Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Diner lands; Newk's on way

Expect Mattie's Diner -- a former New Jersey diner renovated and dropped into place at the N.C. Music Factory on the northwest side of Uptown -- to open sometime in late September.

Partners Matt King and Steve Estes have done restaurant work for years, including stints at Einstein Bros. Bagel and Jason's Delis, and heard from New York and New Jersey customers how desperate they were for a 24/7 diner. So they sought out this one -- pictured on the cover of the book "Jersey Diners" -- found it was available and brought it to Charlotte in 2005. (That's a detailed and entertaining story in and of itself, including King calling the 40-plus men in South Jersey with the name the author remembered as the owner's.)

They've worked on it since then and plan a menu with both standards and "a little contemporary twist." Among the standards will be pot roast, "because there's not much you can do with pot roast except have the best pot roast," says King, and among daily specials will be Tamale Tuesdays and Red Beans and Rice Mondays (culled from King and Estes' time in Louisiana, where laundry day was Monday and that's what you let cook on the stove).

Newk's arrives

Look for Newk’s Express CafĂ© to open in mid-September across from the Shops at Blakeney in south Charlotte if all goes according to plan, the first of this fast-casual chain to enter North Carolina. Salads, oven-baked sandwiches, California-style pizza and soups are its mainstays, and former Carolina Panther Wesley Walls is among this location's partners.