CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - With restaurants in New Orleans, Orlando and Las Vegas already, chef Emeril Lagasse could choose any city in the world to open his next venture.
For restaurant number 13 in his empire he chose the Queen City because he felt comfortable here.
"I have a strong connection to Johnson and Wales. Also, I saw this spark happening in this community, a food spark, the farm to fork movement was really happening here and this is a place we all decided we should be," Lagasse said during an interview hours before the restaurant's scheduled opening night Thursday.
The restaurant is called E2 Emeril's Eatery and represents a shift in concept for the chef and his company. Currently it is open for dinner but will expand to lunch service soon and plans are underway for a "to go" lunch cafe to cater to the business crowd.
The menu is filled with a combination of elaborate dishes and down-home favorites like shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles. It is priced in line with other, similar, uptown restaurants.
Chef Lagasse will be in Charlotte for the weeks surrounding the opening and he says he will continue to check-in on operations going forward.
"When everyone is born they have a cord, you know, when a baby is born it has a cord. This cord of this baby, this restaurant, is connected to me. It is how I operate. I am not about putting my name on something and abandoning it. I'm involved with the whole process," Lagasse said.