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Resident Culture Unveils Plans for South End Location

Brewery cultivates existing partnerships with taco and coffee businesses

After months of whispers inside the Charlotte beer rumor mill, Resident Culture Brewing Company is finally making their second location official. The Plaza Midwood brewery announced plans to open a second taproom at 332 West Bland St., a substantial 17,000-square-foot space nestled between boutique entertainment parlor Slingshot, New Orleans breakfast joint Ruby Sunshine and upscale cocktail lounge Lost & Found. The 1920s building, which lies adjacent to The Unknown Brewing Co. taproom, once served as the City of Charlotte’s first bus maintenance facility.

“You just don’t find spaces like this one very often, especially in Charlotte,” explained Resident Culture co-owner Phillip McLamb. The sprawling, 10,000-square-foot main floor features expansive windows, high timber ceilings with skylights, and three separate entrances, not to mention incredible views of the Uptown skyline. There’s also nearly 1,000 square feet of patio space and a basement that’s more than 6,800 square feet, which they plan to utilize as an event space, with the potential for live music in the future.

Resident Culture
Resident Culture’s new location is in a 17,000-square-foot space on West Bland Street. (Photo by Jessica Gaddy)

The timing couldn’t be better for the Resident Culture team, whose original Central Avenue location is experiencing some growing pains associated with an acceleration in distribution, the brewery’s response to COVID’s negative impact on 2020 draft sales.

“We’re losing our private event space on Central Avenue because we’re turning it all into production and cold box space,” continued McLamb. The brewery recently beefed up production capacity with the addition of two new 40-barrel fermenters to help meet increasing demand for their packaged products.

But the new space also provides other advantages, according to co-owner Amanda McLamb. “We’re seeing a lot of fun, creative folks in Charlotte moving their offices into this area of town. So the idea that this area could turn into a walkable arts district is something that we’re really excited about.”

For her husband Phillip, the chance to inject a little spark into that growing arts vibe is quite appealing. “South End is an amazing sort of sub-market within Charlotte. The street and the sidewalk has a lot of energy, which is something that a lot of Charlotte lacks,” he explained. “It’s more like the vibe you get in New York or some other big cities.”

But that’s only the start of Resident Culture’s ambitious plans for 332 West Bland St., which they hope will be refitted and ready to receive customers before the end of 2021. The real excitement, at least for the RC team, is tied to the brewery’s South End partners, Chilito Tacos and Mostra Coffee

The Intersection of Beer, Coffee and Tacos

Throughout 2020, Chilito Tacos took Charlotte by storm with their craveable-and-delicious breakfast tacos.  After a decade of working as a chef in the Queen City, owner Hector González-Mora launched the business in the fall of 2019 with the help of his partner Sara Akhavan, whose background is in food and beverage marketing. What started as a casual weekend pop-up shop, contrived to channel a taste of Hector’s Mexican and Los Angeles heritage, evolved far more rapidly than planned.

“When we started, we knew that we could sell 100 or 200 tacos on a given Saturday by partnering with local coffee shops,” Sara explained. “But when COVID came around, our bookings disappeared overnight. So I contacted Amanda and Phillip, who we knew through mutual friends.” 

Resident Culture
The Resident Culture/Chilito Taco team (L to R): Hector González-Mora, Sara Akhavan, Chris Tropeano, Amanda McLamb and Phillip McLamb. (Photo by Jessica Gaddy)

By utilizing Instagram to announce their weekly taco drops and an online system to capture orders, the pop-up business was able to convert Resident Culture’s parking lot into a taco drive-thru on weekends.  

Pretty soon, they were maxing out at 600 tacos every Saturday, while the time required to sell them rapidly dwindled from days to hours. “These days, it only takes about 45 minutes,” she continued. To streamline operations, they focused on their most popular options, including pork belly, barbacoa and chorizo tacos for meat-eaters, plus a migas-style taco and even a vegan option (which replaces the meat and egg with sweet potato and a mushroom fricassee).

Mostra Coffee, a company with roots in San Diego, is the brewery’s second partner, and another organization with an established history of collaborating with RC. The brewery infused Same Ghost Every Night, an imperial stout released in fall 2020, with Mostra’s Ghost Bear coffee, kicking off a relationship that the Resident Culture team looks forward to expanding.

“We’re obviously obsessed with their incredible coffee and loved using it in our beer,” said RC co-owner Amanda. “So it was a very natural thing to try to introduce them to the Charlotte community. And when they said yes, we were pinching ourselves a little bit.” 

Resident Culture
The expansive 10,000-square-foot main floor will highlight Resident Culture partners Chilito Tacos and Mostra Coffee. (Photo by Jessica Gaddy)

In addition to being a widely sought after partner within the craft brewing community, Mostra was awarded the 2020 Micro Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine.

Allowing these partners to develop separate identities within their new space is important to Amanda. “The partnerships that we’ve brought into this trifecta each does something so unique that we love, so we really wanted each to have a separate space to celebrate it,” she explained.

So while the brewery’s tap wall will be positioned in the front portion of the building (closest to West Bland Street), the tacos and coffee will occupy their own dedicated space within the main building.

A Unifying Space

With the addition of coffee and breakfast tacos, the new taproom will embrace a daily schedule reminiscent of a full-service restaurant, opening early to serve the breakfast crowd while remaining open late to support South End’s once thriving (and hopefully resurgent) cocktail scene.

In order to help deliver a space with such complex needs, the Resident Culture team brought in another vibrant partner to help realize their vision: Cluck Design Collaborative

“We’ve walked into so many of the spaces that Cluck has worked with, and they would just blow our minds.  Time and time again, their name came up,” Amanda explained. Selecting the Charlotte-based design firm felt like an easy decision. “They think outside of the box and are really thoughtful about what the whole experience is like when people come in the door.”

Chilito will expand upon their ever-popular breakfast tacos, introducing an a la carte menu reminiscent of a L.A. taqueria, complete with up to a dozen different taco varieties, plus nachos, burritos, and even some seasonal treats like tamales.

“Charlotte has gotten a little bit more diverse in recent years,” Sara clarified. “So people have come into contact with Hispanic culture and they’re familiar with many of the foods, they just don’t know where to get them. We want to help bring it to them.”

The patio at Resident Culture’s new space. (Photo by Jessica Gaddy)

Resident Culture beer fans can expect an assortment mirroring their Plaza-Midwood location, with a few twists, according to head brewer Chris “Tropes” Tropeano. “I do plan on having some beers like our Island Time Mexican lager with lime available pretty much all the time here, because it goes so well with the food being offered.”

The brewery plans to add cocktails to the menu as well, both at the upstairs bar and within the event space. There’s even talk of having a reserve bar in the basement for special offerings that aren’t readily available, although he admits, “that’s kind of TBD.”

But what about the space’s overall vibe? It will be decidedly on brand, according to Tropeano. “I think we’ve really established who we are over the past couple of years, especially from the branding perspective, and that’s really based around Maryssa.”

Fans of Resident Culture’s branding can expect plenty of Maryssa Pickett’s art throughout the new South End taproom. (Artwork by Maryssa Pickett)

Full-time designer Maryssa Pickett’s unique vision has elevated Resident Culture to the national stage over their 3+ years in business, providing the brand with a readily identifiable personality while injecting a little funk into their offerings. Expect to see Maryssa’s creative stamp all over 332 West Bland.

“We’re going to let her go wild a little bit,” explained Amanda emphatically. “The longer that you’re in this space, the more you will start to discover little pieces of our Resident Culture personality.”

An Eye Toward the Future

Like so many local breweries, Resident Culture pivoted hard toward packaging in 2020, realigning their mix to the point where 90% of their product was going into cans or bottles. The timely purchase of a canning line just prior to the start of the pandemic allowed them to weather the storm during a time when their taproom was largely shuttered. But the brewery’s sights are now fixed on 2021 and the potential return of in-person customer service.

“Servicing this location and getting our original taproom back to where it was before COVID, those are the priorities,” Phillip explained. “But I think another goal is to not lose the momentum we gained during COVID in terms of distribution.”

The taproom’s basement is more than 6,800 square feet and will be utilized as an event space, with an eye toward live music in the future. (Photo by Jessica Gaddy)

Between their additional capacity and a more production-focused facility on Central Avenue, the brewery looks poised to emerge from a difficult 2020 with newfound resilience. “This really is a great time to expand, if you have the ability. It’s pretty remarkable,” Phillip continued. 

Apart from all the competing goals and priorities, getting back to the things that made Resident Culture a special brewery remains important too. 

“We’ve been so focused on just keeping the lights on this year,” head brewer Tropeano mused.  “Just making beer and putting it in cans so we can keep our employees employed.  Some of those special beer projects we enjoy have gotten sidelined a little bit.  We really want to get back to those again too.” 

“Servicing this location and getting our original taproom back to where it was before COVID, those are the priorities,” Phillip explained. “But I think another goal is to not lose the momentum we gained during COVID in terms of distribution.”

Between their additional capacity and a more production-focused facility on Central Avenue, the brewery looks poised to emerge from a difficult 2020 with newfound resilience. “This really is a great time to expand, if you have the ability. It’s pretty remarkable,” Phillip continued. 

Apart from all the competing goals and priorities, getting back to the things that made Resident Culture a special brewery remains important too.

“We’ve been so focused on just keeping the lights on this year,” head brewer Tropeano mused. “Just making beer and putting it in cans so we can keep our employees employed. Some of those special beer projects we enjoy have gotten sidelined a little bit. We really want to get back to those again too.” 

This article was originally published by our latest news partners, BeerCharlotte.com, the leading source for news and information about Charlotte’s craft beer scene since 2018.  Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

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