Need a little Therapy in Uptown CLT?

need-a-little-therapy-in-uptown-clt

Last night a few of my friends and I met up after a long day at work. We decided to go to the restaurant/bar Therapy Café located on 401 North Tryon Street. Newly renovated, the place was much more spacious and swanky than I had remembered.  It’s a good thing the renovation provided a little more room, because the dining area was packed inside and out.

Uptown Charlotte

(photo credit: http://www.therapycafe.net/)

Therapy feature Charlotte’s largest selection of double martinis, ranging from the some of the most cleaver names, to the old favorites. One thing I love about their menu is that they have quite the selection of starters to share. This works out perfectly when sitting with a large group. We quickly placed an order of therapeutic nachos and searched the menu for our drink selection. Therapy is known for its martini madness, and lucky for us the Wednesday night special is their half priced martinis.

If you haven’t been to Therapy uptown, I highly recommend checking it out. Also, check out the below link to find other hotspots to check out after work in Charlotte. This is a pretty awesome link, and it updates constantly. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

http://charlottehappyhour.com/

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Not Sure You Love Charlotte? You Will After This Tour.

not-sure-you-love-charlotte-you-will-after-this-tour

As a lifelong Charlottean, a common complaint I hear from visitors and newcomers is that there’s nothing to do here.  Whether it’s a lack of entertainment and dining options, or educational and sightseeing adventures, transplants and vacationers can’t seem to find what they’re looking for in the Queen City.

Having spent a couple (er, many) years exploring this great city, I know of more than a few spots to enjoy great food, great entertainment and great views.  I could rattle off my favorites here.  But you don’t know me and who knows if we share the same tastes?

square-charlotteSo to circumvent our lack of friendship, I’d like to make a suggestion: take a tour of Charlotte.  Not just any tour, a guided driving tour in an air-conditioned van and hosted by a knowledgeable tour guide.  Just to test it out for you, I took one myself last weekend.

C-Charlotte Tours is a fairly new tour company in town, but their knowledge of the city’s history and attractions is extensive.  Gary, our tour guide, shared more nuggets of information about this city than I’ve read in any welcome brochure. And despite my native status, I learned a thing or two about my hometown. Like, did you know there are capped-off goldmines under Charlotte’s uptown streets?  And did you know that Price’s Chicken Coop is rated by Bon Appétit as one of the 3 best places in America to eat fried chicken?  Or that there are a TON of restaurants within a 5-mile radius of uptown?  (OK, I did know that one, but I definitely found a few more to add to the list.)

The tour started uptown where Gary pointed out every office tower and high-rise condo along the way, offering his inside scoop on the businesses and project timelines for each.  Since the tour is geared toward visiting and relocated professionals, he also gave a nod to the restaurants and bars lining the uptown streets.  And judging from the number of them, the city’s quiet, decade-long nightlife bloom appears to have exploded in the last 18 months.

But this wasn’t just a bar crawl.  It was an all-in-one sightseeing tour, history lesson and neighborhood exploration mission.  We drove north through Biddleville, one of Charlotte’s oldest African-American communities, and an area steeped in southern history.  The regal, brick buildings of Johnson C. Smith University, one of the state’s oldest historically black colleges, line the entrance to the community.  Behind the campus is Elmwood Cemetery, the final resting place for many of Charlotte’s business, cultural and political pioneers, as well as war veterans dating back to the Civil War.

Then it was on to the surrounding neighborhoods:  SouthEnd, Dilworth, Myers Park, Eastover and Elizabeth.  What did we find? Beautiful homes, walkable streets and, you guessed it: more restaurants.  We even made a run through SouthPark, a shoppers’ paradise offering great retail therapy, although not for the economically-challenged.

As we swung by Bank of America Stadium, Bobcats Arena and the much-anticipated, highly-debated future baseball stadium, we were treated to a little Local Sports 101.  I won’t tell you the questions or answers, lest I spoil the surprises.  But I did pick up some good trivia (as well as some juicy rumors).

We finished up back in uptown, and were dropped off within walking distance of a few cafes we had passed during our drive.  In fact, I saw some of my tour companions headed that way as I pulled out of the parking lot.

I’ve always been content with Charlotte.  After all, it’s becoming the jewel of the South (sorry, Atlanta, if it weren’t for the traffic …).  And regardless of the current economic hiccup, it will continue to attract industry and commerce, and thus, more people.  But it was an amazing experience to see all its wonders at once, tied up in a neat little 2-and-a-half-hour package.

So for those of you still questioning your decision to stay in Charlotte, call up C-Charlotte Tours and take the tour.  You won’t be disappointed.

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My Very Bridal Charlotte Weekend

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For a girl that likes to shop, this weekend couldn’t have been more fun!  My family and future in laws were all in town for a fun little engagement party for my Fiance and me.  We crammed as much fun wedding stuff into this weekend to take advantage of all the families being together for a rare weekend.  One of the things we did this weekend was go and look at wedding gowns for the first time.  On Saturday morning I gathered my gilrs including my mom, sister, grandma, best friend, future mother-in-law and best friend/roomie to go to Hayden Olivia Bridal Boutique in uptown Charlotte.  What an amazing experience.  All the ladies in my group had so much fun looking at all the dresses in the store and picking out almost 15 different dresses for me to try on.  The first time you see yourself in a bridal gown is like an out of body experience.  I put the first gown on, a Kenneth Pool design, and stepped out of the dressing room to show my group.  Now this was not the right dress for me, but still when I looked in the mirror it felt like I was looking at someone else.  Another 5 foot 4 inch redhead bride, definitely not me.  As we made our way through the different gowns I was just still in shock at the sight of myself in the mirror in a gown.  Unfortunately, we didn’t find “the one” at Hayden Olivia.  I was slightly disappointed because I would have really enjoyed the experience at this boutique.

So after the Hayden Olivia visit we decided to switch gears and go to look for some bridesmaid dresses while the little sister was here in town.  We went down South Boulevard to this cute little store called Bella Bridesmaid.  This little store was just so tiny but packed a lot of personality with its dresses from designers like Melissa Sweet, Vera Wang, Coren Moore and more. I found two Coren Moore dresses that I really liked for my bridesmaids in the perfect color, Rasberry.  But to be honest they were a little bit expensive.  So I collected the information on the dresses and in the meantime I am hoping for a miracle sale on Coren Moore bridesmaid dresses, because they are FABULOUS!

After our visit with Bella Bridesmaid we went on to look at David’s Bridal.  I don’t mean to offend anyone that is a huge fan of this place.  I know that they offer all kinds of affordable options for brides and wedding parties but to be perfectly honest the experience is terrible.   They do have some cute options for bridesmaid dresses but their presentation of their product and then the dressing rooms make me never ever want to set foot in the store again.  That is all I have to say about that place…

So after DB we were done with our shopping on Saturday it was time to get ready for the party… Next post I will talk about the rest of the shopping weekend which included trips to Crate and Barrel, Nordstroms (for Mother of the Bride shopping), New York Bride and J. Majors…

Where did you go to find the best looks for your wedding?

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Saturday night in NoDa

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I spent this Saturday night with one of my favorite fun girlfriends in the historical arts district of Charlotte: NoDa (short for North Davidson Street).  Just wanted to tell you about a few of the hot spots we went to…First, we went to the Evening Muse for the “early” show. This small venue is a great place to catch some live music. On the weekends, they typically have an “early” show at 8pm and follow it up with a later show around 10:30. Check their website for upcoming shows.

Aslyn and Toby Lightman at the Evening Muse

We went to see Aslyn, a singer-songwriter extraordinaire hailing from Atlanta. Never had I seen such a combination of confidence &  talent behind a piano. She told touching stories to go along with the songs and paired up with sultry songbird Toby Lightman. Great set and lots of soul. Well done, ladies.

Next we wandered a few steps down the street to Solstice Tavern. This was my first time inside the bar and I was pleasantly surprised at the roomy patio bar that we found out back!  We didn’t eat, but a quick glance at their menu…looked yummy!

Finally, a few steps further down North Davidson Street led us to the infamous Salvador Deli. This place is a blast. We jammed *free* to a funky band outside the deli and mingled with some friendly locals. Of course, I have to mention my favorite NoDa eatery, Cabo Fish Taco…what’s a night out in NoDa without grub from CFT??

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Direct TV Gave me Gina Carano vs Cyborg

direct-tv-gave-me-gina-carano-vs-cyborg

Let me start with a little explanation.  So many times you hear about negative service and rarely hear about the positive.  I just wanted to throw out a quick plug to Direct TV customer service for something completely unexpected.  Let me start by saying I have had Direct TV since 1999 and got it purely for the NFL Sunday Ticket and NHL Center Ice.  When we moved to a new home I canceled my Direct TV and went with Time Warner.  I am not even going to try and sugar coat it, Time Warner customer service and their HD package simply suck.  I canceled cable service after a year and went back to the old faithful.  Every single time I have called Direct TV in the last 10 years, they have been more then happy to solve my problems.  Perhaps it is because I have the Premium package, Sunday Ticket, Super Fan, Center Ice and get a UFC fight every other month.  They must have notes somewhere that I am in their target demographic and love throwing money at them.  Any way you look at it, they have lead the industry in customer satisfaction for something like 9 years running (it shows).

Now for the fun part…Check out what I got in the mail yesterday!


See DIRECTV thank you card detail at bottom of post

It is like Direct TV can read my mind!  I am not a fan of movie channels, I am more of a sports freak.  The cool thing here is that Gina “Conviction” Carano is fighting Cyborg this Saturday on Showtime.  This is the first major MMA event with Womens MMA as the headline.  Gina is by far my favorite female athelete.  She is drop dead goregous and can kick some ass.  I can only hope that one day my daughter can legally kick people in the face like she does.  Cyborg is no joke though and Gina has a real challenge in front of her.  This will be an amazing battle!

So I did a little leg work for you on Direct TV Sunday Ticket.  Through September Direct TV is running a deal on their football package.  This is similar to the deal I got many years ago and all I can say is that I have been more then happy ever since.  DIRECTV and Direct Star TV (their primary dealer) have done an amazing job at keeping me around.  Thanks guys!


Card Reads: Dear Brian, Loyal customer since August 2005*.  Happy anniversary and thank you for being a loyal DIRECTV customer.  It’s because of viewers like you that we’ve become America’s favorite satellite television provider.  Please accept this anniversary gift: SHOWTIME Channels 537-549 | 3 months.  Just sit back and enjoy.  There are no charges or strings attached.  In face we’ve already turned it on for you.  Don’t miss out on future anniversary gifts.  Please go to directv.com/thanks, enter your account number and let us know the best place to email you. [Your account number is: ########].  And because we value your oppinion, we would appreciate feedback on your DIRECTV experience.  To make it easy, we’ve created a special place online where loyal customers like you can tell us what we’re doing well and what we need to do better.  You’ll also find it at directv.com/thanks.  Sincerely, Karen Leever, SVP Customer Communications.  P.S. Thank you again.  Be sure to go to directv.com/thanks and update your email address so we’ll know where to reach you on your next anniversary. *Reflects your most recent activation date.

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Avett Nation

avett-nation

Originally from the Charlotte area, The Avett Brothers played their only remaining scheduled 2009 Charlotte show on Saturday night at Bojangles Coliseum. (although there are whispers of a NC New Year’s Eve show…shhhhh!)  They graced nearly 6,000 loyal fans with a  mix of old favorites and new tunes from their upcoming major-label debut album, “I and Love and You” which is due out in mid-September.

I was lucky enough to speak with Scott & Seth Avett and bassist Bob Crawford before the show. It was great to hear their story straight from the guys themselves. Did you know that Bob got the gig by responding to a newspaper ad and met the brothers in an empty parking lot to jam? Bob started playing with them in 2001, when Scott & Seth were fronting a neo-punk band named Nemo.  At the time, the brothers started a side project,  Nemo Back Porch Project, for which they added Crawford. They went on to list the many local clubs they played at like Midtown Sundries and The Money in Rock Hill.

So down to earth, yet opening for the likes of Dave Matthews Band this summer. This grassroots phenomenon is not to be missed! Pick up their new album this fall and join Avett Nation!The Avett Brothers

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Lots to rock to…

lots-to-rock-to

Concert-goers in the Queen City are getting ramped up for a rockin’ weekend. Here’s a quick lineup of this weekend’s biggest shows. If I missed one, add it in the comments section.

FRIDAY
Coldplay at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Colourslide at The Visulite Theatre
Perpetual Groove at the Neighborhood Theatre
Jimmie’s Chicken Shack at Amos’ Southend

SATURDAY
Def Leppard/Cheap Trick/Poison at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
The Avett Brothers/Brett Dennen at Bojangles Coliseum (I’m going!)
New Riders of the Purple Sage at The Visulite Theatre
Pat McGee at Pavilion at Epicentre

If you are ever trying to find a local concert or to follow a tour’s city schedule, I recommend you check out Pollstar.com. You will find tour pictures, reviews, featured artists and my favorite section, “My Pollstar.” Here, you can sign up for notifications when your favorite artist or venue updates their schedule. Sweet!

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Pio Pio serves up the best rotisserie chicken in Charlotte

pio-pio-serves-up-the-best-rotisserie-chicken-in-charlotte
Pio Pio on East Boulevard

Pio Pio on East Boulevard

I eat at Pio Pio at least once a week. For my Colombian husband, it’s a little slice of home – they serve authentic Colombian and Peruvian food in a great atmosphere. The restaurant is tucked into the back corner of the same East Boulevard shopping center that houses Brixx Pizza and Outback Steakhouse. Pio Pio is part of a small chain – there are several locations around New York City as well.

Pio Pio’s rotisserie chicken is the best I’ve found in Charlotte – or really anywhere, for that matter. The skin is perfectly seasoned and slightly crisp and the meat is always juicy and flavorful. The sides and appetizers are always good, from the arepas (round, white cornmeal cakes) to the chorizo to the sweet plantains and my favorite, empanadas (yellow corn pockets stuffed with seasoned meat and potatoes).

If you’re very hungry and aren’t in the mood for chicken, get the Montañero, a traditional platter that includes beef, rice, avocado, chorizo, an arepa, a fried egg, plantains and red beans. It’s one of my favorites. The tilapia is also great, as are the fried pork chops and the avocado salad. You really can’t go wrong. The service is excellent and it makes a really good and inexpensive place for take-out if you live in the area. It would cost more to cook the same meal at home. So don’t bother – go to Pio Pio. You’ll love it!

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Woodstock in Charlotte?

woodstock-in-charlotte

Just got the coolest new follower to my Twitter: http://twitter.com/rockwoodstock At first, I thought “Woodstock in Charlotte??” But then, as I read more information at the Rock Woodstock website, I realized what a cool concept this is! I’m always happy to see music education supported in the community.

Here’s the details from their website:

The Paul Green School of Rock Music presents WOODSTOCK, A Tribute to the 40TH Anniversary. A FREE all ages event featuring students at the Paul Green School of Rock Music (ages 7 to 18) along with local and regional bands who will perform songs from the original Woodstock festival and concert in 1969.

Just to name a few of the of the bands of whos songs will be played: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, Sly & The Family Stone, The Who, The Band, Santana, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin, Sweetwater, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Sha-Na-Na and more.

Charlotte Woodstock tribute

Charlotte Woodstock tribute

So, on another note – You may not have realized that this year is the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. There was talk about having an anniversary show up in NY, but funding fell short and it looks like the show won’t go on. Read the full story at Rolling Stone.

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Going Google… On a Billboard?

going-google%e2%80%a6-on-a-billboard

While this topic does not directly relate to our lovely city of Charlotte, I still found it very interesting and relevant to all of us who live in a city that uses billboards as a form of advertising medium..

Google just recently announced that it will be advertising its Google Apps feature in four major cities in a series of billboard advertisements. The billboards will have a very simple design, and will include daily blurb about why “Going Google” is good for you and your business.

Personally I’m undecided on if this method is the right thing for Google. While they have been up against steep competition in the advertising world against Microsoft, hosting a billboard on the side of the highway starkly contrasts with the overall idea of the technologically driven company. Coming from a background in marketing, I’m all for the simple billboard. One that is clean, clear and straight to the point. I think this is the only way a billboard is effective. However, I would expect some sort of high tech video or snazzy word of mouth marketing tactic from Google, not a black and white billboard.

Could you imagine driving to work and seeing a Google billboard next to our Wachovia or Bank of America billboard spreads on the side of 77? What about a “Go Google” message mixed into the series of our many digital billboards; right in between a flashy Finks or CPI Security ad.

I’m not knocking the guys at Google, because they’ve done a lot of things right over the last couple of years, however I do wonder what the result will be of their new “Going Google” billboards.

What are your thoughts on Google and Microsoft’s new advertising tactics? Do they catch your attention, and make you more interested in their products?

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