The restaurant industry in Charlotte is one of the rapidly growing restaurant scenes in the country. A variety of dining and entertainment spaces are always popping up throughout the Queen City. North Davidson, or NoDa, is the city’s historic arts and entertainment district, where one can find numerous eclectic restaurants. In the South End, breweries, diners, and modern restaurants fill the former center of Charlotte’s mill industry. Promoting these restaurants is the semi-annual Queen’s Feast. Now on its 10th anniversary, the program continues to help introduce or reintroduce residents and visitors to restaurants around the metro area.
In this highly competitive market, Charlotte still accommodates new players. If you are looking to build your own restaurant, start a franchise, or renovate an existing one, here are the top 15 restaurant contractors in the area that can help you. These contractors understand that the restaurant sector is one of the most detail-oriented and schedule-driven sectors, delivering each project on time and on point with every client’s needs. The members of this list were chosen based on a number of criteria, including awards, press coverage, number and quality of projects, company history, versatility in building style, web presence, and overall standing in the community.
15) PS West Construction
430 S Center St., Statesville, NC 28677
PS West Construction’s origins can be traced back to 1930, when Ervin-West Construction was started by P.S. West and Carl Ervin. Today, the firm is led by the third generation of the West family: Roy C West Jr. Leading an experienced staff of designers, builders, and project managers, Roy has been able to continue building PS West’s reputation for highly technical construction and quality work in its 89-year history.
Most of the firm’s business is made from projects in the religious, industrial, financial, medical, and research sectors. It also does retail and restaurants, putting a high premium on flexibility, originality, and dedication. PS West built the kitchen for Kindred, a mom-and-pop restaurant in Davidson. The firm worked alongside the owners, Chef Joe and his wife, sommelier Katy Kindred, in renovating the 1914 pharmacy into a quaint restaurant. The kitchen was put in the turn-of-the-century basement where an arched doorway on the side leads to a 10-person Chef’s Table.
14) Dressler Construction
1474 Highway 160 East Suite 108, Fort Mill, SC 29715
Fort Mill-based Dressler Construction builds, develops, and renovates spaces in a variety of fields, including commercial, industrial, and medical. Its strategic location on the Carolina border allows it to conveniently complete projects for clients in both North and South Carolina. Founded by Philip Dressler, the company aims to be a one-stop shop for construction services, such as design-build, project management, and contracting. Philip banks on 15 years of experience in construction, engineering, and project management. He has an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Clemson University and a master’s degree in Structural Engineering from the University of South Carolina.
The firm has created unique dining spaces for local names as well as franchises. In Charlotte, the firm worked on the Stone Mountain Grill of renowned chef Tom Lewison and the iconic Reid’s Fine Foods. Decked in its iconic white and green, the historic brand’s new location in South Park offers its usual specialties of wine, fine food, and custom-cut meats in a semi-fine dining setting. Patrons will find tasteful design in its coffered ceilings and enjoy a variety of dining spaces like a heated and covered patio and enormous wine bar. The 8,200-square-foot space also has an expanded cheese and bakery area.
13) Southside Constructors
11319-D Granite St., Charlotte, NC 28273
Southside Constructors is a Charlotte-based general contractor focused on design-build and construction management for commercial projects. Clients praise the firm for working patiently and methodically from concept to completion. Principals Darryl Kellough and Tim LaFramboise lead a five-man management team, ensuring an efficient hands-on approach without sacrificing quality. While the firm is known for taking its time in each project, it does not mean a small portfolio. Southside has completed over 200 commercial projects all over the Southeast region. Its expertise includes multifamily, education, churches, office, restaurant, and retail.
The firm’s meticulous attention to detail is evident in Villa Antonio, a restaurant in South Boulevard offering authentic Northern Italian cuisine. The company built the 6,000 square foot facility, which boasts a wide variety of dining accommodations. The most notable one is the Villa Rotunda room. The breathtaking enclosed circular dining area is accented by a coffered dome ceiling, built-in wine storage, and a stone exterior to give it that authentic European feel. The restaurant also features a beautiful hand-laid Venetian dance floor, a large piazza, piano bar, and cocktail lounge.
12) Andujar Construction
3013 Griffith St., Charlotte, NC 28203
Established in 1994, Andujar Construction has become one of the leading names in commercial construction in the Carolinas and the southeast. Led by brothers Kenneth and Anthony Andujar, the firm builds approximately 20 ground-up projects and 150 uplifts annually. It is licensed to build in eight states, offering everything from preliminary design to general contracting. The firm aims for a higher level of project delivery by having a unified professional team be in charge of all phases of the process. What’s different from their process is that it starts with a budget and then a preliminary design in-house. When the owner and budget are in sync, the architect comes in.
While the firm specializes in upscale office suites, advanced healthcare facilities, and state-of-the-art car washes, it has built quite a number of restaurants in the region. One of these is Red Rocks Cafe in South End. Andujar successfully translated the client’s wish of wanting a contemporary American restaurant with neighborhood charm. It features comfortable booths, low lighting for an intimate feel, and a lively bar.
11) AMS Contractors
6511 S Rocky River Road, Monroe NC 28112
Since 1992, AMS Contractors has delivered top-quality construction services to the Southeast region’s restaurant, financial, and commercial industries. Its accomplished team is filled with handpicked members that further the company’s aim of creating sustainable structures and projects. As a member of the US Green Building Council, the company utilizes thoughtful design and sustainable construction practices.
Company founder Ben Hager is a second-generation builder who grew up in the construction industry and learned alongside his father. Helping him create tailored restaurant spaces is project manager Jeff Griffin. Jeff’s 30 years in the construction industry is marked by 15 years of project management work and extensive experience in restaurant construction. The company’s restaurant projects in North Carolina are often food franchises along with construction for several local cafe and tavern names. The company built the second Charlotte branch of award-winning breakfast cafe First Watch. Situated in Providence Farms, the place banks on farm fresh ingredients served for brunch.
10) Spectrum Building Company
517 Alcove Rd. Suite 201, Mooresville, NC 28117
With over 400 completed restaurants ranging from ground up construction to up-fits of tenant space in retail centers and strip malls, Spectrum Building Company is one of the busiest restaurant contractors in North Carolina. It has catered to a number of local and regional brands, from casual dining and fast-food franchises to specialty restaurants. It also specializes in historic commercial projects and property restorations for retail, office, health, and multifamily markets.
Elite Charlotte restaurants such as 37sol and LittleSpoon have employed Spectrum to bring to life their venues for food. LittleSpoon is a stylish brunch place in Myers Park. One of Charlotte Magazine’s Top 50 Restaurants of 2018, it is defined by its heavy metal chairs, dark walls, brick, reclaimed wood, and filament light bulbs. In the southwest, the firm brought to life the western vision of 37sol, a restaurant and tequila bar. It finished the specialty custom restaurant in just nine months. The space is dominated by earth tones through the wooden booths and large wood planks in the ceiling.
9) Fairwood Construction
114 Fairwood Ave., Charlotte, NC 28203
For a young company with only three years in the business, Fairwood Construction has proven that it can perform as well as the big names in North Carolina’s commercial construction industry. Its comprehensive construction solutions are geared towards design-build, construction management, and hard bids. The company’s commercial portfolio includes ground-up, interior renovations, and tenant build-outs for restaurants, retail, education, and industrial markets. It also does a select number of residential projects. The firm’s owner, Bill Heard, boasts 35 years experience in the construction industry. With a career that has flourished since 1981, he is a seasoned contractor with experience in historic preservations, commercial interiors, new construction, restaurant/retail, industrial/manufacturing, and structural remediation. Prior to Fairwood, he was president of Heard-Ratzlaff Construction.
Charlotte restaurateurs have chosen Fairwood for its detail-oriented work and effective client communication. The firm is responsible for building The Waterman, a two-story, oyster-themed restaurant and bar with a rooftop terrace in South End. Affectionately called the ‘kid cousin’ of another famous oyster place, Sea Level, The Waterman was ranked by the Charlotte Magazine as one of its Top 50 Restaurants for 2018 and has been covered by other magazines like Charlotte Agenda and the South Park Magazine. A mural of a salty old seaman and oyster rakes welcomes patrons to the first floor. An 80-seat cheery outdoor patio and rooftop bar offers stunning views of the Queen City. Famed interior designer Carrie Frye led the project’s design.
8) Boyer Commercial Construction
2122 South Beltline Blvd. Columbia, SC 29201
Boyer Commercial Construction is a full-service general contractor that has established a strong presence in the Southeast, particularly South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. The company is headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina and was founded by Brian Boyer, a West Point graduate with an MBA from the University of South Carolina. Since its establishment ten years ago, the firm has amassed a portfolio of retail, office, institutional, healthcare and warehouse projects.
The firm is lauded by its clients for its proactive solutions tailored to each owner, developer, and architect. Its ability to anticipate any challenge during the construction phase and address it accordingly attracts more clients and eventually encourages past clients to hire the company for more projects. The firm’s cost-based approach also results in on-time and under-budget project delivery. The firm has built and renovated many restaurants in North and South Carolina. In Charlotte, it built Rock Salt, the modern day oyster bar by award-winning restaurateur Travis Croxton. Boyer converted an existing dry cleaning building in Park Road Shopping Center to a 2,100 square-foot contemporary restaurant. Rock Salt focuses on sustainable seafood, artisanal dishes, and farm-to-table delicacies.
7) Lennon Construction Company
255 Saint Philip St., Charleston, SC 29403
Charleston-based Lennon Construction Company specializes in build-outs and renovations for fine dining establishments and restaurants. Its gorgeous dining spaces span the Carolinas, from Charleston to Charlotte, and even Georgia. It holds an unlimited general contracting license, allowing it to take on jobs of any size. Its take on innovative design and sustainable building practices can be seen in several award-winning restaurants, including Harold’s Cabin, a Carolopolis Awardee by the Preservation Society of Charleston.
Another of the firm’s notable projects in Charlotte is the high-end sushi restaurant O-ku. Ranked among the top 50 Restaurants in Charlotte by the Charlotte Agenda, O-ku gives a taste of high-end Manhattan dining to the coast of North Carolina. Lennon Construction Company built the restaurant in industrial style and gave it a sleek ambiance. Elegant manzanita branches and pendant lighting decorate the space, while a full bar acts as both a waiting area and additional dining space.
6) D4 Construction
2108 South Blvd. Suite #100, Charlotte, NC 28203
D4 Construction is a truly versatile general contractor, building and renovating projects in the residential and commercial industries. This local firm focuses on custom home building, universal design/aging in place, and apartment renovations in the residential side, while interior renovation and tenant build-outs are its specialties in the commercial side. D4’s owner, Skeeter Davis, boasts 30 years of construction experience working on a variety of projects throughout the southeast. Prior to D4, he was a principal at Price-Davis Construction. He specialized in commercial interiors for 20 years.
The restaurant builds for local Charlotte brands like Bang Bang Burgers and Loft & Cellar. These restaurants are often casual dining spaces. In Loft & Cellar, the firm had the opportunity to create three distinct spaces: the cellar, a reservation-only, 20-seat wine and tasting room; the main dining room, a cozy and intimate space for couples; and the loft, an energetic space for big groups. The restaurant was built in a century-old 7,500 square-foot concrete building on the corner of 4th and Poplar Streets.
5) Metrolina Builders
With 40 years of success in changing the North and South Carolina skyline, Metrolina Builders is one of the most well-established firms on this list. Father-and-son team John and Al Williams started the company in 1972. John was an engineering student at Kansas University when Al decided to quit his job as a senior manager and engineer in a national steel company and build his own business. The firm initially targeted the manufacturing industry, building for big names like Pelton & Crane and Stronghaven. Today commercial, industrial, and institutional clients turn to Metrolina for its turn-key design-build services and project management. In the restaurant market, it has completed full build-outs, renovations, and ground-up construction of stand-alone restaurants.
The firm built the first restaurant for The Cowfish Burger and Sushi Bar in The Village at Southpark. The firm did design-build for the restaurant, opting for a casual and laidback diner-style design. A large aquarium sits in the middle of the restaurant surrounded by a wrap-around sushi bar. The Cowfish has since gained popularity, with a branch in Universal Studios Orlando and Atlanta, Georgia.
4) Tyler 2 Construction
5400 Old Pineville Road, Charlotte, NC 28217
Tyler 2 Construction has built more than 15 million square feet of new and renovated office space, retail, medical, light industrial and restaurant space in Charlotte and the rest of North Carolina. The firm was founded by Katie Tyler in 1983. A woman pioneer in the North Carolina construction industry, she has turned Tyler 2 from a small, specialty company to a full-service general contractor. Her expertise ranges from conceptual and plan-and-spec estimating to project management and executive leadership. She is also a founding member of the Women Build of Habitat for Humanity.
The firm is exceptional in providing a high level of craftsmanship while being level-headed in keeping within the constraints of deadlines. This is evident in its renovation of the Hilton Hotel kitchen, bar, and open-air dining room in Uptown Charlotte. The space visually excites through upscale design elements and custom-built fixtures. The firm proved its expertise in craftsmanship in the eye-catching sculpted plaster walls finished with wave-washed sand. This is illuminated with rotating multi-colored lighting to mimic the different times of day and night. The firm worked while the busy hotel and restaurant were open. It also unwaveringly met all design and construction challenges and managed to finish the project on time.
3) Barringer Construction
4020 Old Pineville Rd., Charlotte, NC 28217
Exceptional and sustainable corporate interiors in mission-critical and commercial construction projects define the work of general contractor Barringer Construction. It prides itself on being a customer-centered company, as well as an advocate of sustainable building practices. A member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), it has completed over $450 million in LEED projects. It is proud of its accomplished team members who serve as leaders of USGBC, as well as excellent project managers capable of constructing any kind of commercial space. Even the firm’s office is a testament to its capabilities and dedication to eco-friendly construction. In 2014, it earned a LEED Silver Certification and was a finalist in was a finalist for the 2014 USGBC North Carolina Sustainability Awards.
From vintage diners to upscale cafes, the firm has created unique dining spaces in Charlotte and Raleigh. Some of its beautiful restaurant projects have been featured in QC Exclusive and Charlotte Business Journal. Here, rustic meets modern through wood and granite in Sea Level, a hip seafood restaurant by Paul Manley and Jeff Tonidandel in Hearst Tower. Located in uptown Charlotte, it brings together the modern uptown lifestyle and the relaxing atmosphere of the coast. The restaurant and lounge, as well as the patio, were renovated by the firm.
2) Choate Construction Company
2907 Providence Rd. Suite #400, Charlotte, NC 28211
From a basement start-up launched by Millard Choate in 1989 to a full-fledged general contractor with over 450 full-time professionals, Choate Construction Company’s success is defined by its people—an expert management team guiding accomplished employees in Preconstruction, Design-Build, Construction Management, Virtual Construction and Sustainability services across multiple market sectors. This award-winning company is 100% employee-owned and is one of the biggest commercial contractors in the Southeast. ENR Southeast named it 2017-2018 Southeast Contractor of the Year, while the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) – Carolinas Chapter hailed it as its 2016 General Contractor of the Year. Also part of its list of awards are ABC Excellence in Construction Awards and ENR Best Projects.
The firm has completed work on numerous restaurants throughout Charlotte, such as the Cosmos Cafe in Robinson Farms, Superica at the Design Center of the Carolinas, and Vivace in the Metro Midtown. From clubhouse and hotel restaurants to tenant fit-outs and stand-alone structures, every restaurant project of the firm features distinct millwork, striking light fixtures, and unique masonry. Vivace, an Italian trattoria, is an inventive hot spot for business and social gatherings alike. The firm used rich browns and velvet oranges to contrast against the gray walls to create a vibrant modern space. The restaurant has been named one of the Best Top 10 New Restaurants by the Charlotte Observer. USA Today, Wine Spectator, Hospitality Design, and Southern Living have also featured the restaurant.
1) Gais Construction
516 N Hwy 16, Denver, NC 28037
Denver-based Gais Construction began in the building industry creating high-end custom homes. After establishing a commercial division in 1990, it received much success and has continued in that market, specializing in brewery and restaurant construction, as well as medical, retail, and government. With its experience in the fine details that custom home building often demands, its edge is creating truly bespoke dining spaces with ambiances that effectively translate food. The firm is run by the Gais family, with father Lou bringing in more than 30 years of experience in construction. His sons Michael and Kevin join him on the team. Michael heads design, while Kevin is in charge of communications and management.
The firm has built locally and nationally acclaimed restaurants in North Carolina. The list includes Haberdish, named one of the South’s Best Restaurants and Best Bars in 2018 by Southern Living, and Charlotte’s Best Restaurant of 2017 by Thrillist. It also created the Cowfish branch in Raleigh, where it worked on an installation of a huge cylindrical acrylic fish tank for the filming of the Animal Planet show “Tanked.” Corkbuzz co-owner Frank Vafier hired the company to bring to life his niece’s idea for a restaurant. Master Sommelier Laura Maniec is one of about thirty female Master Sommeliers in the world, and at one point in time, was the youngest Master Sommelier. Gais up-fitted the Corkbuzz restaurant and wine room in upscale South Park. The formal setting exudes a luxurious lounge feel through its floor-to-ceiling windows and a full bar. Corkbuzz also has two locations in New York City.
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