When I heard over the weekend that the restaurant Frazier's in Raleigh was closing, I figured I'd better check on Vivace here in Charlotte.
Vivace, the restaurant in the Metropolitan development with the stunning views of the Charlotte skyline, is owned by Raleigh-based Urban Food Group, which also owns Frazier's (along with Vivace Raleigh, Coquette, Chow and Porter's Tavern).
Kevin Jennings, who co-owns UFG with his wife, Stacey, wasn't surprised to hear from me, and he was quick to say that Charlotte's Vivace isn't going anywhere. "We've very definitely committed to the space," he said. He said sales at the Charlotte restaurant were up 15 percent in the first quarter.
The Frazier’s decision was based on practicality, he says. The restaurant space was too small to justify the kind of staff it had. He wants to focus on bigger spaces with more potential to do bigger numbers.
The Charlotte space, with a patio overlooking the greenway and the Charlotte skyline, is already booked for one night during the Democratic National Convention and he’s fielding a lot of other calls for it.
He also says he’s looking at adding another Vivace in either Denver (yes, Colorado) or Washington.Jennings is planning changes in Charlotte, though. He's always wanted Vivace to focus on high-quality Italian ingredients. He thinks the current menu has gotten away from that and is planning to bring in a new general manager and a new chef, Meredith Antunez.
“I’m all about having that be one of the best restaurants in Charlotte. Our challenge is doing it with finesse.”