Thursday, May 14, 2009

Soul melds food and music

(Photos courtesy of Balthazar Photo)
On the heels of opening a second Cosmos in Ballantyne, DJ/chef/nightlife pioneer Andy Kastanas, along with James Fedele, is tackling another new concept -- this time in Plaza-Midwood.

Soul Gastrolounge opened last week on the corner of Pecan and Central avenues. It's in the heart of P-M, but blink and you'll miss it. Subtle signage and a second-floor location keeps it relatively hidden. To that end, it could become one of the best-kept secrets in the neighborhood.

Inside, it's a cozy space with a rustic feel -- "old world pub meets Halston's penthouse," according to a press release announcing the opening.


The decor -- the vision of musician/DJ/jack-of-all-trades Scott Weaver -- includes dark hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, a wood-beamed ceiling and paintings from local artist Duy Huynh. Outdoor seating on the balcony offers a view of the skyline and the busy corner of Pecan and Central.

For Kastanas, Soul is the perfect blend of his two loves: food and music. On Wednesday night, he was back in the gastrolounge's small kitchen, helping Johnson & Wales-trained Patty Greene keep up with the dinner rush. And you'll often find him and co-owner Fedele in the DJ booth, spinning soulful house.


"I wanted to create something that satisfied both parts of me," he says. "It's not about eating and walking out and it's not a bar you come to just to get drunk."

Instead, he says, it's about social interaction. He hopes foodies and music lovers alike will sit back, relax with a cocktail and listen to the DJ while sharing sushi and small plates of Asian-inspired cuisine with their friends.

In addition to Kastanas and Fedele, such local DJs as That Guy Smitty, Scott Weaver, Jah-Sun Rising and Johnnie Davis will also be on the wheels, usually starting around 10 p.m. The music-restaurant -- as Kastanas likes to call it -- will be smoke-free until around 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends.

Perhaps more than anything, Kastanas and Fedele are hoping to add to the already vibrant neighborhood.

"There's already of lot of culture and a lot of things going on here," Kastanas says of Plaza-Midwood. "We're hoping this new addition will only enhance (it)."

To see video of Soul, click here. Look for a food review in next Friday's CLT.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

This place looks cool. The upstairs patio must have a great view of the skyline. Do you know what is going on with the first floor?

Anonymous said...

How about writing at least a little bit about the food??!!

David McKnight said...

So glad to read this great music news in The Observer, especially since it comes from "the old neighborhood" where this Raleigh-Durham pilgrim grew up in the Queen City. My old Midwood School patrol post was at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and The Plaza, so think if I had just stayed at home--I'd probably be right there on the upstairs patio sampling the nightly delectables and listening to some tunes.

Best wishes for much success there!

David McKnight

Douglas Merry said...

The food is excellent! from lamb "lollipops" to spicy tuna rolls, everything I have tried has been wonderful.

great atmosphere, great music, great addition to the neighborhood!

Mary said...

The "DJ/chef/nightlife pioneer" said "it's not about eating" but "social interaction." I think we're supposed to bring our own friends, though. If he's going to pay for music, wouldn't a live acoustic singer/guitarist be better that a DJ? The view of the Dairy Queen across the street isn't going to get me there. Yeah, I'm being critical of a place I haven't even been to, but I'm not going.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to go and enjoy the food and music. Now that Soul is open, does anyone have any scoop on what Kastanas is planning for the old Little Italy spot on Central before the McDonald's? Rumor had it that he bought that place, and it's been empty for a bit. I'm just wondering what the future might hold for that spot.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, Mary, if you think the typical "live acoustic/guitar singer" would be better suited for the entertainment, you aren't the clientele that they are going for. Charlotte needs more DJ spots and THANKS to these guys, it's getting another.

HouseHed

Anonymous said...

Is Soul just the 2nd floor of that space? I keep assuming it isn't open yet because the first floor is still papered over.

If so, any idea what's going to be beneath it?

Anonymous said...

Mary, I feel sorry for people like you. The patio actually has a nice view of the Charlotte skyline.

harris said...

"Clearly, Mary, if you think the typical "live acoustic/guitar singer" would be better suited for the entertainment, you aren't the clientele that they are going for. Charlotte needs more DJ spots and THANKS to these guys, it's getting another."


Yeah, because watching a guy play a record is fascinating. I only wish I had enough talent to play a recording of someone else’s music (for lack of a better word).

Anonymous said...

"if you think the typical "live acoustic/guitar singer" would be better suited for the entertainment, you aren't the clientele that they are going for"

I can live with that. I am just gald all the dbags in charlotte have somewhere to hang out.

chuck said...

I haven't been to Charlotte in years, but if there's anybody I know from there, Andy's the one to make this concept not just happen, but be really really great. Good luck my ol' friend!! Hopefully soon I'll make it down there and check it out. As for locals that have the chance, even though I haven't been yet, it's probably well worth a visit!

Anonymous said...

So Kastanas and Fedele are spreading their ability to overcharge for mediocre food and bad service to other parts of town. Neither one of those guys has ever once cared about their customer. Just showing off to their friends. Watch them work any of their places. Kastanas' wife is the only one who seems not to be showing off.

Anonymous said...

"I can live with that. I am just gald all the dbags in charlotte have somewhere to hang out."

Attitudes like that are the reason why Charlotte sucks. Everything here doesn't have to be the same. There are lots of places to see live music already.

Anom said...

The place downstairs is going to be an art gallery owned by an interesting and productive couple in town; Rodney, from Ace Custom Tatoo and Lisa, winner of the Mac and Cheese contest at Snug Harbor.

Anonymous said...

Yeah right. Somebody with a acoustic guitar playing Hootie or James Taylor covers is sooo baby boomer and Ballantyne. A DJ spinning house beats gives a place a vibe which is more what the Plaza/Midwood crowd reflects. Mary babe, keep your boat shoes out in the burbs.

Anonymous said...

Andy knows what he's doing, and anyone that doesn't like the idea can stay away because there will be plenty of patrons to support it. I just hope they've beefed up the structure in that building, it was pretty shoddy when the Perch was there.

Mary said...

Yeah, people associate "acoustic/guitar singer" with James Taylor. Assuming Soul Gastrolounge is wanting to be a "soul" place, I was thinking of something like Jimi Hendrix- Hear My Train A Comin'.

Anonymous said...

Apparently “soul” is repetitive music that has not changed since the early ‘90s