Renowned Charlotte chef Greg Collier and his wife Subrina announced this morning that they plan to open Leah & Louise, a restaurant inspired by old Memphis juke joints, in Camp North End this fall.
The juke joint, also known as a barrelhouse, is defined as a small roadside establishment in the southeastern United States where you can eat and drink and dance to music provided by a jukebox. The Colliers, both Memphis natives, aim to keep that culture alive with Leah & Louise.
“We want to bring that ethos of placemaking into 2019,” Subrina said in a release. “We’re drawing inspiration from the juke joint’s connection to blues music and food.”
Greg and Subrina previously teamed up to open Uptown Yolk in Fourth Ward. Greg, the first black chef from Charlotte to earn a nod as a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s best chef award, is also known for spearheading the pop-up dining series Soul Food Sessions and for his work as head chef at Loft & Cellar.
He will create a menu that reflects their interpretation of classic Southern dishes, ingredients and techniques, including a “Family Meal” every Sunday, seasonal cocktails and a low-to-no-ABV specialty drinks menu.
“We’re working on dishes that have become my staples and show our heritage, including hoecakes, chicken skins, ham hock jam,” Greg said. “We’re taking a lot of inspiration from Mississippi river valley foodways — think Memphis, Jackson, Mississippi and New Orleans.”
The 1,800-sqaure-foot, 58-seat (including 16 outside) eatery will be the first full-service restaurant in the 75-acre Camp North End compound, which once served as a factory for Model T cars and Hercules missiles. Located just north of Uptown next to the Druid Hills South neighborhood, Camp North End is one of the largest adaptive reuse projects currently underway in the United States.
“Camp North End is one of the few places in Charlotte preserving the architectural history of the neighborhood,” Subrina said. “ATCO has done a great job of beautifying a historic space and that’s in line with what we want to do. Being located in a historically African-American neighborhood was also a key factor for us.”
The restaurant will be named after Greg’s late sister and grandmother, respectively.
“My baby sister Leah and my Granny Louise both died too soon for me,” Greg said. “In the kitchen, Leah was always fun and creative, and my Granny was always classic and consistent with cooking and techniques.”