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Moo and Brew: Burgers and Beer in Plaza Midwood

Updated: Jul 1

One of the things that we love about Charlotte is that so many areas of the city are within a 20-25 minute drive. The joke which you may have heard is that you can get anywhere in Charlotte in 20 minutes. That’s not quite true, but for many Charlotteans, it’s not far off. We love to take advantage of that fact by choosing to get out of our “bubble” and eat in one of the city’s areas where we don’t often go. And that’s what we did earlier last month when our friends, Kristi & Chris Healey, asked us to pick a restaurant.


It had been a couple of months since we had ventured over to the eclectic Plaza Midwood area. And we wanted to try a place where we had never been. On several occasions, we had driven by Moo and Brew, and each time, their front deck was full of people - despite the noise from Central Ave just 15 feet away.


The restaurant’s name is certainly catchy. The concept for it was borne out of the annual Moo and Brew Festival. The festival was the creation of Ken Thomas, the GM of the Music Factory. In 2014, he thought that Charlotte needed a great party to kick off the spring and summer. Wanting to have great local and regional craft beers as well as good music, Thomas called Charles Womack, the owner of Creative Loafing, for other ideas. Womack suggested adding a burger competition. The festival was a hit and raised several thousand dollars for charity. “With the success of the festival”, recalls Thomas, “I had many people say to me, ‘That’s a great concept. You should open a restaurant.’ So I finally did.” Thomas never set out in life to own a restaurant, but he had been in the hospitality business since graduating from UNC and bartending while looking for a “real job.” He believed in the simplicity of the burgers and beer concept and was “fortunate enough to find some guys that shared the vision and could turn it into a bricks and mortar location,” he recently told me.


In our interview which we conducted by email, Thomas said that it’s been great to see how customers have embraced the concept. Despite all of the new restaurants opening in Charlotte, their business continues to grow. “I think that we hit a sweet spot for a lot of people, and we strive to continue to improve our product and service and make sure people leave smiling.” He’s been surprised by the diversity of those customers as well. “We have hipsters, bankers, families, young people, old people, and everything in between,” he said. (I wonder if we fit into the old people category…..)


I asked him how they chose Plaza Midwood for the restaurant’s location. “I have roots in Plaza Midwood. I used to spend summers at my grandmother’s house on Belvedere Avenue….and being able to watch it transition into one of the coolest neighborhoods in the USA has been really cool.”


After being seated, we were promptly greeted by our server, Billy. Billy turned out to be fantastic. It seemed that he had tasted everything on the menu and was very familiar with their extensive selection of beers as well. And that beer selection is impressive for such a small restaurant. There were 37, mostly local, brews on tap plus plenty more in bottles or cans. If you are in the mood to try several beers but still want to be able to drive home safely, they have a 20 ounce sampler which consists of four 5 oz beers - which you pick - for $8. Not a bad deal at all.


Since the four of us had never been there before, Billy gave us a tour of the menu and answered all of our questions. Beth went with the Way Out West Bison Burger without the bun. It was served with sun-dried tomato spread, chevra goat cheese, and arugula. Chris ordered the Farmer’s Daughter burger which was a generous patty of Angus beef with a farm egg, peppered applewood bacon, cheddar, tomato, bibb lettuce, Moo & Brew Sauce. Kristi had the BBQ Chicken which comes with field greens, Midwest fried cheese curds, onion straws, peppadews, & lavash croutons. And I had the Moo & Brew burger. The Moo & Brew had Brew-braised onions, Brew Chili, Brew Cheese, mustard, and Billy suggested adding coleslaw to make it a Southern-style burger. We ordered a couple of sides of the hand-cut fries which were very good. Everyone liked what they ordered and, we all agreed that we would return.


The place has a casual and cool vibe and the concept is great. It is clearly popular with the local Plaza-Midwood crowd. Based on our observation, it has a “Cheers-like” atmosphere, since the staff seemed to know many of the customers who came in while we were there. They have lots of TV’s if you want to watch a game while grabbing something to eat at either the bar or the nearby tables. Or if the weather is nice, sit outside on the deck at one of the long communal tables.


So, will there be any more Moo & Brew locations in Charlotte? The owners have plans for 2 more locations. “If those go well., “ Thomas said, “who knows. We’d love to spread the burger and beer love far and wide!”











Sources:

“Moo & Brew: Two Dudes and a Burger Joint,” Charlotte Magazine, August 2016

Moo & Brew.com

Interview with Ken Thomas by email September 27, 2018


Was on the premier episode of “The Grill Dad’s Comfort Tour” Food Network july 2018.


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