Aerin It OutNightlife

Eden of Plaza Is an Alluring New Nightlife Spot in Plaza Midwood

Back in time, gun violence, post pandemic social scene, Optimist Hall, Waffle House
Aerin Spruill

In a dimly lit nook beyond the second-floor bar at Eden of Plaza, on an eerily quiet night for Midwood’s newest addition, the Queen City’s latest visitor looked oddly at home on a swing that hung in front of a neon sign that read “Guilty pleasures.”

The glow of the red light bounced playfully off her sun-kissed Bahamian skin as her long legs swung to and fro, conjuring the most infectious smile. We hadn’t reserved a section, and we didn’t know if we were in one, but as she owned the camera — twisting, posing and tossing her booty-cheek-long tresses — there was no doubt: she was a VIP, she was the forbidden fruit, and Eve could never.

Let me tell you about my new best friend.

Last year, a girlfriend gave me a spirited update on her upcoming European travels with a “high school bestie.” Without even blinking, I knew I’d again exposed my worst character flaw as an only child: jealousy. How could I possibly share in a social corner where she is the Shug to my Celie?

Caught red-handed, I saw the “Now here you go” look flash across her face in combination with a neck roll. But instead of giving me the ever-familiar “talking to,” she smacked her lips as her frown slid into a chuckle and she shook her head, resigned at my singleton shenanigans, and said, “Aerin, y’all are gonna love each other.”

One year and one single bathroom-style compliment via DM, I’m over here earnestly explaining to my boyfriend that said second-hand bestie and I have a highly curated, jam-packed schedule for her upcoming visit to Charlotte. The way his eyes rolled back in his head you would’ve thought I was the chick on the plane screaming out, “No, she is my REAL friend.”

Cut to our first meet-cute, which rivaled that of a Color Purple reunion featuring unplanned matching fits and undeniable chemistry. I knew I’d thwarted my boyfriend’s insurgence. Defeated, he turned to me and said, “Y’all are gonna have fun this week.”

And with that W, my attention turned to our upcoming melandate (yes, I’m trying to make melanin and date happen) at the city’s newest social lounge. Spoiler alert: It’s not in South End.

It’s safe to say most of Plaza Midwood has been waiting impatiently to find out what the hell was actually going on with the accursed building at the corner of Gordon Street and Pecan Avenue. Not because we were missing the cheese curds at Peculiar Rabbit or because any replacement was going to soothe the loss of other ‘hood staples, but rather the restlessness has seemed to be more a sinister excitement for an impending collective disappointment. Guilty.

I’d forgotten I’d given the @edenofplaza account a follow as rumors of an opening seemed to solidify in February, but was reminded when a ton of influencers promoting the new spot flooded my timeline a couple of weeks ago. This was it. Months of anticipation boiled down to weeks of guerilla marketing only works for a rare few. But on opening night, Aug. 11, the sinners gathered to party like hell. It worked, my interest was piqued, and we were taking a bite for ladies’ night.

For a nightlife destination perceivably off to a “rocky start,” Eden of Plaza seems to have the makings of a Lost & Found in Plaza Midwood [Editor’s Note: Technically Commonwealth, but we go by what the readers know] with the potential for greater impact and the foundational following “to outrun the curse of the corner.”

Think Instagrammable backdrops; an elevated interior boasting plush, velvet furniture, floral wallpaper, and lush deco; thoughtful and inclusive marketing; hookah options; craft cocktails; and a chef-driven menu with lofty munchies.

Eden also stays open later on more nights than its neighbors, features lots of space (with hide-and-seek meets escape room aesthetic) spread out over three levels and a patio. A soon-to-be-complete rooftop will be the cherry on top.

As a Black-owned business, Eden also stands to inject new flavor into the recipe of Plaza Midwood.

Sure, I sound prematurely optimistic after one drink (post-pre-game) on a not-so-crowded night watching a curious best friend-to-be explore a new spot surrounded by women. Obviously, that’s an introvert’s small slice of Heaven.

Devil’s advocate says Plaza’s already congested and parking sucks. Pricing is a bit high across the board, but I’m a dive bar baby with sticker shock. Foot traffic and loose restrictions at surrounding hot spots will challenge dress code requirements. It’s quite the departure from the Plaza “brand,” and let’s face it, Midwood is a whole mood that’s stubborn to change.

But if Eden plays the game right, it could end up being the rib that Plaza didn’t know it was missing.

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