Manager of this new concept and I want to share my experience of the development and progression of this restaurant. Every Wednesday a group of eight experts in their individual fields all met to sculpt this concept. This is quite possibly the most brain power in one room since Thomas Jefferson dined alone. While that is an exaggeration, I am surrounded by some extremely talented people. It has been really cool to see the progression from week to week as we develop this super restaurant. I am confident The Cellar will change the dynamic of what we think of as a beer-centric restaurant in the Southeast.
The Cellar at Duckworth’s is opening to the public July 20th as a gastropub with a beer obsession. The Cellar will contain a modest twenty select taps and a beer engine for cask beers. Anyone who is familiar with the Duckworth’s brand will know the only thing modest about the beer wall is the number of taps. In addition to the draft beer there will be canned mostly local craft beers available. We are also focusing on a large bottle selection (for consumption onsite or to take home) in the namesake “Cellar” that will be introduced at a later date. We will also be offering some really great wines by the glass as well as by the bottle.
One of the most exciting ventures in the new concept is the addition of craft cocktails. This is a trend that has been catching on in Charlotte, Asheville, Atlanta, and larger southern towns over the past couple of years. The man behind the cocktails is Ron Oleksa. Ron has spent many hours mixing cocktails for us to try; this is a tough job, but we can suffer through the sampling of these tasty drinks. Six of us went to New York City and tried cocktails all over the city- this was not as terrible as it sounds. Rob Duckworth took us up there for research. Tasty, tasty, research! I have enjoyed the cocktails that Ron has created more than any we tried in New York. Ron, and now the rest of us at the Cellar, understand some craft cocktails. I strongly encourage you to read the descriptions of the cocktails on the iPad and choose for yourself which one sounds like you. I will recommend The Asian Pear or the Morning Flip as they have been my two favorites so far. (note from Cat-I recommend the East Village)
We will be offering fine dining food in a comfortable setting where you don’t have to get dressed up, with top-notch service. We have invited a couple of the most talented servers from the Duckworth’s location as well hand-picking the rest of the staff from around Charlotte’s best restaurants. Our Service Manager is Andrew Hayes, who many of you know from his bartending days at our Huntersville location and several other popular concepts in the Charlotte area. When Rob Duckworth asked me who I would want to be my Assistant General Manager, without hesitation I chose Drew as he and I have worked well together for about 4 years and I know that he will bring the same passion to each shift that I do. Our service staff will keep with the prohibition-era speakeasy theme; we will all be decked out in some 1920’s type clothing, suspenders and all! Feel free to get dressed up if you want to, but please, leave your Tommy Gun at home.
So the anchor to the gastropub is the food menu. I am ecstatic to unveil our menu to Charlotte and the rest of the foodie nation. We hired an amazing Executive Chef, Fred Quinnones to write the menu for the gastropub. One of the highlights is the Taco Plate with a Braised Chicken Taco, a Pork Belly Taco, and an Octopus Taco. Another favorite is the 32oz Tomahawk Ribeye cooked in a 1800 degree Broiler- WOW!!! The menu also includes Truffle Mac and Cheese, Charcuterie boards, Espresso Rubbed Carpaccio Lamb Tenderloin, Smoked Salmon Flatbread, Broiled Lamb Chops, and Corn Flake crusted French Toast. Another great side dish is the Cellar’s take on Duckworth’s Fresh Cut Fries: Truffle Hand Cut Fries with a Malt Vinegar Aioli dipping sauce and parmesan cheese. Nick Pawlik is the Sous Chef and the heir apparent to be the Executive Chef in the next Cellar: Greensboro? Charleston? Asheville? Undetermined at this point. With these two Chefs in the kitchen and the talented Culinary Team they assembled, the sky is the limit!
The first preview of the Cellar was an excellent beer dinner with Founders Brewing. This was a five course meal paired with five great beers that started out with Devil Dancer, a 13%abv Triple IPA. Jeremy Kosmicki, the Brewmaster, called Devil Dancer an “interesting choice to start the dinner.”
Most people work their way up to a beer dinner. At The Cellar, we chose to dive in head first, off the shore!
With the combination of craft libations and the amazing food the culinary team is producing, this is a destination where even Al Capone would be willing to wait for a table. The Cellar at Duckworth’s has been a long time coming and we are eager to slide open our door to all the beer nerds, wine snobs, cocktail geeks, and foodies that happen to find themselves in Charlotte!