Thursday, July 30, 2009

Reinventing nightlife, one bar at a time

Even in the recession, some brave entrepreneurs are taking chances, leasing failed bars and clubs and turning them into new concepts. In fact, two local men are making a business out of bar reinvention.

Alan Beal and Jose Morales own Bar Concepts Incorporated, a company dedicated to helping struggling nightlife venues boost marketing, update their spaces and get partygoers in the door.

“There are so many places that are stressed by the economy right now,” Beal says. “Sometimes all they need is a second pair of eyes.”

Within 24 hours of launching BCI’s Web site this spring, Beal says he had two new clients.

Beal and Morales’ latest project is at the Indochine Grill in the EpiCentre. It started out as a Vietnamese restaurant with Japanese and French influences. But the owners quickly realized that without a bar component, EpiCentre visitors were bypassing it.

Beal says BCI is helping add a bar, update the interior and turn it into an Asian fusion restaurant with tapas and a lounge-like feel.

“The d├ęcor looked too much like a standard Chinese buffet chain,” he says.

After a soft opening on Wednesday, Indochine is set to officially reopen next week.

Also on Beal’s project list this month: the old Hom nightclub multilevel complex. Plans include opening a Fiji Sushi Bar & Lounge (in the old Feast space) and Kashmere, an upscale “progressive nightclub” downstairs (where Liv used to be).

He expects to open both venues in August and sees a new entertainment district brewing along Fifth Street between Church and Tryon streets.

"With Basil open, Fiji and Kashmere coming, and the development going on at Ivey's, there are going to be a lot of choices for destination spots," he says. "You'll have the EpiCentre, the N.C. Music Factory and now the Fifth Street corridor."


Rob said...

It would be great to see something go in where Daddy's used to be on the corner of 5th & Church; that space has been vacant for over a year and really brings that corridor down. Maybe Mr. Latorre should lower his asking price to get that space filled.

Anonymous said...

Coyote Ugly wanted to take the Big Daddy's space but the people in 4th Ward complained about it bringing down the neighborhood or being too noisy. The neighbors around there want to see it filled but then complain when something comes along so goodluck trying to fill that space!

Anonymous said...

I like the street just as it is now, nice and quiet.
There's still a lot of residential along that street such as Avenue and Ivey's. EpiCenter is only a few blocks walk away for me. I rather walk 5 minutes for entertainment and be able to sleep at 2 am when I come home.

I would prefer venues that would complement the residential aspect of the block and leave the late night clubs to areas that don't have so many residents. Give us a late night diner, an Indian restaurant, a small specialty market like Reids but BETTER, a Belgian Beer Bar, a Flying Saucer. Stuff like that, stuff that will last. Pure nightclub type bars have continually proven to fail on this block.

Anonymous said...

I agree, try something different for once. Uptown has to offer something besides wall to wall nightclubs. After awhile they are all the same. Shake things up a bit and offer something new and fresh. Something that you wont have so much constant competition with.
Something besides a bar.

Comedy club, Jazz club, Blues club ???

Uptown needs to expand it's sight. It needs to mature a bit and offer things for everyone. Besides, the big spenders aren't he 20 somethings in the nightclubs. It's the 40 somethings with a giant bank account.

Anonymous said...

It would be fantastic to have a Flying Saucer type of beer bar somewhere in the Uptown area. I'm a little surprised that no one has tried that concept yet. I would think that would work great as an "after work" meeting place most evenings and not just simply a weekend hangout.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:18 if you want something different. Why don't you open something new?????

Anonymous said...



I also like the ideas of a comedy club, jazz club and blues club.

How about a brew your own brewery ? I know plenty of people who would love to do this but cannot due to the limited space of condo living.

Anonymous said...

I agree with a late night food place or an ethnic restaurant that doesn't exist yet Uptown. Even something proven that is popular already, like Flying Saucer.

I'd really like to see more alternative places Uptown. Everything is either too upscale or just plain redneck...

Anonymous said...

Are there any fun, young people in this city? Everytime I go out I'm so disappointed. There are never a lot of people and if there is a crowd, lots of rednecks and weird, old people. Is everyone at a Saturday night Elevation Church service (LAME) or something???

Anonymous said...

i think people were bypassing Indochine for their health inspection score of 84 (back in May). i've never been and will never go.

Anonymous said...

I agree. That strip doesn't need to be one bar after another.. You already have the Madison's, Phil's, Connelly's row up the street a bit.

Uptown needs to wake up. Another sushi place now? We went from only KO Sushi to now we'll have Room 112, Enzo in Epicentre, and this new one at Feast..

I agree that they need to bring in more culture and less music/drinking. Stop drawing the college scene and start bringing in the professionals and people who keep this city going and actually live in Uptown. I love the idea of a comedy club. A jazz bar doesn't sound bad either..

They do need to fill the Daddy's hole as well. It's like this gleaming example of failure for that block. Plus they keep it looking trashy with the parking leasing signs and no black out on the windows.

Anonymous said...

Ah, brave entrepreneurs taking chances... but in this recession will they end up getting paid?

Barnabas said...

The open-air shopping mall that is the Epicentre will eventually fail. The "Summer Concert Series" there is a joke. "National Recording Artists", yeah right. What National act is gonna play in front of a CVS?

Epicentre is the new CityFair. I wonder what the Charlotte City Council will do with it when the Epicentre is thrown in their lap? An semi-pro indoor soccer team?

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:39 PM,

Because that's not the type of business I am in. I am just throwing some ideas out there incase anyone important to these ventures -Mr. Beal/Mr. Latorre - is listening.

For once it would be nice to see that block succeed. Basil is a fine example of what the neighborhood wants. All of Latorre's past endeavors are an example of what wont work.

None said...


What sort of business are you in? Perhaps Mr. Latorre would like to consult you on how to run your business.

It's very annoying to see folks use "they" should do this and "they" should do that. If it is so important, take some charge and get some investors to make a change. Otherwise, quit complaining.

Anonymous said...

There are alot of complainer's on this blog. There are plenty of great spots to hang out in Charlotte. NoDa. Central Ave, East Blvd, Southend, Montford Dr., Ballentyne, 7th St., Ayserly, University, Lake Norman. Give me a break people. Get out of your comfort zone.

Timothy said...

My Favorite comment of the thread:

"I like the street just as it is now, nice and quiet. "

If you wanted a quiet residential district, and you live uptown, I think you missed the mark a bit. Dilworth is a mile or 2 south of your condo. People who desire a quiet lifestyle don't need to live downtown. I thought that went without saying.

And, to the people who would like to see a Jazz bar uptown. Uh, we had one...on Church St., and nobody went, so they closed down. Must have been too cultural for Charlotte?

btw, we had a comedy club in uptown, next to where Time used to be on College, and nobody went, and we STILL have a very historical Blues bar just east of uptown, in Elizabeth, called Double Door, that struggles to get people through the door as well.

I'm just sayin'....

Anonymous said...

would not take much to be better than Reid's. What a joke!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone actually think Charlotte has a good nightlife? If you do, you really need to get out of Charlotte more...

Mary said...

I like entrepreneurs--their creativity, willingness to invest in an idea and their excitement. I'm reserved when it comes to investments, so I enjoy some of their excitement without the financial risk. As long as they don't start moaning when their ideas turn out to be flops.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:55-First, I find your comment hilarious. Second, where are you going on a Saturday night that it's dead?? EpiCentre eventually is going to turn into a college block for UNCC students like there are in other real college towns. You can already see it starting to happen if you just look at Suite. The true Charlotteans (meaning you've lived here for 6 months... ha ha) will continue to frequent their normal favorite "dive" bars like Montford Drive, Plaza/Midwood, etc... I agree, the niche has to be filled uptown for those that are a little older and ready to spend money. Just last night, we went through the whole thought process of "OK, do we spend $15 on parking plus $5 per beer plus a $5 cover... or do we just go to Montford Drive and spend a third of that?" If uptown is going to continue to charge outrageous prices, they have to find some way to market to people who are willing to pay, otherwise it'll be a novelty for a few months and then fail. Just my opinion, for what it's worth. Those of us with less than a 6-figure salary might still go uptown on rare occasions as a treat, but give us $1 domestics and you know where to find us on normal nights.

Anonymous said...

$1 domestics ?

Why not drink less but drink quality ?

I rather drink (1) 10.5% ABV Belgian Pirate for $6 than (6) $1 Bud "taste like my grandma pissed in a bottle" lights.

Better Belgian buzz (all natural products) versus Hangover headache (due to a bottle of piss and chemicals and preservatives).

Bottom line for you if all you are concerned about is $$$ is that it's the same price for the ABV, just better taste and better style.

If you are in college I cannot believe you can't figure this out.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Cahrlotte needs to branch out to more then just bars or at least to a better varity of bar. We already have Epi, lets try some concepts that move the city in a new direction. However I gotta say I really like the Saturday Concert Series at EpiCentre. They aren't the newsest national acts but they are a lot of fun to go see. I never thought I'd see Vanilla Ice perform Go Ninja Go live....I'm just saying it was awesome

Anonymous said...

The fact that people think $5 to park in uptown is ridiculous is well, ridiculous. Try to find those prices, let alone an actual parking space, in a larger city! There is no excuse why more people don't frequent uptown: traffic is not bad at all, parking is cheap and abundant, most bars and clubs really aren't that expensive (maybe for Charlotte but not somewhere else), and there are a lot of good restaurants, you can walk around and people watch in a real urban setting unlike some fake suburban shopping center. Gosh, people in Charlotte are just pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Come on Charlotte, I thought that this was a progressive town. Instead it is just an overgrown redneck town that's to cheap to spend any money. If you are going to have a good time and experience the best of a city, then you must be prepared to spend some money. Spending only a dollar for domestic drafts are only good during happy hour stop being cheap you guys.