In 2009, the year Jeff Tonidandel opened Crepe Cellar in NoDa, he had no prior restaurant experience. Together, Jamie Brown and Jeff (business and life partners) now own and operate Growlers Pourhouse, Reigning Donuts, and Haberdish. Well over a decade later, Charlotte has been graced with the opening of the duo’s fourth sit-down restaurant: Supperland. Located in Plaza Midwood, the upscale restaurant and cocktail lounge opened its doors officially in early 2021.
Way back in a 2017 interview with us about Haberdish’s opening at the time, Tonidandel explained that the team was “trying to [re]create the handmade family meal that you would have after church on Sundays.”
With Supperland, Jamie and Jeff furthered that mission by going one more step and actually opening inside of a renovated church building with a menu that playfully pays homage to potluck-style dining.
Opening right on the heels of the end of 2020 put even these seasoned restaurateurs to the test. But with Supperland and the Bar at Supperland officially serving, Charlotteans have a new upscale dining destination that stands apart from any of the city’s other offerings.
“When we opened, it felt like utter elation… Anytime you do something like this and people show up, it’s just an incredible feeling,” Jamie said. “This is a smaller family operation, there are a lot of options in this city, and we’ve been in the midst of a pandemic, so of course there were doubts and uncertainties.”
Jamie and Jeff first stepped into the 1212 Plaza Midwood church building years ago. The space was rugged, but Jamie and Jeff saw huge potential in a restored building with two separate structures. “It was a chance to think bigger and create something really special for our city using our unique talents.”
As the duo courted the space, it became clear there would need to be extensive remodeling done first. Don Peadon, of Peadon Finein Architecture, led the structural changes and planning. Jeff and Jamie did the interior design themselves. The attention to detail is everywhere: custom-designed plates, tables handmade from NC hickory in the owners’ garage, icon drawings on the menu by Jamie herself, and even hymnals in the backs of the pews that came as a donation from Myers Park Methodist church and have been hand-spray painted.
Supperland, like Haberdish before it, has a menu as grounded in history as the space itself is. Jamie and Jeff researched Southern cooking, of course. But they also studied traditional church potluck, as evidenced in menu items like the sausage gravy croquettes or the franks and beans.
“As far as ingredients go, we certainly take liberties,” Jamie says. “But, we always try to circle back to Southern roots; you’ll find local produce, regionally-sourced items and dishes with a little history in the church genre.”
FreshList helps Supperland source the freshest local produce. Even items you might not think of as “local,” like the miso American Miso Company in Rutherfordton, NC or the sustainable farmed NC caviar, are all coming from just a short distance away.
The menu prioritizes shareable plates. Though several of the price points trend high, most dishes appear in larger portions to allow for the communal feeling of sharing food around a table.
When it comes to the star of the show, the entrees, the first thing you can expect is a large, open-fire show kitchen where most of the proteins cook. Think local seafood, Prime steak, whole chicken, and more.
“Jeff really wanted to explore fire cooking,” Jamie explains. “There isn’t a beast of a grill like this in Charlotte. So it was a way of distinguishing our menu and then also challenging our Executive Chef, Chris Rogienski, with a new type of cooking.”
For both Supperland’s own bar and “the Bar at Supperland” (housed next door in a separate building), mixologist Colleen Hughes brought over Rhea Buck, one of the bartenders at Haberdish. The two women create and craft the beverages at the Bar. Most of the cocktail menu is the same from the bar to main dining.
Expect creative drinks built off well-known classics. Every drink feels like a special occasion. Colleen is intentional about the ingredients, the sourcing, the flavors, the glassware, the colors, the presentation, and the garnishing.
One unique item is the highball machine. It allows the bar team to serve up simple, carbonated, refreshing drinks with subtle herbal and citrus notes, like the Toki Highball on tap over the summer. The Toki uses Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky, soda water, sliced grapefruit, grapefruit bitters and sage.
There are a few specialized drinks that are only available at the Bar at Supperland. However, what really sets it apart is a cocktail lounge-feel in a smaller, more intimate setting than the main restaurant.
Supperland’s emphasis on experience is well-timed for the post-pandemic diner, craving something we truly can’t create for ourselves at home.
“A restaurant is closer to the entertainment business in my mind,” Jamie says. “It’s an interactive exchange with hundreds of different touchpoints. It’s like a living, breathing piece of art that unites the physicality of food and flavors with the unquantifiable senses, feelings, and emotions of each individual who walks in the door.”
Supperland was an ambitious project to be certain. And it is sure to continue to push forward the face of Charlotte’s culinary scene. It’s stunningly designed, thoughtfully executed, and upscale. Like the Tonidandel/Brown’s other restaurants, we expect it will also continue to evolve, both seasonally and in keeping with the duo’s ever creative and visionary nature.