Food & DrinkGuides & Events

What to Do and Where to Eat at Concord’s Gibson Mill

A guide to navigating the food hall, antique mall and activities in the largest adaptive reuse development in the Charlotte area

A sign above a building reads Gibson Mill Market
Gibson Mill Market in Concord. (Courtesy of Black Wednesday)

In 1986, David H. Murdock, one of the largest shareholders in Occidental Petroleum in the 1980s, sold the Cannon Mills in Concord to Fieldcrest, including its No. 6 plant at 325 McGill Ave. NW, also known as Gibson Mill.

Fieldcrest would become one of the largest producers of home furnishing and textile products in the world before 1997, when a manufacturer called Pilllowtext purchased that company. The industry then began to dwindle and downsize, directly affecting Pillowtext, which filed for bankruptcy in 2003, resulting in 4,000 jobs lost in Cabarrus County.

One year later, a few friends threw in together to buy the property and turn it into an adaptive resume facility featuring retail, office and warehouse space. They started with an antique mall. Today, Gibson Mill is one of the region’s largest adaptive reuse projects, spanning over 656,000 square feet across 48 acres.

Gibson Mill is seen as a staple to the Concord community, allowing families to take a little adventure in their own backyard. Within the last two years, the mill had introduced the community to the brand-new food hall, Gibson Mill Market. It’s flooded with new tenants like Cara’s Cookie Co., Churn Buddies, Johnny Rogers BBQ & Burgers, Kuni’s Kitchen, Livy’s Neapolitan Pizzeria, Taco Street, and The Market Bar.

Gibson Mill is also home to many small businesses, encouraging diversity and enriching the community’s culture by celebrating people’s individuality together.

But 656,000 square feet is a lot of ground to cover and can get overwhelming. That’s why Queen City Nerve is here to give you a breakdown of where you should go and what you should do when you visit the place that’s been woven into the community since 1899.


FOOD & DRINK

Cabarrus Brewing Company

Monday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m.; Friday, 4-11 p.m.; Saturday, Noon-10 p.m.; Sunday 1-7 p.m.

You’ve got to drive into the depths of the Gibson Mill campus to find your way to the brewery, but it’s worth the search. Cabarrus Brewing Company is the first full-scale craft brewing in Concord and Cabarrus County. The brewery finds its purpose in building community and melding history by investing in community events and utilizing the mill’s space to embrace the city’s history. The brewery’s Mezzanine is a private event space with access to televisions, a sound system, and a private bar. Right below the event space is the taproom, which is family- and dog-friendly. Featured beers include blonde ales, stouts, amber ales, IPAs, and hazy IPAs. It’s a great way to end your Gibson Mill Adventure.

Defined Coffee

Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, Noon-5 p.m.

Defined Coffee first opened in Lake Norman in 2018, with the mission to share coffee’s diversity and create community. They now have locations in Huntersville, Denver and, of course, Gibson Mill in Concord. This location includes a bar, inviting customers to sit and chat with their baristas, and a wraparound balcony to enjoy your coffee and some fresh air. The company sources and roasts high-quality, single-origin coffee while maintaining full transparency in their relationships with producers and recognizing who the growers are. Defined Coffee is considered to be part of the third-wave coffee community, offering traditional cappuccinos and cortados with specialty syrups.

Milk pours into a latte, making a design
Defined Coffee (Courtesy of Black Wednesday)

Barcos Sports & Raw Bar

Monday-Thursday, 4-9 p.m.; Friday, 4-10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday Noon-8 p.m.

Despite being far from the ocean, Barcos manages to make customers feel seaside with their fresh, flavorful seafood and boat-inspired cocktails. For those with sea legs, the menu offers clams, mussels, peel-and-eat shrimp, crab cakes, seared tuna and mahi, fish & chips, and Old Bay fries to name a few. But Barcos also appeals to landlubbers, too, with sports-bar fare like naan sammies, nachos and pasta, plus beer, wine, an arcade and 15 jumbo TVs, making it easy to throw away the other 11 spots on this list and spend the day in Barcos.

A seafood boil with shrimp and corn
Barcos Sports & Raw Bar (Courtesy of Black Wednesday)

Johnny Roger’s BBQ & Burgers

Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Close your eyes and picture classic American comfort food. That’s Johnny Roger’s. The family-owned, counter-service food joint offers hand-pulled barbecue, burgers, hot dogs, chicken, classic American sides, soups, salads, soft-serve ice cream and banana pudding (if you saved any room for dessert). Their barbeque seasoning (Butt Rubb) and sauce (Fat Boys) are family recipes created by co-owner Barrett Dabbs’ father and uncle.

Cara’s Cookie Co.

Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Don’t let the cookies fool you, Cara’s Cookie Co. is about more than sweets. Named after founder Jennifer Hamilton’s daughter, Cara, who died of a terminal brain tumor at just 50 days old, Cara’s Cookie Co. donates a portion of its profits to the charity the family started in her honor. Cara’s Purpose is a nonprofit whose mission is to provide support and services to parents whose infants have been diagnosed with a terminal disease. It’s a sweet mission that’s made even sweeter with cookie flavors like coffee toffee, Oreo crunch, snickerdoodle, s’mores and gluten-free double chocolate.

Four cookies of various flavors
Cara’s Cookie Co. (Courtesy of Black Wednesday)

Kuni’s Kitchen

Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

You can’t leave Gibson Mill without stopping by Kuni’s Kitchen, at least for one small bite. The Asian restaurant makes bao buns and bowls with scratch-made noodles and locally sourced ingredients that are packed with flavor. You can also build your own bowl or try one of the bowls or buns of the month, which aren’t offered on the regular menu.

An Asian-inspired Ahi tuna dish
Kuni’s Kitchen (Courtesy of Black Wednesday)

OTHER FUN

Beardy Weirdy’s Comics

Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 1-6 p.m.

Typically, you expect perfect china, glassware or a haunted mirror at an antique mall. The Depot at Gibson Mill has those amongst their more than 750 booths, but they also have vintage comic books — and a pretty daunting collection at that. With 7,000 comic books, toys, retro video games, and VHS tapes, Chris Rigo’s Beardy Weirdy’s Comics booth first opened in 2019. Rigo, who is also a musician, has been involved with the industry since he was a kid sorting and bagging comic books. He now leads Concord Micro-Con, a local convention that welcomes all ages and various vendors to celebrate all things comics and superheroes. Concord Micro-Con celebrated its sixth annual event on May 6.

A young man with a long gray beard wearing an X-Men T-shirt holds up two comic books while standing in front of a wall of comics books
Chris Rigo of Beardy Weirdy’s Comics. (Photo by Barry Meade)

The Valcarol Missions Escape Room

Times vary

The Valcarol Missions Escape Room is a small business that creates custom-made missions for customers/clients/prisoners to help you ferret out who in your party folds under pressure. With three or four rooms on rotation during a given season, each mission is connected like a novel series, with the escape rooms working in a non-linear format allowing each participant to solve clues at the same time. One of the other perks of these escape rooms is the unlimited amount of hints that visitors are allowed. You can ask any questions at any moment through walkie-talkies, encouraging curiosity and asking for help to win! Each room is designed with the perfect amount of challenge and is greatly complemented by its visual effects.

AutoBarn Classic Cars

Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Started by Charlotte-area car collectors, AutoBarn Classic Cars hopes to provide a simple way to market one’s pride and joy: their collector’s car. The building can be found past the Gibson Mill and Cabarrus Brewing Company, with a showroom positioned on the southeast corner of the property. AutoBarn Classic Cars also offers a meeting room for car clubs and other car enthusiast groups to hold meetings, parties, car shows, and other events. With 1,700 square feet, the space is set with countertops, tables, and chairs to accommodate the event’s needs. Better yet, the space is offered free of charge if approved. The shop’s inventory includes a 1967 Pontiac, 1955 Ford Sunliner, 1954 Ford Crest Skyliner, 1972 De Tomaso Pantera, and more jaw-dropping automobiles.

Iron Axe Society

Tuesday-Thursday, 5–9 p.m.; Friday, 4-10 p.m.; Saturday, Noon-10 p.m.; Sunday 1-6 p.m.

At this point, you’ve seen escape rooms and board game cafés — now it’s time to blow off steam with indoor axe throwing. Iron Axe Society is the perfect place to do it. It’s the first indoor axe-throwing facility in the greater Concord area, allowing visitors to throw small hatchets at a fixed target to accumulate points and earn the title of Iron Axe Society Champion. The facility encourages axe throwers of all experience levels to participate, assigning coaches to groups of new throwers and hosting leagues for experienced throwers and competitors.

Luck Factory Games

Tuesday-Friday, 5:30-10:30 p.m.; Saturday, Noon-10:30 p.m.; Sunday 3-8 p.m.

If you’re looking for some healthy competition and something less immersive than an escape room, Lucky Factory Games (LFG) is a good spot to start. The game hall touts itself as North Carolina’s largest board game library and café, offering avid board game players over 1,000 games including Terraforming Mars, Settlers of Catan, Splendor, 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride, and Codenames. The café offers snacks and drinks including draft beer, soda, wine, chips, Rice Krispie treats and sandwiches. LFG requires a daily admission ($8 + tax per person) with no time limit. Players can upgrade to a Game Theory or premium table for an additional $10 per party. Children 4 and under are free with paid adult admission. Kids 12 and under cannot play without adult supervision. Potential visitors are also welcome to reserve tables before arrival to ensure a space for players to throw down, but that’s not too much of a worry because the space allows up to 105 people.

People play the Settlers of Catan board game
Visitors play Settlers of Catan at Luck Factory Games. (Courtesy of Black Wednesday)

Paper Theatre Studio

Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Have you been wanting to dive into your creative endeavors but don’t necessarily know where to start? Paper Theatre Studio (PTS) can be your launch pad. The photo, video and podcast rental studio is designed to accommodate aspiring content creators with large-scale projects. The PTS team has years of production experience in the media industry ranging from video, photography, 2D and 3D animation, 3D visualization and audio. Their mission is to break down the barrier that keeps creatives from reaching their visions. The studio has a comprehensive gear list that includes five C-stands with arms, three light stands, two sit-and-spins, six sandbags, four drop cords, and a lot of spring clamps (“so many clamps,” according to their description.) Now you just have to clamp down on your vision and make it happen.

Learn more about Gibson Mill at gibsonmill.com. Karie Simmons contributed reporting to this story. 


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