CBJ Morning Buzz: Enat Ethiopian restaurant debuts at Optimist Hall; BayHaven festival returning for year two

CBJ Morning Buzz: Enat Ethiopian restaurant debuts at Optimist Hall; BayHaven festival returning for year two

By   –  Associate Editor, Charlotte Business Journal

The food-hall lineup at Optimist Hall will be complete this weekend, with Enat Ethiopian opening in the final stall there. The restaurant, which got its start in Charlotte in 2017, will debut its outpost at the former mill on May 22, according to a press release.

“Joining Optimist Hall seems like a great opportunity to help grow the Charlotte food scene by introducing Ethiopian cuisine to a much broader audience of open-minded foodies,” owner Tina Tedla said back in September, when the lease for the food stall was signed.

Enat serves up traditional East African dishes with a modern flair, using recipes inspired by Tedla’s mother. The original location is at 4450 The Plaza in east Charlotte’s Shannon Park neighborhood.

The sprawling Optimist Hall complex was once home to Charlotte’s largest textile mill, according to its website. It now houses 147,000 square feet of restaurants, retail and office space, including the 22,000-square-foot food hall with 19 stalls. Charlotte-based White Point Partners and Atlanta-based Paces Properties led the adaptive-reuse development of the property at 1115 N. Brevard St., just north of uptown.

A second location of barbecue restaurant Noble Smoke opened there in March. Other dining options in the food hall include The Dumpling Lady, Velvet Taco, Harriett’s Hamburgers and Felix’s Empenadas, to name a few.

In other local news:

Just a couple of miles away from Optimist Hall at Camp North End, another adaptive-reuse project that is transforming a complex of old industrial buildings, the restaurateurs behind BayHaven Food & Wine Festival are gearing up for a second year.

The inaugural festival brought more than 60 participating chefs and 2,000 attendees to Camp North End last fall, according to a press release. Run by J. Leigh Events, the event was founded by BayHaven Restaurant Group owners Subrina and Greg Collier, Charlotte’s first chef to advance to the finals in the prestigious James Beard Awards.

This year’s festival will run for five days, Oct. 19-23, at multiple locations, with intimate, multicourse chef dinners, a large tasting event and a tailgate celebration in the works. It celebrates Black foodways and culinary traditions. The lineup will be revealed — and ticket sales launched — during a Juneteenth Kickoff Carnival set for June 19 at Camp North End.