CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Plans are underway to transform the old, boarded-up A&P Grocery Store on West Trade Street near Johnson C. Smith University. The plan calls for turning part of the building into a restaurant incubator.
The building will be used for four chefs who want to open up their own restaurant. They will set up shop inside the building rent-free and learn the restaurant business.
J'Tanya Adams, President of the Historic West End Partners, says that part of Charlotte is known as a dining desert and needs more options.
"Mostly what we have is carry-out," Adams said. "And with that, we're very thankful for all the West End providers of those staples that are known to the community, but we don't need to replicate that."
The plan states if the chefs survive the first year in the incubator, they will be offered financial help to open up their own restaurant. The hope is they will open it in the Northwest Corridor to help eliminate the dining desert.
"Our monies are going out all across the city," Adams said. "It would be awesome to keep our dollars right here in the West End."
The project is called "FAM," which stands for Food and Music. There will be a place where people can eat to try out the food, and a place where different types of music will be played. There will also be a community center that is desperately needed in the Northwest Corridor.
"To offer to the community and have different programming," Adams said. "And we'll be able to have that space for ten years free of charge - that's awesome."
Neighbors say doing something with the building is needed, and that it's about time their side of town got some attention.
"Anything over there would be beneficial to what's over there right now," resident Monique Green said. "I think it would be good, and when they open up I want to be the first person over there."
The Griffin Brothers have already committed $2 million to the project. If there are no problems with the paperwork and zoning, the building could be up and running as early as the beginning of 2018.