Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vapiano opens uptown

Vapiano opened Monday, the latest site of an international chain in the "fresh-casual" category, at 201 S. Tryon St. It's a blend of old- and new-school approaches: Pasta is made daily on site, for example, while customers go through a sort of buffet line, but use a "chip card" to order (and servers are dubbed your personal "Vapianisti" -- no, really). You specify type of pasta and sauce, or the ingredients on your hand-tossed pizza or salad, and dine in an interior that boasts fresh herb plants on tables and live olive trees scattered about. Pastas run about $7-$10, panini about $8 and pizzas about $7-$8.

German native Lars Kruse, the local franchisee, first found Vapiano when living in Dusseldorf; now a Wake Forest-educated banker, he says Charlotte is "the perfect spot for a Vapiano. It is fast-growing, modern and nice – just like Vapiano," according to press materials. Michael Mascali, with experience at Cheesecake Factory and Frankie's Italian Grille, is also a part of the operation, which has about 70 locations now, and another 100 planned.