Loretta’s Restaurant to Add Creole and Jazz to South Charlotte

An illustrated rendering of Loretta's, a southern French Creole restaurant with live jazz and neo-soul music, is set to open in early September at 8500 Pineville-Matthews Road in Charlotte.

An illustrated rendering of Loretta’s, a southern French Creole restaurant with live jazz and neo-soul music, is set to open in early September at 8500 Pineville-Matthews Road in Charlotte.

KK Interior Design Group

A Southern French Creole restaurant featuring live jazz and neo-soul is planned in South Charlotte.

The upscale restaurant will be called Loretta’s, and owner John Jenkins Jr. expects it to open in early September, he told The Charlotte Observer in an exclusive interview. Loretta’s will occupy the former site of the Fox & Hound sports bar in Country shopping center8500 Pineville-Matthews Road.

Fox & Hound closed last month at the end of its lease, said Jane Shepherd of real estate firm Bell Moore Group. It was originally known as Bailey’s, owned by the same California investment firm, and Shepherd said it had been there for about 20 years.

Fox & Hound still has locations at 9325 Center Lake Drive in Charlotte and 8711 Lindholm Drive in Huntersville, as well as Wilmington.

“It’s a good match-up with Nakato,” Shepherd said. Top of the line Nakato’s Japanese Steakhouse has been at the mall for about 20 years, she said.

Loretta’s will pay homage to Jenkins’ French, Ethiopian and Southern family roots. The restaurant is named after Jenkins’ late mother, Goldie Loretta Jenkins, a native of Darlington, South Carolina.

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An illustrated rendition of Loretta, slated to open in late summer at the former Fox & Hound site on Pineville-Matthews Road in Charlotte, includes a stage for live music. KK Interior Design Group

“I said at some point in my career that I was going to do something for her on her behalf,” Jenkins told the Observer on Wednesday. “It’s all about family and my upbringing, and some of the things I’ve learned over the years in terms of food and wine, drinks and service.”

Loretta’s will be Jenkins’ first restaurant, having previously had a food market and lounge in Los Angeles.

A chef for about 10 years with experience at Marriott hotels and REITs, Jenkins moved to Charlotte six months ago to open his own restaurant. He traveled the country and worked in cities with hot food scenes like New York and Philadelphia.

“Charlotte has grown tremendously over the past 10 years, and the food scene is exploding,” Jenkins said. “I wanted to be at the forefront of a place that is really growing in the food scene.”

The approximately 7,500 square foot space, plus patio seating, is located near Ballantyne and Quail Hollow Club. The location and timing “feel right,” Jenkins said, emerging from the pandemic.

“It will be a great getaway for people to just come in, relax for an evening and just enjoy an evening,” he added.

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Loretta’s offers an extensive wine list and specialty cocktails. KK Interior Design Group

What to expect at Loretta

Loretta’s will be open six days a week Tuesday through Sunday for lunch, dinner and brunch with live jazz and neo-soul music nightly by national and local artists, Jenkins said. He hopes to have gospel music during Sunday brunch.

“It’s all about the restaurant first, and the music is just going to add to the vibe and atmosphere,” he said. “You can still have a party and reception while live music is playing.”

The menu will include shrimp and grits, foie gras, jambalaya, duck poutine, macaroni and cheese and bacon, and fried green tomatoes.

The recipes are a mix of family recipes and those of Jenkins. But he’s also looking for an executive chef to partner with to create his own “stamp on the Charlotte culinary scene.”

The space, undergoing mostly cosmetic changes, is designed by KK Interior Design Group in Charlotte. The full bar will be the focal point and there will be a wine wall, as well as an entertainment stage.

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Loretta’s offers an extensive wine list and specialty cocktails. KK Interior Design Group

“Something Quite Different”

Jenkins also expects a quarter of its business to come from private events and parties, with two rooms available that can also be opened up to a larger room.

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John Jenkins Jr., a chef with years of experience in the hospitality industry, opens his first restaurant in Charlotte called Loretta’s, a tribute to his mother and his family roots. John Jenkins Jr.

Loretta’s will also have memberships that include advance music ticket purchases, specialty events and dinners, and private lockers for specialty liquor orders.

“So it’s going to be something very different from what you see in Charlotte,” Jenkins said.

Loretta’s is recruiting a General Manager and an Events Manager. Jenkins expects to hire approximately 60 full-time and part-time employees.

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Catherine Muccigrosso is a retail journalist for The Charlotte Observer. An award-winning journalist, she has worked for several newspapers and McClatchy for over a decade.

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